Ed Snider made it perfectly clear: The Flyers’ goalie carousel will stop. Now.
In an exclusive interview with The Inquirer on Wednesday, 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 atop his priority list
After finishing second in the Eastern Conference and outlasting Buffalo in the opening round of the playoffs, the Flyers were swept by the Boston in the conference semifinals.
During the playoffs, the Flyers equaled a dubious NHL record by making seven in-game goalie switches.
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“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, the Comcast-Spectacor president.
The Flyers had a 3.46 playoff goals-against average, placing them 14th out of 16 teams.
Told that the fan base was lamenting about needing 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 again.”
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 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.
Signing a marquee free-agent goalie will be difficult because the Flyers have little cap space.
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 say that rookie Sergei Bobrovsky was viewed as the Fyers' "goalie of the future."
In the series against Boston, the Flyers were outscored, 20-7. Snider acknowledged that losing Chris Pronger (back injury) for the last three games played a major role.
"We were beaten by a totally better team," he 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...."
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The Flyers announced that Chris Pronger will undergo surgery Thursday in New York. It will be his fourth surgery in less than 10 months.
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.
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On Thursday, Snider will tour the Laura Sims Skatehouse to monitor progress on one of three city-owned rinks that his foundation is helping to renovate.
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Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull.
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