Michael DeNicola

 

Pardon me for a moment, but I thought once the news went out that James van Riemsdyk signed an extension with the Philadelphia Flyers, Orange & Black nation en masse would be celebrating where they stood. 

I could not have been more wrong. 

 

I love my fanbase. I live and die protecting them which is no easy task. But what is certain about us is that we've got a very large majority of negative brutes who hang on every shred of good news like a metaphorical wet blanket. 

How's the saying go? "Misery loves company"?

Who said it was easy being a Philadelphia sports fan? No one. I've been on this earth for a little over 28 years and only lived to see one championship be brought to this city. Others who were around for the previous parades agree it's been far too long with little results. It seems as if cities like Boston and Pittsburgh wait every other year before one of their sports franchises dons the ring of a Champion, while Philadelphia sits in agony, starving to be called the best but labeled the underdog year in, year out. So I understand the frustration. 

Frustration is a very, very strong emotion. It is not the raw feeling, but it is merely an extension that's branched from our experiences as the common Philadelphia fan. 

 

So where the hell am I going with all of this?

van Riemsdyk signed a 6-year, $25.5M extension yesterday. That comes out to a $4.25M cap hit each league year for the next 6 years. 

The complaint? "He hasn't done enough for the Flyers to earn that kind of money."

 

Wow, a whole rush of disappointment collides with my brain at once when I hear this. It wasn't enough for some fans who complained about Jeff Carter and Mike Richards while they were on this team, but when they were dealt for players, prospects and high draft picks (which will ultimately balance our attack from the wing positions) these same nut cases complained about getting rid of our top scorers. 

It wasn't enough for some fans spending almost an entire generation's length with absolutely NO true #1 goalie in net, but when the brass went out and signed the best puck stopper on the open market, these same cretins had a boat load of complaints about the contract and his performance in the playoffs last season. 

These fans wanted to see our management lead this team in some direction. Holmgren and Snider did exactly that ALL off season long by making the squad younger, filling the basement with immense potential, and did so by keeping this team Cup competitive and peppered with solid veteran experience. 

One last cherry on top of this icy desert was sealing, easily, our best playoff performer from last year at a major discounted price. 

 

Lemme ask you something; Do you have ANY idea what it takes to build a championship winning hockey club? I mean REALLY know the ins and outs of all the politics, the intricacies and formulas of what it takes to form chemistry between players? All the while abiding by the maze of shit that is this leagues Collective Bargaining Agreement?

Don't bother answering. Because the answer's "No." You don't. If you did, you wouldn't be reading this. You'd be texting Paul Holmgren from your BlackBerry while attending a game in some small potatos league up in the goddamn frozen tundra of Yukon, Canada, watching what could be a potential prospect. Not scratching your nuts, sniffing your fingers and posting how, "Holmgren's a complete fool! What a n00b!"

 

What Paul and the rest of the bench bosses are doing is turning the face of this franchise around, steering the team through (what they believe to be as) better waters. In order to do this, chances and risks must be made. If you're brand new to the term, our management's been taking these risks all off season long. Not because they grabbed the die from a Yahtzee! game and decided to put the future of the team on one flick of their wrist, but because these are professionals who got where they are because they know a thing or two. 

They know more than the talking, bobbling heads on the radio. They know more than Disco Dick from Newtown, PA complaining each second of every day about, "Who should wear the captain's C on their jersey???" They know more than the buffoon who sits at his computer wiping the Pringles flakes from the corners of his mouth between arguing online about which one of our players is the laziest. 

And they certainly know more than the puck bunnies who wear "I <3 Jeff Carter" across their chest who piss, whine and cry that our management got rid of the best looking player on the team. 

 

James van Riemsdyk was signed because the kid took on a brand new role last season, adapted well, and finished as one of the strongest performers for us. James van Riemsdyk was signed because he'd be entering the final year on his contract, and rather than waste time during the upcoming season, Homer and Snider got the inevitable outta the way sooner. James van Riemsdyk was signed because he's a 22 year old, 6'3" man-child chosen 2nd Overall behind Patrick Kane. James van Riemsdyk was signed because he's got more potential to get even BETTER and by the time its proven....we'll look at this contract as a steal. 

So excuse my rant. Excuse me for (probably) offending a great deal of you readers. Excuse me for refreshing all the stupidity in the minds of the naysayers who get off on tying a lead balloon to those who understand just how exciting this season -- and the seasons to follow -- could become. 

You wanna bitch about something? Bitch about me. I'm an asshole. But let the Generals of this regiment do their jobs. At least they're showing signs of life. It could be worse. 

We could have Brian Burke as GM.