The New York Rangers were eliminated on Saturday and it wasn’t the joyous occasion it should have been.
That would normally be music to Flyers fans’ ears as the hated Broadway Blueshirts were sent packing by the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. But watching six games of the Eastern Conference Finals transpire, it wasn’t hate for the Rangers that was felt.
It was jealousy. Envy. And maybe even a little admiration for our rivals 90 miles north.
The Rangers are enjoying the fruits of their decisions, after acknowledging that their team was flawed just four years ago, and taking the correct path to get back on track instead of continuously forcing the round peg through the square hole.
Sure, you can argue that any rebuild was jump started by free agents Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox wanting to play for the Rangers and no one else. But that’s just the point. The Rangers are a desirable location. It’s something the Flyers used to be.
Over the last 10 years, we’ve watched the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins (twice) lift the Stanley Cup. We witnessed the Rangers and New Jersey Devils make a Stanley Cup Final appearance. We saw the New York Islanders go to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals.
We also had front-row seats to watch the Flyers spin their wheels and miss the playoffs more times than they’ve made them over the last decade.
This spring, Madison Square Garden was absolutely rocking as the home team won eight of its 10 postseason games there during this run. The chants, the celebrations, the celebrities in attendance. It was a hockey hotspot.
In comparison, the Wells Fargo this year had the vibe of a half-empty shopping mall food court.
Keeping in mind the 2020 playoffs were played in a bubble in Canada, the last time the Flyers won a playoff game at the Wells Fargo Center was in 2016, when the Capitals held a 3-0 series lead and the Flyers won a 2-1 game behind 31 saves from Michal Neuvirth to stave off elimination for a few more days. That was six years ago. Andrew MacDonald scored the winning goal. That’s what we’re clinging on to as a fan base.
For that reason, it’s hard to hate the Rangers or the Penguins or the Capitals or any other historic rival. The Flyers just aren’t on the same level when it comes to the last decade of hockey and it takes two to tango for a rivalry to heat up. The Flyers have, at best, been a speed bump to Metropolitan teams’ eventual success.
Maybe things will change quickly. But following a year where their franchise player left for greener pastures, and many other up-and-comers took a step backward, it’s probably not likely the Flyers will be a relevant date on the Rangers’ schedule any time soon.
That’s why we were able to watch the Rangers succeed and not get bent out of shape about it.
Snider Hockey honored
Snider Hockey was one of 10 organizations that were selected as 2022 winners of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award. It was honored with a $30,000 cash prize on June 8.
Snider Hockey is a nationally acclaimed nonprofit that uses the sport of hockey to educate and empower under-resourced youth of Philadelphia to prosper in the game of life.
“Snider Hockey is thrilled and honored to be chosen for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award in recognition of our mission of building lives and uniting communities,” said Scott Tharp, president/CEO of Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. “We have long recognized the impact that sports – particularly ice hockey – can have on a young person’s life, and we thank the RWJF for their shared commitment of removing barriers to health equity for under-resourced youth.”