Updated: Nov 22, 2020
Growing up as a Canadiens fan, there is no doubt that one of their fiercest rivals was the Philadelphia Flyers. Throughout the 80s , they had not only kept their signature "physicality" and toughness from the 70s but they were also loaded with a plethora of talented players (notably at the forward position). They were fun to watch and competitive year in and year out. I developed a love-hate sort of thing for the orange and black and had great admiration for real gutsy warrior-type players like Rich Tocchet and Scott Mellanby.
And then came the start of the next decade, when, partly due to the toll their style of play took on some key players, and partly due to bad luck with regards to injuries (Tim Kerr comes to mind, albeit his downfall began a couple of years earlier), the Flyers became nothing but a middling team, with little in the way of young promising talent.
That was until the Next One, Sir Eric, joined the team in one of the greatest blockbuster trades in sports history. With a few key additions in the ensuing seasons, the Flyers quickly became one of the league's behemoth teams and the famed Legion of Doom line terrorized opponents for several seasons much to the delight of fans in the City of Brotherly Love. The team unfortunately fell short, as their lack of depth and inconsistent depth did them in.
Fast forward to the current roster of the Philadelphia Flyers and one would certainly be hard pressed to find many parralels with those 70s or 80s teams. Those teams had talent no doubt but the current edition of the Orange and Black is loaded with balance at ALL positions, including on the backend and backed by an exceptional young goalie in Carter Hart. Comparisons are often made between Hart and his mentor, Carey Price, but Hart seems more poised, consistent, and certainly focused (or shall we say has less distractions) than the Canadiens' franchise player was at his age. The Flyers are also loaded with big mobile d-men in Provorov, Sanheim, and Myers, to name but a few. And they certainly have an impressive young, talented core to to surround some of their still able vets like Couturier, Hayes, Voracek and Giroux. Konecky, Farabee, Nolan Patrick, Lindblom, Laughton, Aube-Kubel, and eventually, a kid like Morgan Frost, should make for one of the more balanced group of forwards in the NHL, combining speed, scoring ability as well as some decent size.
Given the current state of the Metropolitan division with aging teams like the Capitals and Penguins set to take a step back, and a lack of clear cut powerhouse rosters amongst the remaining divisional foes, fans can and should expect a team that is set to dominate the division, at least for the foreseable future. Their salary cap situation also has them in decent position compared to several of the other promising conference leaders (Tampa, Toronto, to name but a couple). Every sign seems to be pointing to some exciting times ahead. Despite several recent seasons spent in the dark, one can truly see some glimmering rays of sunshine peering through. In that respect, Flyers fans, orange will truly become your new black.