Flyers demolition project fascinating to watch

Posted: June 30, 2011

Excerpts from Ask Gonzo, a weekly chat on with columnist John Gonzalez:

I wonder what changed. Maybe the Flyers didn't finish their year by hoisting the Stanley Cup and marching triumphantly down Broad Street, but for a solid two-thirds of the season, they were the best team in hockey.

And then came the many unexpected changes - moves that left quite a few fans and media members flat flummoxed because few (if any) anticipated the extreme makeover. After the season, I asked Ed Snider how he'd respond to the faction of Philadelphians who wanted major changes - the group that said, loudly, blow it up and do it now.

"I'd say that's ridiculous," Snider said. "There's absolutely no chance of us making a major overhaul. Zero chance."

So much for that.

Since then, the Flyers have brought in an assortment of new pieces - including all-star alphabet soup goaltender Ilya Bryzgalovdfghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz - while jettisoning Darroll Powe, Dan Carcillo, and, most unexpectedly, drinking buddies (and hockey players) Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

And now there are rumors circulating that the Flyers might be interested in making an offer to dynamic Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos. Believe it. Don't believe it. Doesn't matter. The point here is that the Flyers have pressed the detonator on a team that reached the Stanley Cup Finals just two seasons ago, and now they're reassembling a new unit from the rubble.

I'm not saying this is a bad course of action. Paul Holmgren and Snider know a lot more about hockey than I'd ever be interested to learn, and they've been pretty successful over the years. I'm just curious about why - and when - they decided to switch up their strategy. When did they choose to mash the accelerator and go from zero (chance) to 100?

Even if you're only a casual hockey fan at best, this is fascinating stuff to watch. Honestly can't wait to see what happens next.

Onward . . .

Comment from Mike Richards: I blame your article for getting me traded. Watch your back.

Gonzo: If only I had that kind of power, Mike. But, hey, look on the bright side. You just got traded to L.A. You know how many bars and gorgeous ladies are in L.A.? Lots and lots (that's the scientific figure). Plus, no one cares about hockey out there. Which means you're about to get paid to do what you do best - live the life (and, now and then, play some hockey). You can thank me later.

Comment from Guest: Breaking Bad is almost back. That's all I have. I'm so excited.

Gonzo: I am also so excited. Let's be so excited together, which will make the excitement that much more exciting.

Just caught up on the final two episodes of last season. How amazing. The evolution of Walter White from meek chem teacher into this Scarface/Machiavelli hybrid is fascinating. Still, I think Bryan Cranston's best work was on Malcolm in the Middle. No one could sell the "cooking pancakes for my crazy kids" scenes like him. That's art.

Comment from Kevin: Bryan Cranston's best work was as Tim Whatley on Seinfeld and we all know it.

Gonzo: Totally forgot about his turn as Tim Whatley. Good call. Someone needs to talk to him about all that. I saw an interview on AMC where he said Breaking Bad was the role of his thespian life. So sad that he lacks perspective on his own career.

Comment from NachoGum: Have we read the last 76ers headline of 2011? We've been teased with trade and sale rumors, and now the NBA is going into an extended hibernation with no trades, no summer league, no coaching, no mentoring. I'm bummed.

Gonzo: I don't know what's going on with them. No sale. No Andre Iguodala trade. No big splash in the draft. Maybe they'll make some moves down the line, but I'm starting to wonder if they're going to get around to it before the pending lockout. Really can't believe they still haven't moved Iguodala. He's a nice player, but nice doesn't win you championships, and neither does going with what amounts to largely the same crew you've had here for years. Time to switch it up.

Comment from Gonzo fan: Will [there be] training camp this year? Do you think the fact that [Juan] Castillo has no experience it will force us to sign a veteran CB?

Gonzo: I do think there will be training camp, even if it's truncated. And I believe the Eagles want (or should want) to sign another corner regardless of the defensive coordinator's experience. Good players are always important to have around, and right now they don't have enough on the defensive side of the ball in general and the secondary in specific.

Thanks for checking in, Mom.

Comment from Brad Lidge: What's my role when I come back?

Gonzo: Bullpen catcher?

Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813, or @gonzophilly on Twitter. Read his past columns at

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