So, remember when we examined the Philadelphia Flyers’ foibles on Monday but also noted that it was too early for condemnation? Well … Flyers management decided not to take such a calm approach.
Of course they didn’t. The Flyers’ team-building strategy isn’t so much a blueprint as it is an Etch-a-Sketch.
In case you didn’t hear the news, Philly’s higher-ups reversed course once again on Monday, making head coach Peter Laviolette the victim of someone else’s mistakes.* To borrow an analogy from Bill Parcells, the Flyers fired the cook (Laviolette) when the person buying the groceries (GM Paul Holmgren) kept showing up with rotten meat and spoiled milk.
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The main focus of Monday’s column was not to overreact, but instead to coldly assess situations and - ideally - gain a boost here and there by taking advantage of hotheaded rivals.
The way Laviolette’s firing fits into a larger narrative of Flyer 180’s brings up another important lesson for fantasy owners (outside of keeper leagues**):
Don’t blow up your foundation. Instead, focus on smaller tweaks.
Many people will point to the Flyers’ decision to acquire Ilya Bryzgalov as the moment everything went south. I’d say they’re half-correct; the Flyers went downhill because they discarded core players Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to make room for Breezy, changing their identity out of desperation.
PUNTING ON SECOND DOWN
Look, I think that some of the pieces they’ve acquired in their many knee-jerk moves have actually worked out nicely; Jakub Voracek showed why he was a first-round pick by making beautiful music with Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds is becoming a highly useful power forward and so on.
Still, fantasy owners should take note that it’s usually not the greatest idea to part ways with an asset you valued highly not so long ago. Sure, it might work out every now and then, but you can only use that emergency ejection seat so many times before you crash and burn.
GET(ting rid of) CARTER
The ink was barely dry on Carter’s cap-friendly contract by the time Holmgren suddenly changed his mind and traded the slick sniper in the brief window before his no-trade clause kicked in.
Say what you will about Carter, there are few who can score goals like he does. From the 2007-08 season to 2012-2013, only four active players scored more than Jeff Carter's 191: Alex Ovechkin, Steve Stamkos, Jarome Iginla and Rick Nash.
In Richards’ case, it seemed like at least some of the concern came from stripping him of the captaincy, but we’ve seen players like Mike Modano and Patrick Marleau get over it and help their teams. Philly management apparently decided he wasn’t worth the extra effort, though.
Personally, I think the Flyers should have stuck with Carter and Richards … and not just because Bryzgalov flopped. Either way, the message is more important than the details: smart teams rarely make enormous changes every 6-12 months.
And, again, such thoughts can apply to fantasy, too.
By blowing everything up just weeks in, you’re selling your assets short.
Leagues can vary in size and rules, so it’s silly to attempt a “don’t drop anyone selected before Round x” rule. Instead, a good rule of thumb is: if you used an early pick on a player, you should probably give him a long leash. Conversely, if someone sours on his or her own high pick, do your best to take that “problem” off their hands.
THE PUJOLS PRICE
Strangely, the most amusing example that comes to mind is in fantasy baseball, and it involved someone else’s team.
One mostly blurry night at an awesome patio bar in 2012 - I’d guess in May - I overheard my friend discussing a possible trade in which he would grab Albert Pujols, who began his first season with the Los Angeles Angels in a massive slump. I strongly encouraged him to make the deal - I don’t remember the pieces involved, but they were depth guys by comparison - and he pulled it off.
Here's a quick look at Pujols’ split stats, noting that the fantasy trade happened in either April or May:
March/April - 0 home runs, four RBIs, .217 batting average, .265 on-base percentage
May - 8 HR, 24 RBI, .264 BA, .491 OBP
June - 4 HR, 19 RBI, .326 BA, .568 OBP
July - 8 HR, 20 RBI, .330 BA, .411 OBP
August - 9 HR, 24 RBI, .312 BA, .350 OBP
Sept./Oct. - 1 HR, 14 RBI, .269 BA, .315 OBP
Even if you’re not a big baseball fan, it should be clear that Pujols bounced back in a massive way.
It was a real bonehead trade, with my friend’s “victim” overreacting to Pujols’ early struggles. Worse yet, he gave up on a guy who was a huge investment; my guess is Pujols wasn’t drafted any later than the third round in that league.
Now, don’t get me wrong; you won’t get the chance to dupe someone this dramatically very often. Still, it does happen, especially with people who are a little newer to fantasy and/or might have booze in their system … and you should be there to capitalize.
Then again, maybe the real message is: friends don’t let friends trade drunk.
After the jump: Game notes from a light Monday and other bits.
* - Not that Laviolette was perfect, but GMs all-too-often get off the hook while head coaches get the axe.
** - Keeper leagues are a beast of their own, as it might actually make sense to make big changes sometimes, especially if you inherit a bad group from someone else.