It's still relatively early into the NHL season and even the best teams go through rough patches. Being that it's so early there are a number of solutions for fixing a struggling team. Right now the Flyers would be categorized as one of those struggling teams having lost 5 of their last 6 games.
Usually a team struggling like this solves it by getting healthy. The Flyers don't have this luxury right now, as Blair Betts and Darrell Powe continue to miss time with injuries. Sure they aren't “sexy” names but they mean a lot to this team and have a huge effect on how they play. Missing both means more special teams ice time for guys like Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. After a few games this starts to bring guys down, affecting their normal production.
Another avenue would be shaking up line combinations. If that would work for the Flyers they wouldn't be struggling in the first place as coach John Stevens is the king of changing up his line-combo's.
Could always trade away a player, shake things up on the roster. Always a possibility but could end up hurting the team in the end. Who do you trade? And you must be careful not to make a deal to just make one.
Lately the Flyers have been having an internal struggling within the locker room, the topic? Leadership. Chris Pronger voiced his opinion on what needs to change, and he had his finger pointed at captain Mike Richards. While Pronger didn't criticize he certainly wasn't praising the young captain. Now don't get me wrong I don't think the team is out of control or ready to destroy itself from the inside out. Though, things aren't going particularly well.
Left with only one option to fix early struggles. Aside from staying the course and riding things out, is making a change behind the bench. That's right firing John Stevens. Something that could become reality if the Flyers continue to struggle. Someone has to be held accountable, this team is just too talented to be playing so poorly lately. I'm sure Stevens is a real nice guy, and he seems like it, but I believe this is a move that is far overdue. I still have yet to understand what his plan of action is when it comes to this team. Don't understand where his head is at on a variety of issues, line-combinations, ice time, defensive pairings etc.
Now the NHL unlike other professional sports usually has a surplus of guys just waiting to take over head coaching duties. Former Carolina Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette comes to mind as a possible replacement. Stevens seems soft and unwilling to crack down on these players, something Laviolette seemed comfortable doing in Carolina. He led the Canes to a Stanley Cup victory, something Stevens hasn't done. And it's true you only get hired to get fired and I believe John Stevens time is up.
About the Author
Written by Mike Santa Barbara
Sports writer covering mostly Philadelphia sports for over 10 years. Work has been featured on RealGM.com, GCobb.com and Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia (CSNPhilly.com.)