Flyers

Why Patrick Kane is the ultimate Flyers Villain

Why Patrick Kane is the ultimate Flyers Villain

All week at NBC Sports Philadelphia, we're debating the biggest villains in Philly sports history. Today, we look at the Flyers. You can vote here.

Everyone has a defining moment as a sports fan — something that makes you realize just how devoted and passionate you truly are to your favorite team. Often times, those moments involve championships, trophies and parades while celebrating … other occasions, it could fall under the category of absolutely soul crushing. 

Unfortunately, that moment for me (and probably for many others) was a bad one — probably the worst I’ll encounter during my time supporting for the Flyers ... hopefully — and it has everything to do with my Philly Sports Villain, Patrick Kane. 

When that name is mentioned around Flyers fans, you’re instantly transported back in time to the 2009-10 Stanley Cup Final, even if you don’t want to be. More specifically, Game 6, at 4:06 into overtime, when one of the most controversial goals against in franchise history occurred. 

After it happened, there was merely a brief pause, probably under a minute in real time before everyone began to realize what happened — though when it was happening live, it felt like an eternity.

Once Kane started celebrating, those around him on the ice were still battling it out, those watching live from the Wachovia Center and around North American were still completely engaged, not even realizing the fate that had just been sealed for Stanley Cup Champions. 

(I accidentally re-watched the goal during the process of writing this and it was the first time I’ve seen it since I saw the overhead review during the game. It sucked.)

Kane had single-handedly ended one of the most thrilling playoff runs I have seen in my lifetime and to this day, thinking about it never gets any easier. 

A playoff run that was clinched on the very last day of the regular season in a shootout against the Rangers. No one had any real expectations for the Flyers in those first few games on the race to The Cup against the Devils, but when it was clear they weren’t backing down without a fight, they became a dark horse — and boy did that transpire into the Semi Finals against the Bruins when history was made. 

In one of the best comeback series in modern NHL history, the Flyers came back from a three-game deficit to beat the Bruins in Boston. It was in that moment of time where fans truly believed in their team and the run that was unfolding right before their eyes. 

The Canadiens in the Conference Finals were not a cake walk, but there was no doubt this wasn’t the last team the Flyers were fated to face. 

The hype, the intensity, the history being made in the process, the championship drought that finally looked like it was going to come to an end … was crushed by the weirdest goal anyone has ever witnessed. 

To make matters even worse, that tragic game-winning goal was named the Goal of the Decade by the NHL. It also feels like that has become a classic game that is re-aired at least once a month. My guess is the ratings are incredibly low every time in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. 

This Stanley Cup run from the Blackhawks ignited a significant run over the next stretch of years, also being deemed victorious in the 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons. Watching Kane lift the cup as many times as he did in the span of five years always brought things back to when he won it all for the first time in Philadelphia. 

When you think of the word “villain,” you tend to imagine a character in any story whose motives and actions are done as a way to upset those involved. While I also grew up during the great Sidney Crosby vs. the Flyers era, there had never been a moment in his career that made me feel the way Kane’s overtime goal had. 

In my story, Crosby is — simply put — just a bad guy. You hate playing against him, booing reigns down on the ice every time he skates in Philadelphia and he helped create a rivalry that made hockey enjoyable while growing up. 

Kane is — in every sense of the word — a villain. 

Since Game 6, Kane and the Blackhawks have seen the Flyers on 15 separate occasions in the regular season, where No. 88 currently holds 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists). 

He also edged out Eric Lindros in another NHL site ranking for the best player to ever wear No. 88 in the league. Lindros is a cardinal player in franchise history, and even though he played in a completely different era than Kane, he still found a way to get under the skin of Flyers fans.

It’s been just over 10 years since I felt defeated as a Flyers fan because of Kane — as I’m sure many others feel the same. The research that went into writing this restored memories I hoped to lock away for a lifetime — but it was all necessary to prove the point that Kane is the ultimate Philly Sports Villain — at least in my story. 

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Travis Konecny

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Travis Konecny

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at Travis Konecny. 

Destra

The Flyers would have been a fraction of the team it was this season without Konecny. You can’t say enough good things about the player he’s becoming. Now, at the end of his fourth season with the Flyers, he’s finally found exactly where he belongs on this roster. 

No. 11 has always been the kind of player to get under the opposing team’s skin — luckily, he’s on the Flyers' side. There was a distinct shift in confidence throughout the 2019-20 season and it was noticeable in all aspects of his game. While it could have something to do with his shiny new six-year contract, he also had a fresh start with the new additions behind the bench. 

Konecny dressed for 66 games this season and posted a team best in points with 61 (24 goals, 37 assists). This is the third straight season he’s ended with 24 goals, but had play not been suspended because of the growing COVID-19 concerns, he would have most likely found himself with a new career high. 

A+ for Konecny — and expectations are most definitely going to be raised moving forward.  

Emmer

This one is an easy grade.

The 2019-20 season was hands down Konecny’s best of his career. He was showing a more confident style that we hadn’t seen before, making more risky plays with the puck, taking more chances and capitalizing — all of which was portrayed in his 61 points in 66 games, which led the team.

He also stepped up on the Flyers’ improved power play this season, recording five goals and 18 assists on the man advantage. He was a spark plug — he consistently brought energy to the bench and to the game, especially when he made it on the score sheet.

His confident play landed him his first All-Star selection and his improved shooting percentage was a major key to the Flyers' offense.

A for Konecny.

Fordyce 

Konecny is an easy grade for me — it’s an obvious A. When Konecny is playing well, it’s infectious and has an effect on the entire team. The energy and spark that No. 11 plays with on a nightly basis is one of the most valuable parts of T.K.'s game.

This was a big growth season for Konecny, too, as he played a more disciplined game and shed some of the bad habits which had cost him and the Flyers in previous seasons with penalties and so forth. That can’t be understated. 

Now let's look at the numbers. In 66 games this season, Konecny equaled his career high in goals and if it were a normal season, it’s a virtual lock that he would have a new career high. Konecny’s 61 points were a career high and while he maintained his status as a scoring threat, he became more of a playmaker, dishing out a career-high 37 assists, 12 more than his previous high. 

This is certainly a player the Flyers will rely on in the future and this season was a huge leap. 

A for Konecny. 

Hall

On the heels of signing a new six-year, $33 million deal, Konecny had six three-point performances in 2019-20 after having a combined two over his first three NHL seasons.

That's big-time growth from a 23-year-old foundation piece.

Konecny led the Flyers in goals (24) and points (61) through 66 games. His 37 assists were a career high and he was one marker away from a new personal best.

The Flyers went 31-9-2 when he recorded at least a point and 10-9-5 when he had gone scoreless.

Konecny deserves an A for taking huge strides and backing up his contract.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Kevin Hayes

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Kevin Hayes

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.

Today we will be looking at Kevin Hayes. 

Destra

Man oh man am I thrilled to be giving Hayes the grade he’s getting today. This time last year, Flyers fans were beyond the point of disappointment at the signing of the center — it’s safe to say things have taken a turn for the best. The Hayes signing was instantly justified before the 2019-20 season was even in full swing because of the news about Nolan Patrick and his migraine disorder. Had he not been brought in, the lines down the middle would have been very weak. 

Hayes didn’t miss a single one of the 69 games the Flyers played this season. During that time, he racked up an impressive 41 points (23 goals, 18 assists). He also had a career best in shorthanded goals (four) and game-winning goals (five). 

On top of the player he has been on the ice, Hayes has also helped the Flyers in many other ways. He’s a big personality and jumped into a leadership role almost instantly. I’d say he exceeded expectations on the first year of his contract. 

A+ … not bad for a former ref

Emmer

Kevin “I used to ref” Hayes brought a lot of excitement in his first year with the orange and black.

Because of the shortened season, Hayes recorded 23 goals in under 70 games, just two markers short of his career high. His 200-foot style that was anticipated in the preseason thrived in many ways throughout the year, especially on the penalty kill.

Last season, the Flyers' PK ranked 26th in the league, operating at 78.5 percent. This season, the PK ranked 11th at 81.8 percent — Hayes had a lot to do with it. He also led the team with four shorthanded goals — the most in his career.

Offensively, you could argue his consistency could have been stronger. He had a stretch in early November during which he went 10 games without a point and another six-game drought in early February, but when he did end up making it on the score sheet, he was a game-changer. The Flyers were 19-0-1 when Hayes scored a goal during the regular season; he was a spark plug out there. He loved big-game situations, as well — five game-winning goals can attest to that.

Away from his skill, Hayes brought energy, fun off the ice and extremely creative nicknames (very important). 

A- for Hayes.

Fordyce 

Hayes began his Flyers tenure with a big contract and big expectations. Last offseason, Hayes signed a seven-year, $50 million deal, which raised some eyebrows. At that time, Hayes had eclipsed the 20-goal plateau only one time in his career. However, through 69 games this season he had 23 goals, just two short of his career high, and he almost certainly would have bested that if the Flyers had played a full 82 games. 

Hayes delivered the full package to a team that desperately needed that when it signed him after trading for his contractual rights ahead of free agency. His two-way game is his most valuable asset and this season we’ve seen Hayes single-handedly kill penalties by keeping possession of the puck. It’s one thing to sign a big-time deal, it’s another to deliver on the expectations set forth by said deal. Additionally, Hayes is an invaluable member of the team in terms of locker room chemistry.

Hayes gets an A.

Hall

During his first regular season with the Flyers, Hayes more than lived up to the hype and pressure of signing a seven-year, $50 million deal in this city.

While we tend to fixate on offensive production in this game, especially for higher-paid players, Hayes had an immeasurable impact on the Flyers in the locker room, which can be just as important as any statistic.

But statistically speaking, he also did plenty of good things. Not only did the 28-year-old center make the Flyers tougher to play against, but he was also on pace to break his career high of 25 goals (he finished with 23 in 69 games) and did wonders for the team's penalty kill. In fact, Hayes scored four shorthanded goals, the same number the Flyers put up as a team in 2018-19 over a full 82-game season.

An A- for Hayes because his impact has already been felt in a multitude of ways.

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

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More Flyers grades