By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE – Sorry, Ed.
And I can call you that – as opposed to Mr. Snider – so don’t give me one of those icy stares.
I am not cast under your spell.
Your name is not on my paycheck.
I am not a beat writer, covering the team you own – with an admirable passion – the Philadelphia Flyers.
You are not a Roman Emperor.
You are not a mafia don.
You are just an owner of a team – with the burning desire to see the Stanley Cup hoisted once more before nature runs its course – who is ticked that his prize possession, team captain Claude Giroux, was left off the roster of Canadian Olympic team for the ongoing Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
You called it a farce.
Aside from the games being awarded to Sochi in the first place, there is no farce going on here.
Not with the case of Giroux.
It’s not a farce, Ed.
It’s a fact.
One as cold and hard as the ice surface the teams will be skating on the next few weeks.
Giroux probably belonged on the team, but he was a not a slam dunk.
There are enough NHL standouts and stars born in Canada to send over A and B teams that could be in medal contention.
If that were the case, Giroux would be there, too.
But it’s not the case.
Instead, Austria (with Michael Raffl ), Slovakia (with Andrej Meszaros) and Norway (with one NHL player on its roster) have teams over there with as much of a chance to medal as my street hockey team from Wilson Junior High.
It would be nice if the Flyers were a little more universal, and had more than two aging defenseman – Mark Streit (Switzerland) and Kimmo Timonen (Finland) – and no forwards playing for, say, Sweden or Russia in the Olympics (and just two Canadian forwards and one Russian defenseman in the World Junior games).
It was bad luck – a hand injury while golfing late in the offseason– more than anything else that made Giroux a non-Olympian.
He couldn’t participate in pre-Olympic gatherings, and then got off to a slow start when the puck was dropped on the NHL season.
He was a bubble choice, at best, and he missed being inside Steve Yzerman’s bubble. Yzerman, who is the general manager of both Team Canada and the Tampa Bay Lightning, chose his own player, Martin St. Louis, to replace injured Lightning star Steven Stamkos on the roster this past week.
Not a farce. A fact.
And it’s one that could work to the Flyers’ advantage.
Giroux will be rested and ready to go – with a hand further rehabbed – when the Olympics end.
It gives us reason to root for Canada to win the gold, as it raise the chip on Giroux’s shoulder the size of William Penn’s cap atop City Hall.
If you want to talk about farces, though, let’s do it.
Giroux’s golf partner that day was boyhood friend Jason Akeson, whose quick thinking may have saved Giroux’s season – or maybe his career.
Akeson was not some chum with whom Giroux was doing some offseason golfing.
He is also a hockey player within the Flyers’ “organ-I-zation.”
He skated one game with the Flyers, at the end of last season, and scored a goal.
Not really an anomaly, though, as Akeson seems to find his way onto the score sheet more than he does the penalty box. That he currently leads the Adirondack Phantoms in scoring with 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists) in 45 games is not a fluke. Akeson, who just recorded his 100th career AHL assist while setting up Tye McGinn, is on his way to leading the Phantoms in scoring for the third straight season.
Why not a shot at the roster for this kid? Could it be that the Flyers are looking less at his 150 points in 183 AHL games and more at his “wimpy” 75 penalty minutes and 5-10 and 190-pound frame?
It has been said that Akeson is “allergic” to the defensive end of the ice, but is there not as much room on the roster for an offensive specialist as there is for defensive ones who kill penalties, let alone goons who drop the gloves once in a while and try to stay out of the way the rest of the time?
The Flyers once had a guy named Ron Flockhart who posted productive numbers (33 goals, 39 assists) as a rookie in 1981-82. He was primarily playing on the fourth line and on power plays, while taking shifts on a “scoring” line when the team needed a spark.
That is a fact.
The Flyers’ fourth-liners these days? We have Jay Rosehill, Adam Hall and Zac Rinaldo. Raffl has been dropped from the first to fourth line and, according to coach Craig Berube, is “making his linemates better.”
Could he make them much worse?
Prior to Saturday’s last game before the Olympic break, giving Snider’s sycophants in the town’s mainstream press more time to bemoan the grave injustice done to Giroux, the Rosehill-Hall-Rinaldo Bermuda Triangle has rung up a combined eight points (5 goals, 3 assists) in 133 games while posting 200 penalty minutes.
Those are facts.
And it’s a farce.
The response will be that it is not all about numbers. They’ll that it is about grit and being “good guys in the room” and not having any allergies to the defensive end of the ice.
Just keep in mind that they are a combined minus-18, and the “good guys in the room” stuff is often nothing more than a lame cover story.
Grit? I’ll take some offense from a fourth-liner on a regular basis in exchange for a trip to the sin bin for over-zealousness or the “great check of the game” that makes Steve Coates go apoplectic.
The sad thing here is that you would think the Flyers would have learned their lesson.
It’s sitting right there on the Canadian Olympic roster.
The real farce is not that Giroux is missing but the fact that Patrick Sharp, a vital cog for the mighty Chicago Blackhawks, is on the roster.
And he belongs there, without argument.
Even from King Ed.
Sharp was drafted by the Flyers back in the third round in 2001 and was showing promise, as fourth-liner when dealt to Chicago for Matt Ellison, who was billed as a quick skater with offensive skills.
Ellison, currently eking out a living playing overseas, skated in a grand total of seven games for the Flyers, managing an assist.
Even at the AHL level, when the Phantoms were playing in the old Spectrum, he was nowhere near as productive as Akeson, checking in with 64 points in 110 games.
The rationale for the perplexing trade at the time, as given by former general manager Bob Clarke (Snider’s adopted son), was that Sharp wasn’t getting enough ice time on the fourth line.
So you would rather trade away a young talent and get nothing in return?
You want a farce, Ed?
There is your farce.
Spare us the righteous indignation.
This column originally appeared at http://www.phillyphanatics.com