The unofficial start of the holiday-shopping season started Friday, so it seems like a good time to recommend some gift ideas for the Flyers, and those connected to the team.
To James van Riemsdyk: A permanent spot on the third line. He’s much too valuable to be buried on the fourth unit.
To Claude Giroux: More respect. He’s a borderline Hockey Hall of Famer, yet he gets criticized to no end by fans who say he is overrated. It reminds me of the way the great Mike Schmidt used to be treated by Phillies fans. Schmidt wasn’t truly appreciated until very late in his career.
To Alain Vigneault: A Stanley Cup. He’s a hockey lifer and one of the winningest coaches in NHL history but has never won a Cup.
To Jake Voracek: Come to think of it, Vigneault already gave him a gift by putting him on a line with Sean Couturier. Playing alongside talented linemates Couturier and Oskar Lindblom has given the colorful Voracek his swagger back. Or, to use his words, he again has that “-- you attitude” and is playing much better.
To Shayne Gostisbehere: After being a healthy scratch recently, Gostisbehere said he had some “confidence issues,” so a copy of the best-selling book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK seems appropriate.
To Lou Nolan: A spot in the Flyers’ Hall of Fame. This is long overdue for an affable man who has been working for the organization (initially in the PR department and for the last 48 years as the public-address announcer) since its inception in 1967.
To Joe Kadlec, who spent 40 years working for the Flyers and was their first PR director: See Nolan’s gift.
To long-suffering Flyers fans: See Vigneault’s gift.
To the people who created the Flyers’ Rage Room: Season tickets to Penguins home games.
To GM Chuck Fletcher: Another proven scorer at wing.
To rookies Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee, and Phil Myers: A copy of Flyers: The Big 50 (excuse the shameless plug) so they can learn a little about the late, great Ed Snider, who was always extra exuberant when young players made a splash with the Flyers. (In his last days, knowing the end was near in 2016, he talked somberly to one of his sons, Jay, about Gostisbehere: “My God. I can’t believe I’m not going to see this guy’s career,” he said.)
To the radio team of Tim Saunders and Steve Coates: More recognition for being the funniest, most spontaneous broadcast duo on the Philadelphia sports scene — and no disrespect is meant to Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen of the Phillies.
To Carter Hart: A long and healthy career for a 21-year-old who has been a gift for Flyers fans, who have been patiently waiting for a top-notch goalie for, well, what seems like forever.
To Samuel Morin: Some good luck. He recently underwent his second surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee. If anyone can make a strong comeback from such another devastating injury, it is the hard-working Morin, a 24-year-old defenseman who somehow has kept his good humor through all the bad luck.
To Sean Couturier: His first Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward; he was a Selke finalist in 2017-18.
To Gritty: A date with the Phanatic.
To Mike Yeo: Any gift that represents a surprise. Perhaps a pair of socks that has photos of all his penalty killers’ faces on it? Why? Because the Flyers’ new assistant has their penalty-kill among the best in the NHL. For those who have watched the team’s PK struggles (mainly because of bad goaltending) in recent years, the transformation has been startling.
To Nolan Patrick: A permanent solution to his migraine disorder. Here’s hoping he can return to the game he loves and, most important, can live a normal life.
To Ivan Provorov: Oh, never mind. Fletcher already gave him his gift by acquiring his defensive partner, Matt Niskanen, who has stabilized Provorov‘s game and given him freedom to take more chances with the puck.
To Travis Konecny: His first All-Star selection.
To the line of Oskar Lindblom, Couturier, and Voracek: A catchy nickname. How about the LCV Line, which plays off the most famous unit in Flyers history: the LCB Line of Reggie Leach, Bobby Clarke, and Bill Barber?
To Scott Gordon, coach of the Flyers’ top farm team, the Phantoms: Improved health for his players, many of whom have missed several weeks with injuries. “It’s been a M.A.S.H. unit down there,” assistant Flyers GM Brent Flahr said.
To Zack Hill: A bottle of limoncello to the city’s best public-relations director. By far.
To all our readers: A happy holiday season and a sincere thank you for reading. You are not taken for granted.