Will Philadelphia Flyers Leaders Step Up Next Year?

Andrew MasonCorrespondent IJuly 30, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 09:  Danny Briere #48 and Chris Pronger #20 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrate after teammate Scott Hartnell #19 scored a goal in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Six of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Wachovia Center on June 9, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images


Chris Pronger and Mike Richards better be ready to step up next season as the team's captains, or this could be a long season.

If anyone thought the reports last season that there was a a split due to Carter having an affair with Hartnell's wife were bad, this could be worse.

On the defensive side, due to the dealings of Holmgren, you have eight NHL-ready defensemen.  As a GM, not a bad problem to have. 

But here is the problem:

Four of them are 31 or older.  And seven of them played at least played 50 games this past season.  You are going to have some hurt egos in that group when they see their playing time go down. 

Players usually aren't content with even being the third pair, much less healthy scratches—particularly after last season, when they were key men for their respective teams. 

Pronger and Kimmo better be stepping up here and making sure that these guys do not do anything to cause a tear in the defense between those playing and those not.

Then we go the offensive side.  If Laviolette decides to keep the super line from the postseason of Briere-Leino-Hartnell together, then that means you have five guys fighting for three spots on whatever line number Briere's line is not (first or second).



You have JVR, Giroux, Richards, Carter, and Zherdev.  The two losers are going to be relegated to the third line and probably have to play with Carcillo, and if Carcillo plays like he usually does (fight anything in the other color), they won't play much. 

But then who do you put on the third line? 

JVR will probably be on it since he is only 21, but then again he put up 35 points last season. 

Giroux was a breakout star last season who had 47 points and is also only 22. 

Richards is the captain of the team and the heart and soul of the Flyers (see play first game against Montreal for point). 

Jeff Carter put up 61 points last season but has been injury-prone. so what to do there? 

Then finally you have Zherdev.  You have a guy who wants to completely redeem himself after having to suffer in Russia for a year.  But then again, he is also prone to disappearing for large chunks of time.  If he disappears and he is not friends with guys on the team, then they have an even bigger problem to deal with.

This team if they can see a miraculous continuation of Leighton or Boucher's play, then can have large success on the ice. 

But what happens in the locker room could bring the entire season down.