Philadelphia Flyers: Oh My Goodness, What a Year!

lyndon juden-kellyContributor IJuly 16, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 04:  Jeff Carter #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates with teammates Simon Gagne #12 and Mike Richards #18 after scoring an empty-net goal in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks to win Game Four of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final 5-3 at Wachovia Center on June 4, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The year, in my eyes, did not start on Friday, Oct. 2 in that magical 2009-10 Stanley cup runner-up season.

In fact, the Flyers year kicked off on my birthday; it was as if Paul Holmgren rewarded my 12 years of loyal service to the team that is the Philadelphia Flyers by finally signing "that guy."

The guy who was finally supposed to lead Philly to the promised land. The day was June 10, and "that guy" was Ray Emery.

Some fans will laugh at such a statement but as Paul Holmgren knew; this guy had already proven himself to be a legitimate No. 1, already equipped with Stanley Cup experience with an 06/07 Ottawa Senators team that looked unstoppable, that is, until they met Chris Pronger's Ducks (or Neidermeyer's ducks for all you graybeard fans out there).

Catch 101 however, was a series of antics and a rather flamboyant lifestyle which included tattoos, gambling, cockroaches, and late-for-practice excuses.

However, all of this seemed to be cured with Emery's short time in Siberia (despite a friendly feud with a team trainer).

At Emery's official press conference which announced the signing, Ray looked genuinely like a young man happy to have a second chance to prove himself (much like Zherdev this year) as an NHL-caliber athlete, at a fairly reasonable $1.5 million price tag, too. 

Then on June 26, the day I wished Philly had the rights to acquire the likes of a Victor Hedman to finally give the team that anchor on the blue line that they so desperately needed, but alas, again my prayers were heard by the mighty Holmgren when he pulled the trigger on one of the biggest deals in franchise history bringing in Ryan Dingle and another guy named Pronger.

All jokes aside, indeed, the Flyers back-end was finally revamped and good-to-go, and acted as a rather pleasant complement to the core of young forwards that were on the team.

At the time, Pronger/Carle and Timonen/Coburn were arguably the best two pairings in the league (although I'm sure a certain GM in Chicago would argue otherwise).

The season then started off with a boom, Emery got his shutout, and Pronger gave the fans a little taste of what kind of impact he was going to have, obtaining the third star in a 2-0 win over Carolina.

The team then rolled, Emery had his 10th win by Nov. 12 in a 5-1 win over his old team: The Ottawa Senators. 

It was also the teams fifth win in a row: their first five game winning streak since 2008; the team, the fans, and even the city were feeling it. But then the roller coaster ride began, and fans had to buckle up for this one.

Dec. 4, the day my girlfriend dumped me, also happened to be the day head coach John Stevens short leash was let go, as was he, and The Flyers organization was forced to move in a new direction with Peter Laviolette.

Luckily for me, I'd be watching the team very closely from here on out, wondering what had happened to the great start: both with my girlfriend and with the season.

Dec. 8 then saw Philly get trounced by Washington after Carcillo took a nine minute penalty to welcome the new bench boss.

Additionally, Emery, the guy who was supposed to be "that guy," gets put on injured reserve to fix a torn abdomen muscle, which later turned into avascular necrosis and subsequently ends Emery's time in Philly.

Desperate, Holmgren snatches Leighton off of waivers from the last-place Hurricanes only to see him come in on Dec. 23 and rip off four straight victories before he would lose to the Bruins in the Outdoor Classic in OT.

Leighton then ripped off four more wins to ring in the new year, and just like that, the Flyers were back in the thick of things down the stretch.

However, Leighton's regular season ended early on March 16 when he left a game against Nashville with possibly the worst injury for a goalie: the dreaded high ankle sprain, and just like that, Philly's post-season chances seemed to be all but a dream.

However, veteran back-up Brian Boucher came in to save the season, and although it came down to the last shot, in the last period, of the last game of the year, he did it. He stopped the puck.

Just like that, the Flyers leap-frogged the Canadiens and prepared for a date with the Devils, probably the best team Philly could have hoped for in the East, avoiding both Washington and Pittsburgh.

The Boucher-led Flyers made short work of the Devils too, making Brodeur pack up for the summer after only five games, but losing both Gagne and Carter to broken feet in the process.

The second round saw them match up against the big bad Bruins: my dad's favorite team.

For those of you who don't know my dad, you need only know this: he is the biggest Boston Bruins fan in Canada, and he let me know it through the first three games of the series too, pounding on walls, jumping up and down...all too happy for his pooh bears. 

However, as the story goes, Richards' devastating hit on Krejci in game 3, followed by Gagne's come-back to score the game winner in game 4, and a goalie change back to Leighton in game 5, quickly turned this show back into a series and The Flyers then accomplished a small piece of history on May 14.

Not only had Philly come back from a 3-0 deficit in the series, but game 7 saw The Bruins jump out to a 3-0 lead thanks in large part to Lucic and the power-play.

May 14 (as 2010 saw it anyway) was Philly's day however, and saw them score three goals to tie it, and then a fourth on a too-many-men call, which seems to burn the Boston organization every 30 years or so, but also put Philly in the ranks of the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders, and 2004 Boston Red Sox as the only teams to rally back after losing the first three games in a series.

It was also the first time since the 1991 Flames that a team surrendered three goals in a winning game seven cause.

This of course was of no matter to the Flyers, as all of the wins counted the same and subsequently counted The Flyers as heavy favorites to beat up on the surprise Canadiens- who beat out both The Caps and the flightless birds.

This series was not one for the underdog either, as Philly showed no mercy at home out scoring Montreal 9-0 in the first two games and eventually 17-7 in a quick five game winner-take-the-Prince-of-Wales-to-the-cup sort of deal.

Then of course, as if by full circle, the season ended just as it begun...not by script but at least on cue, on June 9. One year fast-forwarded from its beginning.

But the 2010-2011 year seems to possess a certain magic, that won't completely unfold until next June, but not to worry about that, because we have not left the park just yet, and the ride is not over.

Stay tuned to this club all you bandwagon frontiers, because they may just have another run in them just yet!


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