VOORHEES – This marks the first time Comcast Spectacor CEO Dave Scott and Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher have been involved in a Stanley Cup playoff setting together.
Keep an eye on how things go because this tandem could be around for quite some time.
Some sort of positive result could set the tone for this organization for some time to come.
Flyers fans don’t need to be reminded their favorite team hasn’t won a playoff series since the 2011-12 campaign, making for the longest dry spell in franchise history.
Scott, who took over the reins of the Flyers after the passing of team founder and chairman Ed Snider in April, 2016, has high hopes that coach Alain Vigneault’s crew can do some damage once things get underway in Toronto on Aug. 2 with a round-robin game against Boston.
“If you go back to when we stopped, I’ll never forget March 12, the team sitting in Tampa and we were ready,’’ said Scott during a Zoom call interview on Thursday. “I’m still very excited and feel great about the team. You look at all the key stats whether it was five-on-five, special teams. We took a big step when stopped there in March.
“I feel good. Expectations are high. It’s hard with this four-month pause but everybody’s in the same boat, starting in the same place. We’re optimistic. We’re in it.’’
Scott sounds satisfied with the work of both Fletcher and head coach Alain Vigneault. The Flyers had risen to within one point of Washington for the Metro Division lead when play was halted.
Hiring Vigneault (a Jack Adams Trophy for coach of the year finalist) was a good move on Fletcher’s part, according to Scott.
“We spent a lot of time looking at his (Vigneault’s) history before he got here and I’ve gotten to know him pretty well,’’ Scott said. “We actually live in the same neighborhood down in Old City Philadelphia. He’s just a terrific guy. He’s confident, no nonsense. I love the way he coaches and runs his play.
“He’s really got the respect from the whole organization, from the whole team. You look at the beginning of last season, everybody had to adjust to the new systems, process and the new coaching. He’s just done a tremendous job for us. I think really with him coming on board it was a new day for the Flyers.’’
Scott likes the way Fletcher analyzes the team’s needs and acts on them.
“I couldn’t be happier with what we’ve done,’’ Scott said. “What was done at the trade deadline, the new guys coming in, Kevin (Hayes) and the others. I think we got it right. It’s a great balance, the new additions. The vets fit in really great with the whole team. I’ve been over here (Skate Zone) on Tuesday, and again today; the chemistry’s great and everybody’s working together. I couldn’t be happier with what he’s put together.’’
Is it too early to say “Stanley Cup or bust?’’
“I think you know our history and our culture,’’ Scott said. “It really started with Ed Snider, but we come in and we invest. We really go for it every year. We made some big changes a couple years ago, which needed to be made.
“I like the team we have together now, the front office and the coaching staff. I think we’ll continue to forge ahead. We’re still early in this thing and I think we’ll know a lot more as we get into the next couple weeks and going into the playoffs. I’m optimistic. I think we’ve worked hard and we have as good a chance as anybody up there.’’
Finally, as for next season, there’s still that little matter of whether fans will be allowed in the Wells Fargo Center. Right now, a fluid date of Feb. 28 has been set by the city before doors can re-open. Scott is keeping an eye on things.
“The city is sending mixed signals with no fans until the end of February, but then stepped back on that and said that teams could decide,’’ Scott said.
“We’re a little disappointed to see that order. As we have gotten to understand it more, that’s a long time away through February. I don’t think we have full clarity from the mayor’s office or the city. That’s a long time away. We’re hopeful that date could move up. In terms of what it does financially, our idea was always to start with social distancing as we kind of came back for the next season.
“It hurts a little bit, but it’s not the end of the world. The goal is start the next season, at least have the games on television. Never really had the expectation by this fall or late this year, we’d really be in a position to have fans in the building. I think as we get into calendar ’21, we have a lot of thoughts around social distancing and kind of ramping up from there as people feel safer. Hopefully we get a vaccination at some point here in the not so distant future.’’
>Hart back on ice in limited role
Two days after leaving training camp action due to back spasms, goaltender Carter Hart took part in a brief, limited workout after Thursday’s scrimmage (won by Team A, 6-3). Vigneault said it was good to see him back but there’s no rush.
“The reason we didn’t put him in practice basically today is because it was a scrimmage and he hadn’t skated for the last two days,’’ Vigneault said. “We felt that it was smart. We felt it was smarter to put him out on his own. Let him take a good number of shots and see how he feels. He came out and feels good. Everything should be good to go tomorrow.’’