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Philadelphia Flyers Making Moves For The Stanley Cup
By Kevin Amerman

It's a classic photo.


On the right, a toothless, diabetic, undersized center smiles perhaps as large as he ever has.

A scruffy, broad-shouldered goalie to the left grins equally as large. Between them, they carry a glistening silver trophy, which reflects their expressions of wonder.


It's a classic photo.


Because it was the first of two Stanley Cups for Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent and the Flyers franchise.


Or maybe because it's been so long since another one of those trophies has been captured by the Flyers' numerous players with similar or greater talent levels than that team of the 70's have gone through the Flyers' system since. And all have failed to deliver another cup.

But a new classic image of orange and black jerseys surrounding a silver trophy could be created next summer thanks again to Clarke, the team's general manager.


Just as he skated through larger players and battled through adversity to become a hall of fame player, Clarke has found a way to have another -- maybe his best --off-season despite the implementation of an NHL salary cap. Clarke brings in great free agents every year, but this year he has brought in two who are among the best in their positions and have guided teams to Stanley Cups in the past. They haven't just happened to be on great teams. They have made their teams great.


Peter Forsberg represents for his native Sweden on the World team at the NHL All-Star games

Although Peter Forsberg's numbers are prolific, he dominates games in ways that can't be measured on stat sheets. The two-time Stanley Cup winner and former league MVP is a gritty, smart, center who is a phenomenal passer and a clutch scorer. He has 741 points in 580 games including 216 goals and 525 assists. He also protects the puck as well or better than anyone in the league along the boards, meaning he never coughs it up.

Additionally, he plays great defense in front of his own net. And if he steals the puck, he has the ability to transition the other way quickly either by skating with it or by making a good, crisp outlet pass to an open teammate. Most players don't have his vision or his ability to take it himself.


He has had injury problems in the past. He recently had a nagging groin injury and has had shoulder problems, but a year off should have done him well. The beginning of Forsberg's career as a Flyer (10 years after they drafted him) meant the end of Jeremy Roenick's time in orange and black. Roenick is a talented, tough, vocal leader. But he's not on the same level as Forsberg.


It might hurt to see him go, but in the end the Flyers will be a better team. Forsberg, 32, is three years younger. He's quieter, but leads more by example. The Swede is also more muscular and much more experienced in winning big games. And dominating them.


Derian Hatcher levels a New Jersey Devil

Another major pick-up was Derian Hatcher, who led the Dallas Stars to a Stanley Cup in 1999 when current Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock was at the helm. Hatcher, 6'5'' and 235 pounds, is physical and moves the puck well in transition. He plays hungry and aggressive, but at the same time he's not a liability.


There are some positions that are still sketchy on the team. Goalie Robert Esche still isn't an elite goalie even if he did help the team go to within one game of the Stanley Cup finals in the 2003-2004 season. He's the product of a good system. There's no way he'd be as good on a team with less talent and defensive discipline.

Antero Niittymaki, who won the Calder Cup

with the Philadelphia Phantoms this season, has much more raw talent than Esche. The acrobatic goalie is quicker and more athletic and that will be key with the new NHL rules, which include a reduction in the size of goalie pads and a limit to where they can roam outside the net.

Eric Desjardins is also becoming a liability. He has been such a great player and has given so much, but time is ticking on his career.


With solid goaltending and good luck in the health department, the Flyers will have a great chance to hoist the cup again. And the main one responsible for the cup would be the same person who led the team to the last two. But the team will have to dedicate themselves to winning it just as Parent and the rest of the Flyers did in the 70's. At least players on this year's team know how to.




Whats your paper opinion on this years Flyers team? Let's Discuss











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