PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said three words Saturday night after he put the bookend to an era of Philadelphia hockey, and it was all that was needed. It was time.
“It was time for Jake to go to a new team and re-energize,” Fletcher said on a Zoom news conference. “It was time for us to bring in different players and get going in a different direction. It’s as simple as that.”READ MORE: Fourth Of July Weekend Weather: Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued For Most Of Philadelphia Region
Fletcher punctuated a busy eight-day span Saturday by completing a blockbuster trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, trading Jakub Voracek for Cam Atkinson. It capped off an eight-day period that saw the Flyers ship out five players and four draft picks and bring in Atkinson, Ryan Ellis, and Rasmus Ristolainen.
None was bigger than the Voracek trade on Saturday, if only for the bat signal it sent to Flyers.
“You know what, we just can’t keep bringing the same players back year after year and expect different results,” Fletcher said. “We had to make changes this year. The players that we’ve added are all, what I would call, high energy, competitive people. … We need to change the mood in the room and the energy in the room. It’s nothing against the players that we had here before. It’s about trying to create a new group, a new leadership group, new chemistry.”
In other words, it’s a new day for Flyers hockey.
The Voracek era ends after 10 years, and as Fletcher noted, he’s “one of the best players in franchise history.” His 427 assists are fifth all-time in team history, as are his 162 power-play assists. His 604 points and his 727 games come in at 10th all-time in franchise history. There’s no debate in numbers.
What defines the past 10 seasons of Flyers hockey, and this doesn’t fall just on Voracek, is this.
Two playoff series wins. Playoff season, non-playoff season, playoff season, non-playoff season, playoff season, non-playoff season, playoff season, non-playoff season, playoff season, non-playoff season.READ MORE: Teenager In Upper Darby Dies Due To Gunshot Wound After Playing With Family Member's Gun: Police
“When you’re somewhere for 10 years, you imagine yourself and your teammates, especially with [Claude Giroux] and [Sean Couturier], it was basically just the three of us left, to win,” Voracek said on a Zoom conference with reporters. “We didn’t do it. … I kind of had a feeling that if something is going to pop up for them, I’m going to get traded and I was open to it. It’s a business. I know how it works. There’s no hard feelings between me or Chuck Fletcher. I have a lot of friends and a lot of memories from Philly.”
The Voracek for Atkinson trade may not be Fletcher’s most impactful move over the past eight days. Acquiring Ellis remains supreme, as it gives the Flyers a veteran to anchor their top pair with Ivan Provorov. But it does send a clear, loud message to the players and the fanbase.
This is now Chuck Fletcher’s team.
“Culture, to me, is sometimes one of the more overused terms in sports and culture, to me, really just means it’s the environment that you create,” Fletcher said. “That’s created by the players and their work ethic, what they do on and off the ice, how they treat their teammates, and their team orientation.
“All three of these guys, from the research we’ve done and the people we’ve spoken with, love to play hockey. They love to come to the rink and be with their teammates. They want to win. They want to compete. It was a really important part of re-establishing that leadership group.
“I think today was a good day for the Flyers.”
Perhaps Saturday was a good day for the FlyersMORE NEWS: West Philadelphia Shooting Leaves Man In Extremely Critical Condition, Police Say
The results will be known in just a few months, but Saturday was certainly a new day, an exciting one, and one that could be the defining moment of what the next decade of Flyers hockey will be like.