The biggest news in hockey this weekend was the firing of Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock and the resignation of Flyers General Manager, Bobby Clarke. Nobody in the organization has been pleased with the slow start of the team and apparently owner Ed Snider decided a change in leadership would jump start things. Hitchcock did seem to lose the ear of his players as they obviously gave up in the 9-1 loss to the Sabres and didn't play very well in subsequent losses to the Lightning and Panthers. What's really surprising to me is the departure of Clarke as GM who I thought had that job for life. Here are some interesting quotes in Tim Panaccio's article from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Clarke on why he resigned:
â€œI felt strongly that from the end of last season on, I donâ€™t know if I was burnt out or tired or something, but the decisions that had to be made, I was not willing to make them and I was letting other people make them,â€ Clarke said.
â€œI wasnâ€™t doing the right job for this organization. Mr. Snider is a friend and the best owner in professional sports and didnâ€™t deserve this, the fans didnâ€™t deserve it, and the organization didnâ€™t deserve it.
Club chairman Ed Snider on Clarke knowing the time had come to leave:
â€œWhen a man can sit up here and say he hasnâ€™t done the job, it shows what kind of man he is,â€ Snider said. â€œHe came to that realization himself and was man enough to do it â€¦ This is why I respect Bob Clarke so much. I have always known I would not have to fire Bob Clarke and that he would fire himself.â€
John Stevens will take over as coach while I imagine a search will begin for a new General Manager. Will Iron Mike Keenan submit his resume for the job? Paul Holmgren will assume the responsibilities for now. While leadership is in flux in the City of Brotherly Love, the cupboard isn't exactly bare. The Phantoms are a very successful affiliate team with plenty of potential NHL talent. The Flyers should still be able to score some goals once they find their mojo, but the question is can they shore up their slow and aging defense? They will have to if they expect to make a post-season run again this year.
Now to the Canes this weekend! That was one exciting game in Buffalo Friday night. Again, it was pretty even but the Sabres did outplay the Canes in the 3rd and deserved the win. The Canes took some penalties in that 3rd period which prevented them from completing a valiant comeback. Final score, Sabres 5, Canes 4.
The next night in Long Island the Canes ended up losing a game in OT they thought they deserved to win. While they outshot the Islandgirls 40 to 25, again they took undisciplined penalties in the 3rd period that ended up costing them the game. Mike Sillinger scored the tying goal on a power play late in regulation thanks to a tripping penalty by Tim Gleason and Tom Poti scored the game winner early in OT thanks to a holding penalty on Mike Commodore. The final, Islanders 4, Canes 3.
I like the energy, drive, and desire of the team lately. The main difference I see in this year's team versus last year's is the inability to keep out of the penalty box at key stages of the game. Last year we were the ones drawing the penalties and keeping out of the box. This year we are the ones commiting the bad penalties. Our injuries could have something to do with it of course, but I won't use that as an excuse. These are just mental lapses that hopefully can be corrected pretty easily. The defense is still trying to come together and is a concern. We also need to get a decent game out of John Grahame.
All things considered though, we had an excellent road trip going 3-3-1. Most teams in the league would be pleased as punch with that record after 7 consecutive games on the road. We just need to win some games at home now and take advantage of this very good trip. The Canes got a well deserved day off on Sunday and will be back to their normal practice schedule on Monday. Red hot Atlanta comes to town for our next game Wednesday night.
Let's Go Canes!