Ed Snider made it perfectly clear on Wednesday: The Flyers' goalie carousel will stop. Now.
In an exclusive interview with The Inquirer, Snider, chairman of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor, called the team's recently completed season a "major disappointment," and strongly implied that adding a goalie was high on his priority list
After finishing second in the Eastern Conference and outlasting Buffalo in the opening round of the NHL playoffs, the Flyers were swept by Boston in the conference semifinals.
During the playoffs, the Flyers equaled a dubious NHL record by making seven in-game goalie switches.
"It was strange, and something I never want to see again," said Snider, adding he had a productive meeting Wednesday with general manager Paul Holmgren and Peter Luukko, president of Comcast-Spectacor.
The Flyers had a 3.46 playoff goals-against average, placing them 14th out of 16 teams.
Told that the fan base was lamenting the need for a true No. 1 goalie for a few decades, Snider fired back, "I want one, too."
"So either one of the goalies we have has to step up in training camp, or we have to make improvements to make sure it happens. But we are never going to go through the goalie issues we've gone through in the last couple of years."
That sounds like Snider in the early 1970s, when he vowed to never be pushed around again by the St. Louis Blues or other teams, and he added big, tough players. The Broad Street Bullies were born.
Snider's tone suggested the Flyers are prepared to either deal for a goalie (Los Angeles' Jonathan Bernier? The Islanders' Evgeni Nabokov?) or sign a free-agent such as Ilya Bryzgalov of Phoenix.
Adding a marquee free-agent goalie may be difficult because the Flyers are tight against the cap.
Snider didn't see that as a problem.
"If we trade or go for a goalie [through free agency], we'll make it work," he said. "We can make anything work, even with the cap."
Snider made it a point to praise the development of rookie Sergei Bobrovsky and call him the franchise's "goalie of the future."
"I think he'll be a great goalie. He had an incredible first year, considering where he came from and that he didn't play on a particularly great team in Europe," Snider said. "His future is outstanding; he's still learning the game and how to handle the puck, but he did a lot better job in the second half of the year. He has a lot of talent, and he's only going to get better and pick up the nuances of the North American game."
Added Snider, who on Thursday will tour the Laura Sims Skatehouse to monitor progress on one of the three city-owned rinks that his foundation is helping refurbish: "I truly believe he'll be our goalie of the future. Whether it's next year, I don't know. I don't know when that future takes place."
Bobrovsky will challenge for the No. 1 spot in training camp - no matter which goalie is added to the roster, Snider said.
"You don't guarantee anyone a [starting] job," he said of a new goaltender. "If we get someone, we're sitting in doggy heaven. We won't just hand over the job if we make a move."
In the series against Boston, the Flyers were outscored, 20-7. Snider acknowledged that losing Chris Pronger to a back injury for the last three games played a major role.
"We were beaten by a totally better team," Snider said. "The extremes in the goaltending, from their goalie [Tim Thomas] to ours had an effect on our team. I don't look at it as why this guy only had one goal or this guy played that way. The bottom line is, when you have a goalie playing out of his mind [like Thomas], that confidence spreads to the whole team; the whole team becomes confident. And when your goalie is not playing well . . ."
Coming on the heels of last spring's march to the Stanley Cup Finals "and the fact we were No. 1 in the entire league for a couple months this year, makes the way it ended extremely disappointing," Snider said.
Yet, he believes the Flyers are closer to challenging for the Cup than they were when the 2009-10 season ended.
"With the emergence of [Claude] Giroux and JVR," he said, referring to winger James van Riemsdyk, "and the fact we filled in some pieces, and our defense is a little more solid, I think we're in a better position now if we do the things we have to do."
The puck is in Holmgren's court.
Pronger surgery set. The Flyers announced that Pronger will undergo surgery Thursday in New York. It will be his fourth surgery in less than 10 months. Pronger, 36, is scheduled to undergo a discectomy, a procedure done to remove a herniated disk.
The club also said Mike Richards (left wrist), Blair Betts (left pinky), Andrej Meszaros (right wrist), and Michael Leighton (torn hip labrum) underwent surgery on Wednesday.