After drooping into the abyss of the Eastern Conference, with a record of 2-8-1 in Dec., the Flyers seemed utterly lost and the season appeared over. But after a 4-1-1 upswing to bring in the New Year, things are looking up for the Orange and Black. But what exactly changed?
According to the Globe and Mail, the veterans stopped playing nice guys and took charge.
“… Insiders say the problem was never as serious as open confrontations between teammates. But there came a point where [Chris] Pronger and one or two other veterans were said to have told the younger players that their concentration on their jobs needed improvement. This was reinforced by Laviolette with a couple of bag skates, and an attitude adjustment took hold …”
When coach John Stevens, who mentored many of the younger Flyers for the extent of their professional career, earned a swift firing, there were reports of a split within the locker room between the veterans and the younger players. Chris Pronger became the go-to guy for the media, as he dished on the team needing more from its leadership and a stronger work ethic, eclipsing second-year captain Mike Richards. Pronger made sure to state that he didn’t want to step on toes, being that it was just his first year with these Flyers. However, as the losing streak got worse it seems as though social niceties were put aside.
“I don’t think our effort was in question at times. It was playing smart, playing with enthusiasm, with energy,” Pronger told the Globe. “We were working hard but we weren’t working smart. In this league, you’ve got to concentrate on your job on the ice.”
The message apparently rang home for the Flyers’ young guns Jeff Carter and Richards. The captain responded with four goals and three assists during the six-game run, while Carter scored two goals with four assists in the same time. Add in Simon Gagne’s return with eight points in as many games and it’s easy to see why the once left-for-dead Flyers are back from the grave.