In early October, Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider told THN he was more than happy to allow GM Ron Hextall to build the team slowly and not engage in blockbuster trades, as has been the franchise's custom as often as not under his stewardship.
“Ron Hextall has come in and preached patience,” Snider said at the time. “Ron said, ‘We’re not going to rush guys along. We’re going to develop our kids and really work on that phase of the game.’ That was my philosophy when I started the team.”
That was five months ago. Now, talking to Philly.com, Snider sounds as if he's not quite so certain about the whole patience thing.
"I don't like to give the impression that, 'Hey, we aren't going to win.' " Snider said. "It's Ron's job to analyze why. Why did this same team that made the playoffs (last season) fall?"
Snider's team is already saddled with a number of onerous contracts (including veteran Vincent Lecavalier's $4.5 million cap hit lasting through the next three seasons, and R.J. Umberger's two remaining seasons left at a $4.6 million average annual value) born of what some would say is an overeagerness to succeed sooner than later. And although Snider reiterated his support for Hextall's game plan in his latest interview, the Flyers' relatively close proximity to a playoff spot earlier this season has apparently whetted his appetite to continue pushing for results now.
"You don't say when you've got (star center Claude) Giroux, and you've got (Jake) Voracek, and you've got (Steve) Mason and you've got the kind of pieces like (Wayne) Simmonds that we have, that, 'Hey, you've got to be patient, we might make the playoffs in 2 or 3 years,' " he said. "[Bleep] that...We've got to make sure our message gets through properly. Patience is great with the kids. But patience isn't great with the team we have on the ice."
It just might be another and notable off-season in Philadelphia after all.