Snider's moves: 'We're always trying to win'

Posted: February 15, 2014

After the Flyers beat the Colorado Avalanche last Thursday, team chairman Ed Snider said something that seemed to strike at the heart of how his franchise has operated for generations. The victory was one of five for the Flyers' in their final six games before the Olympic break, and it inspired Snider to praise his team in a gush of enthusiasm.

"I love where we are right now," he told reporters. "We're playing extremely well. I'm excited about the team. I think our goaltending is outstanding. I think the way we're playing and the system that Craig Berube has instituted is outstanding, and I've got my fingers crossed."

What he said, one could argue, captured the dilemma inherent in the Flyers' approach: They want to win another Stanley Cup so badly that there's rarely a sober evaluation of the franchise's present and future. As optimistic as Snider may have been about how they've played lately, the Flyers - who, remember, have not won a Cup since 1975 - are still in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, well behind powerhouses Pittsburgh and Boston. In fact, they've actually allowed more goals (167) than they've scored (162), which historically has not been a harbinger of playoff success.

Snider discussed these topics in a phone interview Monday. What follows is a transcript of our interview. It has been edited for space but not content.

Mike Sielski: The reason the quote struck me is that you were so upbeat.

Ed Snider: I still am. Our system is working, and a lot of times, it overcomes a lot of issues. And we have very good goaltending.

MS: Can the goaltending sustain itself? Steve Mason's body of work over his career shows some ups and downs.

ES: That's ancient history. He's still a kid.

MS: Given how long you've owned the team and that you're always desperate to win . . .

ES: Not desperate. I always want to win. I don't like the word desperate.

MS: That desire to win, is it intensified now - without pussyfooting around it - because you're 81 years old?

ES: Absolutely not. We're always looking to the future. We want to protect our draft picks, our kids. I would never sacrifice the welfare of the Flyers because of my age.

MS: I wonder if, when things are good for the Flyers, you perceive them as being really, really good, and when things aren't so good, you perceive them as being really, really bad. I wonder if that sort of vacillation might contribute to not winning the Cup.

ES: I don't understand the question. You keep using those adjectives that I don't think I use or even think. I always have wanted to win. That's my MO. I've always wanted to win since the time I started this team when I was 33 years old.

MS: You guys do make big moves often.

ES: Because we want to win.

MS: And that's my point.

ES: That doesn't mean we're always right. But we made a big move, for example, on Chris Pronger, and I think we would have won with him by now. That's how good he is, and that's what he would have done for our defense. But unfortunately his career got cut short, and we had given up a lot to get him, and you have to regroup and make up for whatever assets you gave up in trying to make a deal that was going to put us over the top. But it's never because of my age or anything of that nature. I don't tell Paul Holmgren, "Hey, go out and do this and do that. I don't have much time left." That's a bunch of baloney.

MS: The franchise is known for doing what you said: "We're trying to win all the time, and we'll do whatever we have to do to win. We'll make the move for Pronger. When Pronger gets hurt, we'll trade Jeff Carter and Mike Richards if we think that's the best thing to do."

ES: Well, that's a perfect example when you talk about age. We think we were taking one step backward and two steps forward. Whether that's going to turn out to be true or not, we'll see.

MS: Sometimes, it appears to an outsider as if the constant making of these moves leads to a vicious cycle that keeps you from achieving your goal. You're quick to make a change when you perceive, "Things aren't working right now. We have to make this change so we can win a Cup."

ES: All you're doing is criticizing the moves that we've made.

MS: No.

ES: I don't feel that way. I feel the moves we've made have been basically good, have kept us in the hunt year after year. Basically, my view is every team makes mistakes, and I can go back and count mistakes we've made and count mistakes every other team in the league has made. But the bottom line is, we try to do what we have to do to win.

MS: Maybe I'm not making myself clear. For example, within a couple of years of designating Carter and Richards as the centerpieces of your franchise, you traded them - for whatever reason, whether it was because Pronger was hurt or whatever. That's always been the franchise's MO: "We're going to go for it." And in the constant going-for-it, you're shortchanging yourself. You're in effect harming your chances of winning. I know it sounds counterintuitive.

ES: That's what you might believe, Mike, but that's not what I believe. So you can take it any way you want it. I think we're always trying to win, and whether you want to criticize the moves we make, you can do that. But I like what we do, and I like how we do it, and we think our fans like what we do. They know we're always trying to win, and that's all we can do.


msielski@phillynews.com

@MikeSielski

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