Sharp, LeClair strong hires for Flyers’ rebuild plan

John LeClair

      When putting together a management team with hopes of someday competing for a championship, it always helps to find guys who know how to win a Stanley Cup, or at least get to a conference final.

      The Flyers seem to agree with that premise.

      This week they continued to add pieces to their rebuilt front office by hiring former star players John LeClair and Patrick Sharp as special advisors to the hockey operations staff.

      Those moves come not too long after Daniel Briere was made official general manager and Keith Jones was appointed president of hockey operations.

      They join already established head coach John Tortorella to make for a pretty impressive braintrust.

      As players, Sharp won three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks and LeClair notched one of his own with the Montreal Canadiens.

      Briere made it to the 2010 Cup Final with the Flyers while Jones was a conference finalist with the Flyers in 2000.

      In the coaching ranks, Tortorella gained a lot of respect by building a moribund Tampa Bay Lightning franchise into a Cup winner in 2004.

      The point is, all these men have been in locker rooms with players who understand what it takes to achieve success.

      When announcing the hirings of Sharp and LeClair, Briere made it a point to note a big part of their jobs will be helping in the development of some of the Flyers’ young, promising prospects such as Morgan Frost, Cam York, Noah Cates, Owen Tippett and Tyson Foerster.

      They also have highly valued forward Cutter Gauthier in the system and two No. 1 picks (7 and 22) in the NHL Draft later this month.

      Make no mistake, this is just another affirmation that the Flyers are in rebuilding mode. The recent trade of star defenseman Ivan Provorov might only have been the first of several significant moves the Flyers make this offseason.

      Ownership spent a considerable amount of time with the hiring of Jones. Not only was he a crafty tactician on the ice but one who could break down scouting videotape off it. No wonder he was a prized analyst for TV networks NBC and TNT for more than a decade.

      Likewise Sharp, who was brought on board NBC’s studio cast to explain what was happening between two teams often when the stakes were high.

      All together, it’s a pretty impressive lineup of hockey minds. Watching how things work out with these gentlemen over the next season or two should alone be worth the price of admission at the Wells Fargo Center.

      >Cup Final not exactly must-see TV

       Well, even before the Stanley Cup Final began, the matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers did not exactly have national ratings hit written all over it.

      So it didn’t really come as any surprise when the dismal viewership numbers hit media outlets.

      Vegas, which won the series in a convincing five-game rout, might have had some drawing power simply because it hails from Sin City. And the Panthers had to be the feel-good Cinderella story of the decade after knocking off Boston, Toronto and Carolina as decided underdogs.

      Apparently the viewing public didn’t quite see it that way. And the fact the series was only shown on cable TV (TNT, TruTV, etc.) didn’t help.

      The Golden Knights won their first Cup on Tuesday night but only 2.72 million viewers between TNT (2.47 million) and TruTV (253,000) tuned in for the historic moment, marking the lowest viewership for a Game 5 in 29 years.

      Part of the problem is TNT does not have a big brother like ESPN has with ABC, providing a much bigger national following. ESPN/ABC will be televising the 2024 ultimate series.

      This year, the Stanley Cup Final — shown only on cable channels with no over-the-air component — averaged 2.6 million viewers through the five-game series across TNT, TBS and truTV, a number which was down 43 percent from last year’s Colorado Avalanche-Tampa Bay Lighting series that drew an average of 4.6 million viewers on ESPN and ABC.

      One bit of bright news: Before the Final began, postseason games averaged 1.14 million viewers per game, which was the highest number since before the COVID pandemic.

Avatar photo
About Wayne Fish 2472 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.