Hockey Fans Will Return, Are Not Unique in Their Love of the Game

Hockey Fans Will Return, Are Not Unique in Their Love of the Game

We heard a recurring theme during the NHL lockout. The
league put you, the fan, through this again because they understand their greatest
supporters are diehard hockey lovers, and those people are not going away.

Now that the work stoppage has finally ended, it’s being played
off to the same old tune. Hockey fans are just so passionate and hardcore, they
will pack arenas across the States and Canada the moment the buzzer sounds.

It’s almost as if the media is daring you to boycott.

Hockey fans may be a unique sect in many aspects, but in
this one respect they are not. Lockouts and strikes and bitter, public feuding
over collective bargaining agreements don’t keep fans away for very long in any
sport – and they shouldn’t.

Sure, none of the other major professional sports leagues
have experienced three lengthy work stoppages in less than two decades as the
NHL has. In that respect, maybe it is slightly more impressive people keep
going back.

But don’t we always go back? Did the NBA suffer any
long-lasting harm from playing a lockout-shortened schedule just a season ago? Was
Major league Baseball permanently reduced to rubble when a strike claimed the
World Series in 1994?

Obviously not. There are always fans, whether they are
baseball fans, football fans, basketball fans, or hockey fans.

That’s not to say nobody ever gets turned off by labor
strife. Some fans undoubtedly will demonstrate, whether that’s simply with
their wallets, or by swearing off the NHL altogether. Maybe a handful never
comes around.

For everybody else, the allure of the game is just too
strong – but that part of the equation is not unique to hockey, nor has it ever
been, and the reason is universal. Do you really want to deprive yourself of
something that brings you so much enjoyment?

Why, because employers and employees had a financial
dispute?

That’s business, and when it’s your paycheck at stake, then
you get to decide what is or isn’t worth fighting for. And while it’s a shame
it has to drag on the emotions of the consumer, at the end of the day, how were
fans wronged, truly?

The season was cut in half. That’s it. Hell, you could make
the case they did us a favor there.

Hey, come back, don’t come back – it doesn’t matter to me,
nor is it my place to say. But it doesn’t matter whether or not you come back,
either, because most fans will. Maybe not immediately or all at once – before
long though it will be like nothing ever happened.

Are we there yet? Philly Sports Talk examines the state of the Flyers

Are we there yet? Philly Sports Talk examines the state of the Flyers

All week on Philly Sports Talk on CSN, we examine how our teams got to this point and where they are in the rebuilding process. 
 
Today, we finish up by taking a look at the Flyers.

 
How did we get here?
The Flyers' rebuild had begun when Ron Hextall returned to his old stomping grounds in the summer of 2013 as the team's new assistant general manager.
 
He took over GM duties after one season and the philosophical change was in place. Paul Holmgren was made president and Hextall's imprint, which had already started, was ready to become bigger.
 
What Hextall inherited was a cap-stricken team fresh off a first-round playoff loss, an organization that had tried to spend its way to immediate results instead of putting greater focus on the long game.
 
Some of the past decisions are well-documented: signing enigmatic goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal in 2011 after trading for him. With a buyout, the Flyers are still paying Bryzgalov through 2027. Signing veteran center Vinny Lecavalier to a five-year, $22.5 million contract in 2013. And signing imposing defenseman Chris Pronger to a seven-year, $34.55 million extension — nobody could foresee the unfortunate concussion issues that suddenly derailed Pronger's career, but it was nonetheless a hurdle for the Flyers moving forward.
 
Hextall has adeptly maneuvered through much of those rocky waters.
 
Now, the Flyers are a more cost-efficient (partly because they have to be in this salary cap world), draft-oriented organization planning for the future while not ignoring the present. This rebuild hasn't been a total demolition, but more of a retooling — a smart but tricky process, especially down the line.
 
Are the Flyers on the right path back to prosperity?
The youth is coming.
 
Hextall, oftentimes close to the vest, made that abundantly clear at his end-of-the-season press conference.
 
"Our young players, they've done enough," Hextall said in early April. "Our young players are going to get a long look. We don't plan on going out and signing veterans on the back end. Our kids, it's time to give them a shot, and we're going to do that."
 
But the really hard part is just beginning — results. Can the prospects catch up and meet the current core? The pressure for it to start has never been higher.
 
Help does appear to be on the way, though, for a team that regressed this season and missed the playoffs for the third time in the past five years.
 
Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon, Felix Sandstrom and Carter Hart give the Flyers future options in net.
 
Two promising prospects are expected to join Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere and company on the blue line.
 
Oskar Lindblom, a dynamic 20-year-old winger, could crack the Flyers' group of forwards, which should have Jordan Weal and Valtteri Filppula for a full season.
 
Also, don't forget forward Mike Vecchione, a Hobey Baker finalist who signed with the Flyers out of Union College in late March.
 
Oh, and the No. 2 pick of the draft — likely a talented center — is in the Flyers' grasp.
 
The 2017-18 season will be a telling time for the Flyers. Patience has been required, but when will it be rewarded?
 
The clock is ticking.

The Game of Zones-Joel Embiid mashup you didn't know you needed

The Game of Zones-Joel Embiid mashup you didn't know you needed

There are times in all of our Internet lives when we come across a piece of content that we don't quite understand, that we didn't really know we needed, yet fills our black Philadelphia sports fan hearts with joy anyway.

Today is one of those days.

And that piece of content is this Game of Zones x Embiid mashup.

If you're unfamiliar, this is the latest in Bleacher Report's fun take on a Game of Thrones / NBA mashup.

There's the mountain of a man that is Joel Embiid laid up with a presumably bum knee. There's the Temple of Shirley potion to give him life. There's the maester Sam Hinkie shouting off his analytics spells. There's Hinkie talking about growing the seeds and reaping the harvest. There's a terrifying looking Dario. There is a raising of the cat. 

Perhaps the best part is Jahlil Okafor attempting to hold the door.

What does it all mean? I don't know. But I trust it.