Dear Flyers fans,
I had planned on writing this a few weeks from now, because I was truly convinced we'd be celebrating for the first time in 45 years. Some might have called the high sense of optimism unrealistic, but if you've been around for the entire season, you know that is far from the truth.
There have been an ample amount of reasons that made 2019-20 feel different ... and to finally look at the product on the ice and believe in the Flyers again was something I'm sure everyone was craving. I know I was.
After nearly eight seasons of inconsistency, absurd winning and losing streaks, a revolving door of goaltenders, spotty playoff performances and the dreaded "three to four years away from being a legitimate contender" narrative — it all came to a sudden halt in October ... well, after that loss to Lausanne HC, at least.
The first few weeks could've been described as cautious optimism, a term that I use frequently with this team. There was a constant battle in everyone's minds of wanting to be excited and truthfully, preparing to be let down again.
Hope is a dangerous thing, but that's what the Flyers gave us all.
It's frustrating to be able to look back and think if the NHL didn't go on hiatus in March, the Flyers would have been able to carry their success from the season right into the playoffs. The health of everyone and severity of COVID-19 are not to be downplayed though, and of course, there is no disagreement to the league's decision to halt play, either.
You could agree with the league's decision to pause the season and still be upset, given how well the Flyers were playing. Both things can be true at once, I promise.
So, naturally when things started back up in late July, there was a sense of excitement in the air — and especially after their success in the round robin.
The Flyers did something that they have been setting out to do since 2012 though, and that was to win a round in the playoffs. It's absolutely a step in the right direction and something to be proud of.
At the start of the season, that seemed like a realistic goal to see the team accomplish, so now that the season is over, does it still relay that same feeling?
(Heads up, it certainly should.)
Not the ending anyone wanted, but they were a single game away from being one of the last four teams standing.
It's okay to be sad, but you certainly shouldn't be disappointed in this team and their success throughout one of the strangest seasons in NHL history.
This run in particular might have ended, but there is truly so much to look forward to in the future.
•Alain Vigneault helped transform this team and created a locker room atmosphere that any player would want to be a part of. Not to mention, he's a Jack Adams Trophy finalist.
•Remember that "overpriced" contract to Kevin Hayes in the offseason? Well, he helped add much needed depth down the center and instantly became a leader and fan favorite.
•Sean Couturier officially emerged as the best player on the team and rightfully earned the second Selke Trophy nomination of his career.
•Travis Konecny, though he struggled in the playoffs, found a new confidence in the regular season and led the team in goals.
•Carter Hart is a Philadelphia Flyer and is going to be for a long time. Knowing that this franchise has a star goaltender once more is an incredible feeling.
•And honestly, watching Oskar Lindblom lace up his skates and play hockey after his battle with Ewing's sarcoma, made the push to Game 7 against the Islanders completely worth it. Even though they lost, seeing all that he's overcome is something to feel good about.
This next decade of Flyers hockey is going to be much different than the last. Seriously, just look at how far they've come in a single season.
Things are about to be very fun and while it pains me to say we have to wait a little bit longer for that taste of victory, it sure does feel good to have a fun team again.
P.S. If you need a smile because the loss still hurts, see below: