Philadelphia Flyers hockey. 2009-10 season. Dreams. Adversity. Stanley Cup Finals.
What do these terms all have in common?
They will be forever tied together in the hearts and minds of Flyers fans everywhere. Everyone will remember last season and how we watched a great hockey team fail then rise up to reach the unreachable and achieve the unthinkable.
Our team was counted out but we kept the faith and were treated to a plethora of high times. We also had our share of heartbreaks too. Can the Flyers do it again? Can they return to the Stanley Cup Finals and take home Lord Stanley's cup?
I hope to answer these questions by the end of this article.
Last season, when the Flyers made their many remarkable comebacks, they had a few things which aided them in their success. The combination of great coaching, endless drive, mental toughness, and preparation were the keys to the vehicle of success for the Flyers.
In the middle of the season when John Stevens was fired, I was ecstatic when it was announced that Peter Laviolette would be the new coach. I always loved coaches that were analysts (Lavy was a Versus analyst). It allowed him to see what was wrong with the Flyers so that when he became head honcho, he would be prepared.
Laviolette will be one of the best coaches the city of Philadelphia will ever see. He has passion, love for the game, and the willingness to fight through anything and everything that people throw his way. If you couple Laviolette's coaching ability with the quality core of players that the Flyers have, it is an unmistakable recipe for success and I think he has proved that.
The amazing core of players that I talked about earlier was comprised of Mike Richards, Chris Pronger, Simon Gagne, Kimmo Timonen, and Claude Giroux.
These players were the guys who stood out the most and lifted everyone when they were down. All but one of these players are back this season. As we all know, Simon Gagne departed for Tampa Bay. He will be sorely missed but I am excited for what we gained this offseason, mainly on the defensive end.
Last season, all throughout the playoffs, the Flyers' defense played well but well just wasn't good enough against the Blackhawks.
The Hawks were a high-flying (no pun intended), physical team who skated down the throats of the Orange and Black defenders. We held up pretty well against them but the holes were definitely showing. This year brings increased excitement with the addition of Matt Walker, Andrej Meszaros, and Sean O'Donnell. While these players have a lot to prove, it will be an upgrade.
"In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure."
These immortal words were spoken by the great Bill Cosby.
The Flyers do not have a fear of failure and I think they proved that last season. They fought through adversity and remained calm. If they can use the same formula that they had last season and tweak it a bit, they will surely be an even better team this year.
The worst thing that the Flyers could do is change who they are and what they believe in. Be yourselves guys. Be the Broad Street Bullies.
Since I am quote-happy today, I will close with one from Winston Churchill: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts."
Flyers, get out there and finish what you started last season because you will surely be back in the Stanley Cup Finals for another chance.