The Philadelphia Flyers will not win the Stanley Cup next season.

Chuck Fletcher should have started there. When he entered a conference room Tuesday morning at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees for his season-capping meeting with the media, he should have sat down at the table and, before taking a single question, made the assertion that he and the other power people in the organization already know to be true. The Flyers have been around for 55 years, and they just completed one of the worst seasons in their history during what has been the worst era in their history: a decade of white-bread hockey — never outstanding or memorable or all that exciting — that saw them miss the playoffs six times and win just one postseason series.

The best that they can hope for next season is to improve, but only so much, on the campaign they just finished: 25 victories in 82 games, 61 points, dead last in the Metropolitan Division. They don’t have the combination of talent, depth, and experience on their roster or in their farm system to expect more than that marginal advance, and no one should expect more than that from them.

So: Say that.

The Philadelphia Flyers will not win the Stanley Cup next season.

Fletcher, the team’s general manager, almost said it. He tiptoed to the edge. Twice, he was asked about how the Flyers would approach this offseason. First things first: They have to hire a new head coach, having told interim Mike Yeo on Monday that he would not be returning in the same role. But the question was a broader one, about the front office’s view on where the Flyers stand and its philosophy/plan to make the team better.

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In January, team chairman Dave Scott and Fletcher had suggested that the Flyers weren’t rebuilding, not really, and that they didn’t need three to five years to fix themselves. Two, three pieces, Scott said. That was all they needed. Now that the season was (mercifully) over, did Scott and Fletcher and the other members of the player-personnel department still feel that way? Were they viewing the summer as a chance to win now or to grow over the long term?

Twice, Fletcher said, “A little bit of both.” It was a hedge. He was watching his words, not wanting to suggest that the Flyers would scrap everything, trade or release everyone, and start from nothing. Carter Hart, Joel Farabee, Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny: There are players here who still can be part of a brighter Flyers future.

“Certainly, part of it is we need to get younger,” he said. “We have to get more talented. We have to get faster. We have to aggressively look at trades, free agency. Can we add a couple players to supplement what we have here and make this team better?”

But that core and those additions won’t be enough for the Flyers to contend for a championship — certainly not next season, and it’s unlikely for at least a couple of years thereafter. In the best-case scenario, they’re counting on Sean Couturier returning to full form after playing just 29 games last season and undergoing back surgery in February, and they’re hoping Ryan Ellis will be past his mysterious pelvic injury in time to report to training camp. They’re counting on Couturier and Ellis in part because, when healthy, those two are terrific, and in part because they don’t have a choice: They signed Couturier to an eight-year, $62-million contract last August, and Ellis has five years left on his contract at an average annual value of $6.25 million. Except Couturier turns 30 in December, and Ellis already is 31, and counting on the best-case scenario for players at that age recovering from those sorts of injuries can turn out to be irresponsible.

“The good thing is we will have a lot more depth in terms of young assets,” Fletcher said.

Perhaps, but the notion that the Flyers have made up for nearly two decades of poor drafting and player development in a year or two strains credibility.

So acknowledge reality.

The Philadelphia Flyers will not win the Stanley Cup next season.

It seems an obvious, elementary thing, a basic statement beyond dispute. In such matters, though, there are always complications.

During the NHL’s pre-salary cap era, Ed Snider was willing to pay any price or make any change he and his brain trust thought necessary to try to win the Flyers a championship. But it’s no coincidence that, over the 17 seasons since the league instituted a cap in 2005, the Flyers have won one regular season division title and finished better than third just two other occasions. They have failed to adapt their methods to the limitations and challenges that the cap presents, yet they’re still loath to admit as much to their fan base, a sizable portion of which has been conditioned to expect an all-in approach every year. Who do you think we are? Sam Hinkie and those tanking 76ers? And the Flyers surely are hesitant to admit their situation now, considering that they haven’t hosted a playoff game at the Wells Fargo Center in four years and their per-game attendance plummeted this season to 16,541, its lowest figure since 1973.

“Of course, the revenue is a concern,” Fletcher said, “but the bigger concern is getting the club to be more competitive. Revenues will follow as we get better.”

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Yes, winning is enticing. But, in the meantime, the Flyers should consider a key component of The Process’ appeal: It wasn’t just that Hinkie was taking the most direct, most logical approach to acquiring great talent — i.e. put yourself in the best possible position to draft it. It was that he was honest about where the Sixers stood — stuck in the mud of NBA mediocrity — and transparent about his strategy to pull them out. Having Scott or Fletcher utter one sentence expressing a similar sentiment would signal that the Flyers had put aside their pie-in-the-sky hopes and understood the time and work required for the task ahead of them.

So say it. It’s OK.

The Flyers will not win the Stanley Cup next season.

It would be a small gesture, a symbolic one mostly, but it would be a vital first step for a franchise with a long way to go.