Summer marks ice hockey’s offseason – a time to take vacations, take up a new hobby or just take some time off.
But when this year’s warm weather season arrives, the Flyers most likely will spend time taking stock.
Barring a miracle finish, the Flyers will continue their vexing trend of making the playoffs one year, not making them the next.
It’s a trend that’s been in place since nearly a decade ago when they reached the postseason in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
At some point, there has to be accountability.
If you’re looking for it to come from the coaching ranks, you’re searching in the wrong place.
General manager Chuck Fletcher made it clear during Monday’s media call that head coach Alain Vigneault has nothing to worry about.
On the other hand, any number of players do have something to fret.
Even though the Flyers came to within one win of reaching the Eastern Conference finals last year, that seems like a distant memory to a disgruntled fan base.
Where this season really went wrong is anybody’s guess.
Some blame it on COVID (the Flyers had their schedule disrupted by an outbreak in February), others on the retirement of Matt Niskanen and let’s not forget about the strange collapse of goaltender Carter Hart.
All that considered, the fact is the leadership core of this team is coming under fire again.
And Fletcher has to decide if he wants to make structural changes before the beginning of the 2021-22 campaign.
Would Flyers ownership really consider trying to move top-end players such as Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Sean Couturier or James van Riemsdyk?
Even if they could manage to dodge no-trade clauses and unbearably high contracts, would the Flyers be committed to a complete overhaul?
Both Giroux and Couturier aren’t scheduled to become unrestricted free agents until after the 2021-22 season.
JVR is signed through the 2022-23 campaign and Voracek could be here until the end of 2023-24.
Throw in Kevin Hayes’ $7 million and you’re getting close to half of an approximate $80-million salary cap.
If ownership is as committed to a Stanley Cup as it says it is, CEO Dave Scott, Fletcher and Vigneault have to decide if this is the right cast of players moving forward.
Fletcher already made a statement by not bringing any new players on board at Monday’s trade deadline, coming right out and saying he didn’t want to diminish his assets – pretty much telling you he wants to save those resources for moves this summer.
It all comes down to whether the Flyers want to stay with this nucleus or move on.
So stock up on that iced tea and make sure the air conditioning is working. Things could get hot around here.