VOORHEES – Claude Giroux paused for a moment to gather his thoughts. It can get emotional like that when 10 years of frustration has built up inside.
This was Sunday afternoon on “bag day’’ when the Flyers players pack up and head home for another playoff-less summer.
Giroux was on the podium at the Skate Zone for the annual end-of-season press briefing and the question arose whether he would be asked his opinion by management about the future of the team.
“I’ve been here for a while,’’ Giroux said. “This time of the year standing in front of you guys, it’s the worst time. You kind of realize the season is over. You have to talk about the whole season, and it’s been disappointing every year. It’s tough, it gets to you.
“You want to voice your opinion; I want to win. If they (general manager Chuck Fletcher and staff) ask me what I think, I’m going to tell them. I’m not going to tell them what to do but I’m going to give them my opinion. You have to have confidence in your GM and we do.’’
Sean Couturier, voted team MVP for the first time, said personnel is important but it’s more about the way a team plays.
“The start of our year wasn’t our best,’’ he said. “There were a lot of changes, uncertainty. We got back into it, I think we were three points out, we were right there. We just didn’t win the big games we needed to.
“I don’t think it’s a question of effort. I think it’s more about playing the right way. More attention to detail. I think it’s something we can work on earlier in the year and be ready from day one.’’
Jake Voracek leaves the impression the Flyers could make moves mainly because they have the salary cap space to do so.
“When you think about it, last summer and this summer are the first couple in a while we have the cap space to go after big guys in free agency,’’ he said. “If that happens, I don’t know. That’s not a question for me. It’s been tough. When you go through nine (actually eight) goalies in one year, it’s obviously a tough thing to do. Injuries happen to everyone. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen it at that level. I’m not using it as an excuse.
“I think with the team we have on the ice, it shouldn’t matter who was playing. We should have found a way to win some games. If you’re chasing the playoffs from December or November every single year, especially this year, that’s a really hard thing to do and you’re going to come up short.
James van Riemsdyk sounds optimistic about the future, regardless of which players are here and which aren’t.
“I think there are a lot of pieces in place,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “Again, I think it’s a good mix of experience and some youth. There are lots of guys whose best hockey is ahead of them.
“That’s encouraging and guys are going to continue to get better. Whatever decides to do this summer, I’m sure he’s got an idea of what we need. I think there are a lot of good things in place here and it’s just a matter of us going out there and performing.’’
Shayne Gostisbehere was asked if the Flyers need a slightly different cast of characters.
“We always dig ourselves a hole and we always have to climb out,’’ he said. “It’s tough to do. We tried again this year and we fell a little short. I’m not sure if it’s personnel or what’s going on. We’ve had some changes already and I’m not sure if there will be more.’’
Van Riemsdyk was reminded the Flyers had a team negative goal differential of minus-37, even though they scored as many goals as playoff-bound Carolina.
“That (stronger defensive play) is certainly a big part of it. Definitely in the first half of the season, we could have done a much better job. I don’t think we were as in sync as we could have been through the system play to get you on the same page as your teammates.
“Defensively, it’s all about being a five-man unit, so you’re not giving up glorious scoring chances. I think we got much better with that in the second half of the season. We didn’t get off to a good start with that this year and we definitely have to make sure next year we’re all on the same page.’’