The Philadelphia Flyers have done a great job over the years of keeping former players active in the organization after their playing days. They continue to bring players in as ambassadors, scouts, coaches, broadcasters and even general managers. The Flyers have gone out of their way to create jobs and positions within the organization for guys like Bob Kelly, Keith Jones, Brian Propp, Derian Hatcher, Ian Laperriere and Chris Therien. If there is one thing you can say about Ed Snider it is that he treats his players well; if you bleed and work hard for his team he will make you a Flyer for life.
The Flyers also have many players that have captured the hearts of our city. It always amazes me how long the lines still are to meet the Broad Street Bullies at the Flyers Wives Carnival. This city loves a winner, but they also love guys who play with passion, who love the game just as much as the fans. Fan favorites like Bobby (not Bob) Clarke, Bernie Parent, Reggie Leach, Ron “2hander” Hextall, Dave Brown, John LeClair, Michael Leighton and most recently Claude Giroux continue to drink free in any Philadelphia bar because they are Philly Guys. They aren’t just players to us fans, they are like family, they embody what we are as Philadelphians because they get us and we get them.
This brings me to Rick Tocchet, in the mid to late 80’s Rick Tocchet was Flyers hockey. This guy did it all, he fought, hit, scored clutch goal and had a sick hockey mullet. Every woman in Philadelphia wanted to be with him and every man wanted to be like him.
Who can forget the beginning of the “Never Say Die” Flyers movie about the 1989 Flyers, featuring a young Rick Tocchet with a belly shirt jogging in slow motion, somehow he seemed to make that look cool. In 1992, Tocchet was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, along with Kjell Samuelsson and Ken Wregget, in exchange for Mark Recchi. In 14 playoff games, he scored 19 points, helping the Penguins repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Our team was awful and we had to watch as one of our biggest rivals won their 2nd straight Stanley Cup with one of our favorite players. Then in 1999 they Flyers brought Tocchet back to help with the team for the playoff push. I happened to be at the first home game Tocchet scored his first goals as a returning Flyer and the building went crazy. We had our guy back and he was going to fight whoever he could to help us win a cup.
During the 2010 playoffs Ed Snider brought back Tocchet to be an analyst on Flyers Postgame Live and has been a mainstay ever since. Tocchet not only brings his expertise from playing but he also has many years of coaching under his belt. In the years since Tocchet retired he was as assistant coach of Colorado, Phoenix and Tampa Bay and then became the head coach for about 2 seasons with Tampa. He also got into some legal trouble, with being part of a gambling ring that involved many people across the county including good friend Wayne Gretzky’s wife Janet. Tocchet has proven since his retirement he could be a great asset to Ed Snider, Comast Spectacor and the Philadelphia Flyers. He just needs to be utilized in the right way.
The Obvious: Sports Book at Xfinity Live
Let’s face it Xfinity Live sucks. It’s the same crappy food and over priced beer we get at the stadiums but now we get to watch the Flyers game with bad music and drunk idiots spilling beer on us. The place has little or no character and there is nothing fun about it. So how can we liven that place up a bit? Add a sports book. It’s the perfect place; it is within good driving distance from New York (ok that part sucks) and D.C. We have an international airport, major colleges, a healthy appetite for sports, and who doesn’t like to gamble? Tocchet will obviously be a great a running this, you know since he has such good experience in this before and this will make Comcast a lot more money so hopefully our cable prices go down. Also, we learned during his gambling bust that Tocchet is real close with the Gretzky’s so I’m sure he could get Paulina to make a few Paris Hilton Style appearances.
The Probable: Replace Steve Coates between the Glass
I hate to be that guy but Coatesy is terrible. I honestly don’t think he brings one positive thing to my telecast. I know Flyers fans love to complain about Peirre McGuire, but I’d take him telling me about what Claude Giroux did in Junior over listening to Coatsey scream non-sense about how Bryz got scored on glove side b/c he was down in the butterfly. For whatever reason that guy can’t get through his head that just about every goalie goes into the butterfly; this isn’t the 80’s. Tocchet brings playing and coaching experience to the game. He can break down in game systems, player and coaching decisions and will educate the Flyer fan with an objective point of view. There are many ex-players that are between the glass who have a grip on today’s game and do a wonderful job. Ray “Chicken Parm” Ferraro is a great example working for TSN or Rob Ray doing the Buffalo games.
The Needs to Happen: Replace Joe Mullen as assistant coach
The Flyers power play isn’t good, please don’t get confused about that ridiculous Penguins series where they were just about 100%. That Penguins team had zero defense and a goalie that has made one key save in his entire NHL career. When the Flyers play a team with a good penalty kill or a good goalie they have not converted enough under Mullen. The Flyers power play has very little player movement and is very predictable, they run it as set plays instead of player rotation and taking what is giving to them. Take for example the Hartnell scores in the slot from Giroux play, after the Bruins hat trick game everyone in the league knew when Giroux got the puck on the half wall he was passing to Hartnell in the high slot, teams started to move towards Hartnell and that play stopped working. Yes the Flyers lack a booming shot from the point, but they don’t need one with the types of skill players they can put on the ice. If Tocchet becomes as Flyers assistant coach he will run his power play like he did in Tampa with tons of player movement and power play style rotation. When his team rotates their power play set it open more shooting and passing lanes for the players. This will also tire out the penalty kill unit and give less chance for an intercepted pass. Tocchet also did wonders with Steve Downie in Tampa, he would be a great help to guys the young guys on the Flyers.
When we finally start playing hockey the Flyers are going to need their special team to be well, special. If they add Tocchet to the coaching staff as a special teams coach, they will thrive and have the best power play we’ve seen in years. So, Ed Snider you have three options for Tocchet, please make the right decision.
My original article mentioned that Tocchet demanded a trade from Philadelphia in 1992, I sent a tweet to Tocchet this morning with the article and he let me know that he never asked the Flyers for a trade. He also mentioned his legal issues and names involved were blown out of proportion. After the NHL and the state of NJ did their due diligence his probation was waived and he returned to the NHL. You can check out the conversation on our twitter feed @hexys2hander
Tocchet reading my article and responding to it is just another reason why he is the man!