Dear Flyers fans,
Hi, me again — you might remember me from that bandwagon letter from what seems like forever ago. I’m back, but this time, this letter is for the fans that have been waiting years for a team like this. Trust me, so have I.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs would have started Wednesday night, and like many following the All-Star break back in January — everyone started buzzing about the Flyers. They started winning games … games that would have been deemed a loss before they even started in the past — and doing so dominantly. They were winning against teams they needed to win against … and even tackled the pesky trap games.
It wasn’t easy all of the time. Some nights the puck luck just wasn't on their side — but every single night became a battle. Every two points mattered. As they climbed the standings in the league and Metropolitan Division, this team was never content with where it was — always wanting to improve. Even following impressive outings, the leaders of the locker room wouldn’t focus on their successes, but rather what they still wanted to improve on for the next matchup.
This was a fire in the Flyers that fans have not seen in years. I’ve used the term “cautious optimism” so much in the past — because that’s exactly what it was. In previous seasons, there would be sparks that gave a small sense of hope, only for that hope to be crushed some way or another. That never happened this year — well, that is, until play stopped.
For the first time in a long time, it wasn’t keeping our fingers crossed to sneak into the playoffs. We were ready to watch Philadelphia make some noise and take down everyone in its track to the Final. They always say, “All you have to do is make the playoffs and then it’s anybody’s game.”
This season, it wasn’t anybody’s game — it was the Flyers’ game. You might’ve called me crazy if this was being said back in October, but many now would agree. Things felt different.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t upset thinking about how the Wells Fargo Center would’ve been jam-packed with orange and black this week.
Playoff T-shirts being used as rally towels.
“Crosby sucks” chants so loud the walls would shake. (If they played the Penguins, of course.)
Witnessing Carter Hart’s first playoff game in front of a home crowd.
Seeing whatever chaos Gritty would’ve been doing.
Walking into work and seeing fans that had been tailgating for hours before the Wells Fargo Center would even open the doors.
Willingly spending $50 on concessions to help calm the nerves.
That first goal and celly that would’ve ignited a run for the ages.
Even the sticky floors walking to and from your seats during intermission.
We’ve been waiting for it … but now we’ll just have to wait a little bit longer.
The only positive — and probably the biggest one — is that this team wasn’t structured for one run and done. The years of drafting and building up the prospect pool, creating a strong locker room with veterans respected by all, bringing in a coach with years of playoff experience and trusting the process were all done for this reason. This is a deep team, every way you look at it, and it'll only get better in the next few seasons.
So whenever hockey does return, whether it be late in the summer or the start of next season, get ready. My gut says they’ll be back stronger than ever before and won’t rest until the Stanley Cup has a route down Broad Street.
A Flyers fan who was really looking forward to covering the first playoff series of her career, but will wait because the safety of others is most definitely more important right now.
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