For the Philadelphia Flyers, Issues Start at the Top with Owner Ed Snider
By Jake Pavorsky (@JakePavorsky)
After three regular season games and three losses, one would expect a sports franchise like the Philadelphia Flyers to go on damage control.
The players would say the right things, the coach would stand by his system, and most important of all, the team’s owner and general manager would proclaim confidence in their coach being able to turn things around. Hell, they could be lying through their teeth, but it would stop the fans and media from burning the world to the ground.
On Monday, Ed Snider took the match from their hands and did the job for them.
One day after a disappointing 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Flyers called a press conference to announce the firing of head coach Peter Laviolette, who was in his fifth year with the team. Laviolette was already well known to be on a short leash after the team missed the playoffs last year, and while his system has flaws, firing him after playing just 3.6% of the season seemed unreasonable and panicky.
And then all of a sudden, Snider and Holmgren opted to give assistant and former Flyer Craig Berube the job, along with a shiny, two year deal to go with it.
No “interim” tag.
Riding the season out with Berube and then conducting a coaching search in the offseason was apparently not an option. Berube was the guy, whether you liked it or not.
It was irrational, it was irresponsible. It was the Flyers way.
A good owner of a sports franchise knows his role. He’s there for pecuniary purposes, to put a lot of money in, and get a lot more money out of it. The owner then incorporates people who have been around the sport to make personnel decisions for the team. Sure, the owner is consulted on coaching decisions and other moves of similar nature, but that’s the extent to his involvement.
Ed Snider completely defies that.
For almost four decades, Snider has built the Flyers upper management like a monarchy. He’s surrounded himself with former players and colleagues to take over major roles within the Flyers, in large part because they are willingly submissive to the power in which he holds over the club.
Snider is the puppeteer, and those below him will dance however he wants them too.
Paul Holmgren has been involved in this dance with Snider since taking the general manager job after Bobby Clarke, another former player, was forced out in the 2006-07 season. Holmgren has not always made the greatest of decisions. His trigger finger for trades is itchier than most. However, it’s hard to decipher what moves are truly his doing or coming from a power higher than his own.
It was Snider who made the push for now bought out goalie Ilya Bryzgalov because they were too impatient to wait for Sergei Bobrovsky to mature in net, despite showing on numerous occasions he had the tools. So Snider opted to chain himself to Bryzgalov for the tune of nine years, $51 million, while shooing Bobrovsky to Columbus.
Naturally, it was Holmgren whom the blame for the deal was placed upon, and not the overly hands on owner. In fact, Snider completely deferred blame for the signing in an interview in May with the Courier Post, saying ‘I didn’t pick Bryz, it’s not my job’.
Indeed, it is not his job.
He’s made it his job, while in essence throwing his general manager under the bus. He threw his now former head coach under the bus today too, essentially claiming that Laviolette had lost the locker room. A locker room isn’t lost over the course of a training camp, a preseason, and three regular season games. If this were truly the case, then Laviolette would have been given his walking papers at the end of a dismal 2012-13 campaign. Instead he was put on a proverbial “short leash” and then fired after three measly games.
In the near future Paul Holmgren will be removed from his position, the move is nearly inevitable.
In his place will be Ron Hextall, another former player at general manager who will watch as Snider still holds the reins firmly.
In today’s press conference, a defensive Ed Snider made one thing clear: ‘We don’t need a fresh perspective.’
Au contraire, Mr. Snider, the Flyers desperately need a fresh perspective.
The only thing stopping them from it is you.