VOORHEES, N.J. – Dave Scott doesn’t need a Flyers media guide to know the team hasn’t missed the playoffs in back-to-back years since the last century.
The team’s governor and CEO of parent company Comcast Spectacor expressed a sense of urgency for the upcoming season during Saturday’s press conference at the Flyers Training Center.
“I want to touch on last season, it was very disappointing to say the least,’’ Scott began. “When we got done, I challenged our whole organization to what we could do to make this team better. I think everybody took it to heart.’’
Essentially, Scott wants/expects the Flyers back in the 2022 playoffs.
“It’s early but job one is you have to make the playoffs,’’ Scott said. “You just have to make the playoffs, it’s expected. I think we’re all on the same page. We’re early into this but we’re feeling pretty good. We thought we could build off the 2019-20 season. We couldn’t but we did have a few moments. I’m just trying to give him everything he needs to work with.’’
Is a Stanley Cup in the somewhat near future figure on the wish list?
“I was so excited about the step we took in 2019-20 (when the Flyers technically won the Metropolitan Division in a round-robin tournament),’’ Scott said. “I think we want to build off that. We just have to win that game seven (against the Islanders in the conference semifinals) and take the next step. Once you get in the playoffs, anything can happen.’’
Armed with marching orders, general manager Chuck Fletcher went out and made a number of significant personnel moves, including the trade of a star player, Jake Voracek. He also added three new defensemen, a goaltender and a handful of veteran forwards.
“I really want to recognize Chuck and his staff, it’s not easy in this (salary) cap world we live in and the fact that this year is a flat cap,’’ Scott said. “You have the hand you’re dealt, we’re all in the same boat. I think we accomplished a lot of our goals. We got depth, we got experience, leadership on and off the ice. I couldn’t be happier about that, just looking at the energy and enthusiasm (on the ice) this week. It’s pretty exciting.’’
All teams were deeply affected by the pandemic, perhaps none more than the Flyers. The Flyers played to an empty Wells Fargo Center for much of the season and then limited crowds to the finish line. Game day revenue pretty much dried up.
“I want to thank our fans for sticking with us through this difficult time,’’ Scott said. “We had to learn how to navigate through this pandemic and I think we’ve got it down now. I just couldn’t be more excited about getting back to a hundred percent capacity at the Wells Fargo Center. We did get hit hard by COVID but others did, too. It was a factor (for the sub-par season) but no excuses. We’re glad to be back to normal.’’
From a business perspective, the Flyers want to get their brand back in the spotlight.
“We were fortunate, we didn’t go through a lot of the layoffs that others did,’’ Scott said. “To have the arena shut down (mid-March), to have nothing going on the rest of the year. . .but everybody stayed focused, we did a lot of planning and I think we’re coming out of this in good shape.’’
The decision to overhaul the roster was not a complex one. Several players just didn’t fit into the Flyers’ style of play.
“We (Fletcher and Scott) had a lot of conversations about it to make sure he had what he needed to work with,’’ Scott said. “As you get into it, it’s a little bit of a domino effect. You make your first big move with (defenseman Ryan) Ellis and we want on from there. I think we knew what we wanted to do.’’
That said, Scott knows success might not be met in the first month or two of the season. Chemistry takes a while to be developed.
“I think this is an organization that needs time to really gel,’’ Scott said. “A lot of new faces. I think it’s great to have six preseason games. It gives us time to figure out that final roster.’’
Captain Claude Giroux is entering the final year of his eight-year contract and it sounds like Scott wants to keep him in the fold for the yeas ahead.
“I mean he’s been with us his whole career,’’ Scott said. “He’s been terrific, he’s been a good leader. He’s really excited about where we’re sitting right now.’’
>Flyers going “computerized’’
It’s been announced a handful of Flyers will be televised on ESPN+ and Hulu this year, marking the first time not all of the team’s games will be shown on television.
Scott indicated this is a “wave of the future’’ thing, with a nod to younger audiences who spend more time on digital platforms.
“It really is the wave of the future,’’ Scott said. “If you look at the younger generation, they’re kind of driving all this streaming. When the NHL put their RFP (request for proposal) out, the feedback was there’s going to be a mix of streaming and of linear television. It’s good there still will be a lot of good games on ABC and ESPN but there will a few on streaming. The good news is on the local level, our NBC Sports Philly it will be kind of what you’re used to. But it (the broadcast outlook) is shifting a little bit.’’