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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Slow but steady: Flyers are skating in the right direction

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GRAPHIC: MINDY CHOI ’25/THE HAWK

The blue line is painted, sticks are taped, the ice is fresh and it’s officially hockey season once again. Just as in previous seasons, expectations are low for the Philadelphia Flyers as they prepare for their season opener Oct. 12 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

While fans’ hopes are low, they are higher than in previous seasons due to a number of changes on the team and within the organization, the first being the team’s first full season under new general manager (GM) Danny Brière.

Fans were past the point of frustration with former GM Chuck Fletcher, due to a series of underwhelming seasons, making the playoffs once in 2020 during his five years with the team. The point of no return was Fletcher’s lackluster moves at the trade deadline, resulting in Fletcher being fired within the week and Brière being named the interim GM.

Brière shed the “interim” tag two months later, with Keith Jones being named the president of hockey operations.

Within his few months as GM, Brière has already made some big moves for the Flyers, including a successful first draft. In one of the best draft classes, Brière rolled the dice and took a risk drafting Russian right winger Matvei Michkov, a player with talent some argue rivals the Chicago Blackhawks’ first overall pick, Connor Bedard. The risk with Michkov concerns his availability due to his three-year contract with SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

However, the three years Flyers fans will have to wait before seeing Michkov’s name repping the orange and black may be perfect timing in the Flyers’ grand scheme. The team’s rebuild has a long road ahead, and by the time Michkov is ready to come to Philadelphia, the Flyers may finally be ready for the potential franchise player, giving him the supporting cast he deserves.

The young guys on the team have continued to show up as some of the key players for the Flyers and are now a year older and wiser as they enter into this 2023-24 season with more experience behind them. In his second season with the Flyers, 24-year-old forward Owen Tippett was second on the team in goals with 27, second only to veteran forward Travis Konecny who lit the lamp 31 times last season.

Additionally, 22-year-old blueliner Cam York has been a topic of discussion for Flyers fans since his draft day in 2019, but the young defenseman looks ready to enter his first season as an NHL regular for the Flyers. Along with him is 22-year-old right winger Bobby Brink who has been a preseason standout, netting the shootout winner Sept. 29 against the Boston Bruins.

These fresh faces are supported by some familiar ones as well. 2020 Selke Trophy winner Sean Couturier has returned to the ice after 20 months, following two back surgeries that prevented him from participating in the 2022-23 season. With him returns forward Cam Atkinson after about a year and a half of being out due to a neck injury. These vets are sure to bring some fire back to the Flyers, but cannot be expected to carry the team on a freshly rehabbed back and neck.

Finally, at the very end of the defending zone, goalie Carter Hart has defended his position as the team’s franchise goalie, with Samuel Ersson winning the backup position, according to head coach John Tortorella.

With new and old faces alike, both on the ice and in the front office, the Flyers are sure to be moving in the right direction. Within a few years they may finally achieve the rebuild fans have been hoping for. But for now, expectations are low for all the 2023-24 season may encompass.

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Mia Messina
Mia Messina, Sports Editor
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