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Now and Later: What About Bob

I’ve discussed whether or not Bob can be sent to the Phantoms so many times with so many people that I think my Twitter prints are all over any discussion of the issue by now.  I just went over it again with Marc Siciliano, the new Flyers blogger for Kukla’s Korner and Mark Trible of the Checking Line.  My reading of the CBA 13.2 is that any player can start the season in the AHL or the NHL, and waivers are only an issue from 12 days before the season starts to the end of a team’s season:

13.2 The “Playing Season Waiver Period” shall begin on the twelfth (12th) day prior to the start of the Regular Season  and end on the day following the last day of a Club’s Playing Season…” -2005 CBA

If the Flyers really truly wanted to make as much of Bobrovsky as he can be, they could and should send him to the AHL and leave him there, come hell or high water, all season.

I agree, in the case of the Flyers’ management, the point is moot.  They seem incapable of really looking past this season.  They appear to be comfortable (please, Paul, prove me wrong, there’s still time) letting Bob’s progress stagnate just so they can use their second-best starter as backup this season.  I feel that is utterly irresponsible and short-sighted.

Holmgren and Snider have been getting some credit for the bold decision to trade Richards and Carter for players who have bright futures, even if those futures are some ways off.

Voracek is the most seasoned of the young bunch, but he isn’t likely to replace either Carter or Richards on the score sheet.

Schenn, who I remember hearing Kings fans call for during the playoffs, wasn’t available for the playoffs because he was still in juniors.  He may indeed have a future so bright we’ll have to wear shades, but that future isn’t here yet.

Simmonds will do what he’s done, which is laudable but he’s not a scoring leader.

Jagr will be a lot of fun to have on the team, but again, he won’t replace Richards or Carter point for point.

Bryzgalov will make a bunch of saves Bob and Boosh didn’t last year but I doubt he’ll make 66 points worth more.

If, in fact, the Flyers have some plan for the future, that future is not now and so why in the world would they mortgage Bob’s future just in case they need him?  How in the world can it matter if you end up with Leighton or Backlund as your starter some time this season, or for that matter the whole season?  The Flyers probably will NOT end up with any other starter than Bryzgalov for the majority of games, and if Bob were somewhere else, like in the AHL, instead of sitting on the bench, they could have something really special to use as part of a tandem or trade by next summer.

But I don’t believe they will do this.  Maybe practicing with Jeff Reese will be enough for Bob.  Maybe playing 20 or fewer games (assuming Bryz doesn’t play many more games than Bob did last season… hello crazy thinking) will be enough for Bob to be really awesome by next season or the end of this one.  Maybe, but why the hell risk it?

The short term risk of sending Bob down is that a radically altered team that will take a while to get going won’t have the best backup possible (if you ignore the fact that Bob isn’t really better as a backup than Leighton is, but try selling that to Flyers fans) this season.

The long term risk is that next season you still only have one goalie your team really trusts in a starting role.  That doesn’t sound crazy when you are paying Bryzgalov so much for so long, but it is nonetheless a completely outdated concept.  See Rask (2 seasons mostly AHL)/Thomas, Schneider (3 seasons mostly AHL)/Luongo, Biron (2 seasons mostly AHL)/ Lundqvist.  That is the future: two well above-average goalies sharing ice time, not “ride your fastest horse till he drops and hope you make it to the end before he does.”  How do those well-above average goalies get to be so awesome?  They PLAY, a LOT, not maybe 20 games a season.

I look forward to seeing Jagr play, and I will always root for the Flyers, but I have very low expectations for this season since management seems to have decided now is the time for a team re-working.  I do not believe that they should leave their goalie program out of the re-work.  Having Bob as backup isn’t going to change anything this season barring a miracle.  And you don’t bet on or plan for miracles.  That’s not how they work.

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