The Sixers' New Ownership Has Gone Overboard on Fan Involvement

The Sixers' New Ownership Has Gone Overboard on Fan Involvement

@SixersCEOAdam
Adam Aron YOUR OUR TWITTER GM: Name 1 or more current Sixers you believe MUST be on roster next year, 1 or 2 you'd trade and why... "KEEP: TRADE:"
Apr 18 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

You can say I'm overreacting, but I think this is a mistake.

It's one thing to poll fans on whether they'd like a Moose for a mascot or if they want back an epic warm-up song that the franchise will only barely use, because those are mostly meaningless decisions.

Fandom is by its nature a knee-jerk, emotional and rarely rational experience. If it involved being level-headed or measured, it would cease to be fandom, but rather, to an extent, objective analysis. See if you can tell the difference between these three sentiments:

-- Lou Williams sucks. He can't play defense. He takes too many shots. He sucks.
-- Lou Williams is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Play him 48 minutes a night.
-- Lou Williams is a change-of-pace reserve who is one of the best-undersized scorers in the league, but has very real limitations to his game at both ends of the floor.

The third sentence is a reasonably accurate depiction of Lou Williams of which Lou's teammates, coaches and basketball operations executives are all well-aware. So why do the Sixers need need to wade through reactions from fans of one extreme or the other to learn what they should already know?

Before I get too far into this, I'll state right here that I am fully on-board with Adam Aron and the new ownership's embrace of both the fans and social media. I like that they want us involved. I like that they care what we think. I like that they make us finally feel valued. And I really like that Aron himself took the time to comment on this website a few months back in response to our reaction to the team's new commercial campaign.

It's just that there's a difference between making the fans feel necessary and merely pandering.

And it's because I believe, or at least hope, Aron won't be taking these tweets seriously that this move feels like pandering.

To borrow from Asante Samuel, this isn't a fantasy league. The National Basketball Association exists under the most complex collective bargaining agreement in North American sports. Franchises are made or ruined for years by just a single move. Under the old ownership, this organization already wasted millions and much of the last decade trying to appease its fans  with poor financial and basketball decisions that were never leading to a championship.

I like to think of myself as a largely in-touch fan and yet I have no idea what kind trade exceptions the Sixers may or may not be holding onto. I don't know which teams are and aren't interested in Andre Iguodala nor, more importantly, what they would offer in return. And I don't have the first clue what free agents will or won't be available in the summer of 2014. These are all questions that are essential in discussing player movement, rather simply declaring "amnesty Brand now" without any consideration of how, why or when the team should do it just because a casua
l fan or season ticket holder is feeling frustrated.

Those who know do know the answers to the preceding questions are the basketball operations executives the Sixers are paying to chart to the long-term course of the franchise in order to win a championship. That's the goal -- win a championship. When those individuals put their brains and resources together to win a title, they won't have to worry about what the masses think, because the masses will be on board. Sixers fans want success, or as Doug Collins has been calling it to a lesser degree: "relevance." The twitter promotion was a nice change of a pace at the start and can still be a great wrinkle for this organization going forward, but it has reached its limits when it comes to roster dissection.

As counter-intuitive as it sounds, as much as the Sixers should care about making the fans happy, they shouldn't care about what those fans want on a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of a devastating losing streak. When they ask what the fans think about their roster, it isn't hip, catchy, or new-media savvy. It's insulting. There are people in the organization who spend everyday with the players, who live and breathe basketball, and who get to watch the college and pro game up-close every night either is in session. They're the talent evaluators. Not the fans. Unless the Sixers come across someone who was shouting from the South Philadelphia rooftops in 2010 that J.J. Barea would be a vital cog in a title team, they shouldn't listen.

So, sure, continue to ask us what we think of a new lighting scheme, insist on our thoughts about a moose for a mascot, and call our home phones to ask how to make better use of "1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Sixers." Those are the some of the best elements of a new fan-owner partnership.

But don't ask for your fans for advice on how to shape your basketball roster. Because it feels like pandering, and fans deserve better.

Flyers look to limit goals against, improve 5-on-5 play in second half

Flyers look to limit goals against, improve 5-on-5 play in second half

VOORHEES, N.J. — As bad as things have been for the Flyers – just three wins in their last 14 games – there was no massive shakeup during their mandatory, five-day “bye” week.
 
General manager Ron Hextall didn’t make a trade, nor did he make any roster moves involving a call-up from the Phantoms.
 
Coach Dave Hakstol took one day off, then got back to watching video and live games, almost in a scout mode.
 
When the players hit the ice Friday afternoon at Skate Zone, Hakstol’s lineup was pretty much the same.
 
The only change saw Matt Read re-enter the lineup on the top line with Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl after missing two games with a skate cut.
 
The lines and defensive pairs remained the same. Goalie Michael Neuvirth will start Saturday against New Jersey at Wells Fargo Center.
 
“For me, the biggest thing is our overall performance,” Hakstol said. “Coming out of a break, that may be a tough thing to do -- to put it all together. But I think the energy will be there both mentally and physically. That’s important. The overall performance.
 
“The results are important on a different level when you start looking at the playoff picture and the race. At the end of the day, two points are going to be important, as well.”
 
The Flyers begin anew with back-to-back games against New Jersey here on Saturday and then the Islanders on Sunday in Brooklyn.
 
They will play four Eastern Conference opponents between Saturday and next Thursday before they begin the three-day All-Stark break.
 
Three of these games are against Metro Division opponents while the fourth is against Toronto. The Maple Leafs happen to hold the second wild card that the Flyers previously had going into the bye week.
 
“Guys realize the situation we are in,” Brayden Schenn said. “We know the circumstances. The break came at a good time, mentally ... Guys know what we’re coming into there with the back-to-backs.
 
“You were kinda scoreboard watching. We know where we’re at. We’re in a dogfight battle with teams for those wild card spots. There’s a lot of hockey left. It’s no secret. Everyone pays attention where we’re at.”
 
Hakstol said after his one-day off, he went right back to work in evaluating where this team is. That the team remains intact without any kind of moves seems to send a message to the players.
 
That message is: it’s on you at this point. Don’t count on getting help from the outside. It has to come from within the current roster.
 
“Anything we’ve talked about is us as a group doing things we do well,” Hakstol said. “We’ve had a rough couple weeks where we haven’t been able to do the things we need to and want to consistently.
 
“I’m very confident in this group and this team. For us, what the players said is true. It was a real good time to have a mental and physical break. Now it’s time to get back to work.”
 
What has to improve right from the get-go is the Flyers' 5-on-5 play. Forget for a moment they have scored 75 goals and are 13th in the NHL averaging 2.76 goals a game.
 
The critical factor is 5-on-5 goals against. The Flyers have allowed 98 goals in that situation – only Colorado [100 GA] has allowed more. Their 3.13 goals against is 28th worst in the league.
 
Unless those number improve significantly, they won’t be in the playoffs.
 
“We have to stay within our system,” said defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. “We give up too many odd-man rushes. Especially in those final games before the break. That’s a big thing.
 
“When we’re giving up that many, it’s not going to be in our favor. It’s not fair to judge our goalies in those games because we didn’t give them too much help out there.”
 
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who plays on a checking line, said the 5-on-5 goals against is a telling stat.
 
“You have it right there,” he said. “You don’t have to say much more than that. You cannot be a consistently, good team in the league if you are that low in goals against. It’s something we have to all work together at, as players.”
 
Hakstol said the Flyers enjoyed success 5-on-5 when they were winning because their team play was “consistent” game-to-game.
 
That hasn’t been the case during this 3-8-3 stretch.
 
“Our 5-on-5 game hasn’t necessarily regressed, but the consistency of it has,” Hakstol said. “That’s when you see the holes defensively. That’s when you see some of the problems you run into.
 
“We’ve got to get back to it. Back to a full 60-minutes of good 5-on-5 play. That’s up to each and every one of us, taking that responsibility and making the push to do that.”

In different spot after bye week, Flyers ready for playoff push with 'new perspective'

In different spot after bye week, Flyers ready for playoff push with 'new perspective'

VOORHEES, N.J. — When we last left the Flyers on Sunday evening, they were picking up pieces of themselves all over the ice at the Verizon Center after a 5-0 beatdown by the Washington Capitals.

They have had to stew over that defeat all through their five-day NHL mandated bye week, which ended Friday afternoon when they reported to Skate Zone for a rare 4 p.m. practice.

They’ll host the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.

“You go into the break thinking about [hockey], but the whole point of it is to refresh mentally,” said Wayne Simmonds, who got engaged. “I didn’t drive myself crazy over it. This a little stretch here before the final playoff drive.”

When Claude Giroux became engaged in late November, the Flyers won eight straight as part of their 10-game streak.

“So to replicate that, we need everyone in here to get engaged,” Simmonds said. “We've got a lot of work to do. We know that. We got off to a good start compared to the past and then we faltered.

“We know we've got to be better. We all have to be accountable to each other. We’re not starting from scratch, but we need a new perspective here. Come out of the gate and do it the right way, again.”

A lot has happened since the loss in Washington. The Flyers remain fifth in the Metropolitan Division, but the layoff has seen them plummet to ninth overall in the Eastern Conference.

None of that, however, is as important as this: the Flyers no longer hold the second wild card. Toronto has it now with the same number of points as the Flyers — 50.

Difference is, the Maple Leafs also have two games in hand on Dave Hakstol’s club. Worse, the Carolina Hurricanes are snapping at the Flyers' skates with 49 points and they have three games in hand.

All of this is entirely the Flyers' fault as they’ve gone 3-8-3 since their 10-game win streak ended.

Yet they remain in striking distance of the wild card, although they are 11 points out of third, which is an automatic playoff spot.

They are fortunate they’re not farther behind in the wild-card standings.

“For sure, over those days there ... our division did lose a little bit,” Brayden Schenn said. “It’s going to happen. But at the end of the day, if we don’t win hockey games, it’s not going to matter what the other team will do.”

After Saturday’s game against the Devils, the Flyers head to Brooklyn for a Sunday night encounter with the Islanders. Sit five days, then play a back-to-back. Ah, the joys of the NHL schedule this season.

“We know we lost all that ground we gained with the 10-game winning streak,” said Jakub Voracek, who shaved off the beard he’s had for a year and a half during the break. “We are right there in a playoff spot. Now we keep pushing.

“We have 36 games left. We go game by game. I don’t remember how many points out we were last year with the playoffs, but we’re in a better position now.”

Last year after 46 games, the Flyers had 48 points, but were seven points out of a wild-card playoff spot. They have two more points now but are in better wild-card shape.

They know they have to get themselves going quickly but the harsh reality is, they seldom play well coming out of a four or five-day break.

Most of the players went away during the break and didn’t think about hockey. They said they wanted to come back refreshed with a new attitude and clean slate. It starts Saturday.

“We have to stop overthinking things,” Voracek said. “When we were winning, we just kept going. When you are losing, you begin to overthink things.

“You’re a half step slower thinking whether you should go or not. That’s our problem. We have to refocus. Everyone is excited to be back. Get back to work. Push this team to the playoffs.”