One of the recent weekly topics over at HLOG was to write about our team's coach. So, for better or worse, here's my take - as of right now - on Coach John Stevens.
During the season that shall not be named, the Flyers waited eight games for eight straight losses, then revamped the GM and Coach. John Stevens moved from the Phantoms, our AHL team, across the parking lot to the big team.
For many, this seemed to be good move due to his history with the organization as 1.) a player for our AHL teams the Hershey Bears and the Philadelphia Phantoms, coincidentally with the latter as the captain during their 1998 Calder Cup championship win, and 2.) as a coach, when he led the Phantoms to their second Calder Cup in 2005.
Currently, I'm of two minds with regard to Johnny for one simple reason: he's too freakin' steady behind the bench! Why is this a problem?
Well, let me start with why I like Coach Stevens being so steady. Last season was awesome for Flyer fans! (Um, until February when everything when further south than an ice cube in the Sahara.) While much of that success came from the guys wearing the equipment and uniforms, another part was due to Stevens' consistency and support. Line shuffling, injuries, and - yes - suspensions happened, but Johnny stayed on-message. He reaffirmed the skills that needed to be developed and the areas that were strong.
But, darn it, he needed to call a few guys out for suckitude! In my view, that only happened once last season. And this is becoming more of my attitude for whatever is going down with the team this year...going down being the operative part of the description.
Honestly, getting the puck in the goal isn't our biggest issue at this point, if the scores from all those seven loses at the start of the season are anything to go by. (And, yes, they are!)
No, our issue is far more ironic than that: defense. Ironic for two simple reasons.
1.) It was our sticking point last season and it's playing out that way yet again.
Right as we headed into the regular season this year, we lost two players who I think could be key to our defense being successful during the 08-09 campaign: Ryan Parent and Randy Jones. And it's not like we lost them for a short time, a la Tiny!Briere. Nope, Parent is out 12-14 weeks and Jones was scheduled for 6-8 weeks.
Also, our defense not playing up to par in terms of positioning, speed, and sheer gutsy-ness means that our goalies are working harder and not as smartly.
2.) John Stevens was a defenseman.