By: Chris Schaefer
The current Flyers roster is sure to change in the next couple months. If Paul Holmgren has shown us anything over the last week or two, it’s to expect the unexpected.
Carter and Richards shipped off to clear cap space and define a new team attitude? Check. Leino to Buffalo in perhaps the best deal for any 30-goal career scorer in NHL history? Done. A handful of other non-signings that allowed 10 total former Flyers to get fitted for new jerseys and look into real estate elsewhere? Done did it.
As the Flyers former big guns get to packing, us fans are left scratching our heads. A great “team guy” like Brian Boucher is history. Versteeg is gone like we all wanted him to be. Jagr is the new Zherdev, except he comes with expectations.
Flyers fans now have the ultimate Monday quarterback hangover.
We all screamed for a true No. 1 goalie for years, and we finally got what we asked for.
Holmgren could’ve signed Bryzgalov and kept the core of the team intact. In fact, a month ago he said he was perfectly happy with the direction of the team. Then out of the blue, when all was quiet, Homer went to work.
His goal was to build a strong defense and a fast offense. He did just that. The underlining goal was to reestablish a sense of ownership in the locker room. Bring in guys that are hungry to prove themselves and hand the team over to the veterans to mold them as soon as possible and make it work NOW.
The development of Giroux and JVR are credited to Holmgren. The difference between NOW and THEN is we need the new additions to make things happen asap.
Here are the 5 players who will be the new leaders in the Flyers locker room and perhaps the next 40 goal scorers for the franchise.
1. Chris Pronger:
New leader? Old leader?
Pronger is the leader to the promised land. This team has been built around his commanding presence on and off the ice. When he talks, his teammates listen. But, it’s a little hard to make your voice matter if you’re injured.
Coming off a season of three major injuries, Pronger can either step it up or add himself to the list of veteran blue-liners that joined the Flyers too late in their career to supply that big push come playoff time.
When he was brought here I wondered if he would be the new captain. I wonder no longer. For the record, he will not be a 40-goal scorer this year. That’s not what he does.
2. Claude Giroux:
If Giroux wasn’t around, chances are Richards and Carter still would be.
The emergence of Claude Giroux has paved the way for the restructure of the (new) Philadelphia Flyers. Any player can lead or at least be vocal, but few can lead by example.
There is added pressure on Giroux to not only perform on the ice, but to have the balls to open his mouth and lead the new guys who are coming to Philly.
The grace period is over.
Giroux has to become the leader that the Flyers know he can be. Oh yeah, he’s also expected to score at least 30 goals.
3. James Van Riemsdyk
JVR is on course to be the next Flyers captain. After Chris Pronger hangs it up, this is Van Riemsdyk’s team to lead.
He had a breakout year and is the future of the franchise. Up to this point he hasn’t had to do any leading whatsoever. He was the young guy that had to score goals. Now JVR, like Giroux, has a team to call his own.
It’s time to man up, drop the gloves sometimes and lead the way.
4. Maxime Talbot
Who would have EVER thought we’d see Talbot as a Flyer? It’s almost as disgusting a thought as having Matt Barnaby or Darius Kasparaitis suiting up as a Flyer.
He was brought here for one reason. To be this teams’ Mark Recchi. All teams need the veteran who’s been to battle and won (besides Pronger).
This is our guy.
He scored a game winner in Game 7 of the finals. He’s done what every kid has dreamed of. He’s the Kirk Gibson of hockey. Will he be a great leader or just be a great story teller during team building exercises?
5. Jaromir Jagr
If seeing Talbot as a Flyer is surprising, seeing Jagr is like waking up to pee at 3am and seeing Emily Rose sitting on your toilet.
I whistled til my lips were numb throughout the 90’s, as did every other Flyers fan whenever Jagr touched the puck on our ice. What a pretty haircut he used to have. Seeing him now is like seeing a high school classmate you haven’t seen in 20 years but never liked.
The fact of the matter is, like him or hate him: He’s Jaromir Jagr. His leadership was often overshadowed by Lemieux. He’s been playing hockey since leaving the NHL three seasons ago and is a barbarian in the gym, much like former Flyer Rod BrindAmour.
He is used to playing on huge slabs of ice in the KHL, so he’s excited to use his size again back in the NHL. Any former captain can be considered a leader, but not all former captains were good leaders. That aspect of Jagr’s repertoire is yet to be seen but certainly expected.
Will the Scottie Pippen of hockey live up to the challenge?
This article was also published here: Bleacher Roport