If for some reason it wasn’t previously obvious to the hockey world – Paul Holmgren is a Flyer for life. As a player, scout, personnel guy, assistant general manager and now as an NHL GM with a new three-year contract extension, Holmgren has managed move up the ranks by following a very simple philosophy: DO YOUR JOB WELL.
“Part of being a Flyer involves bringing your lunch pail to work,” Holmgren said this week after his extension. “I don’t think that’s ever going away. That is part of our culture and tradition here.”
While he still has a soft heart for rugged, gritty players, Holmgren understands even better than those before him that the game has not so much changed as evolved from a decade ago – rapidly.
Speed and skill, however, rule, especially, coming out of your own end with the puck. The Flyers have the most mobile defense in their entire team history right now. On most teams, your third pair of defense is the weakest. So what does it say that Andrej Meszaros, who along with Sean O’Donnell forms the third pair, is a league-leading +29 in that department? It says, the Flyers are so deep, so talented back there, their third pair might very well be a No.1 pair on other clubs.
“In terms of talking about the way the game has changed, you’ve got to be able to handle the puck,” Holmgren said. “Fixing your defensemen is one area that we really set out to attack and try to make better over the last few years. If your defensemen can’t go back and get the puck and make plays, you’re going to have a hard time.”
It’s also interesting that Holmgren understands that the success of one professional organization can trickle down and provide motivation for others to succeed. He sees the Phillies success in the World Series and the Eagles decade of playoff runs as motivation for his hockey team to win that ever-elusive third Stanley Cup.
“Probably a combination of all those things, but also it’s exciting, because I know for a fact our players are going to Sixers games as much as other venues,” he said.
“I know when the Eagles are playing, and were in the playoff hunt, and when the Phillies were on their run at the end of last year, and even when they made the World Series a few years ago. You can see the excitement of coming to the football field, the ballpark and the basketball court. It’s great for the players and the city. That’s what’s exciting. I think we can keep pushing each other as sports franchises and together as a city. Certainly that is what is best for the fans – not to mention our team.”
Holmgren seems to understand that you have to build a franchise from the ground up. Grow your own talent in the minors and then augment that with free agents and diamonds in the rough as needed. Relying too heavily on any one aspect creates an imbalanced team. Much as the foundation of what would become The Broad Street Bullies of the 1970s… The 2009-2010 season was exciting with legendary comebacks, underdog victories and ultimately a Stanley Cup run that fell just short of the goal. It is time to wake up and realize that 2010-2011 could be an even better run with a deeper team, more talent and a wealth of valuable postseason experience.
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org