Yep, I'm totally going to commit Flyers blasphemy and sacrilege here. I'll discuss the weekly topic below, but first...
My pick for Philadelphia franchise player to discuss ad naseum is the guy who suckered me into watching the game: Ron Hextall. (Just say "No" to Bobby Clarke!)
Surely, by now, you've figured out that I like to provoke people just a little with tons of hyperbole!
I have to say that the outlook for franchise players is a bit of a mixed bag and completely dependent on your guy. Below are some characteristics I think of for three types of franchise player today - as in post-lockout. Not every one of them may apply, though most should.
Scenario 1: (New) Traditional franchise player
- Mega-year and -pay contract
- Lucky enough not to be severely injured during career
- Stays productive
- Team leadership/ownership doesn't change and/or decide he's worth trading
- Likes the organization and community
Scenario 2: Long-service franchise player
- Embodies several scenario 1 characteristics
- May be traded to your team early in his career
- May be traded away from your team late in his career
- Either way, spends most productive years on your team
- Again, likes the organization and community
Scenario 3: Just-wins-you-over franchise player
- Displays many scenario 1 characteristics, too
- May not spend many years with your team, but makes important contributions while there
- Endears himself to fans through some amazing feat
- Also likes organization and community
I don't think that the franchise player is a dying breed. I just believe that it's an evolving concept. I mean, if you have a hard-working, talented player who is a good leader and contributes to the team performance no matter where he is, dude could be a franchise player for multiple teams in his career.
Now, on with the blasphemy and sacrilege.
I pick Ron Hextall as an examplary Flyer because he's so Philadelphia. Hexie was ours. Even when he played for the Nords and the Isles, we still loved him. Have you seen the video from his return to the Flyers in 1994?
It didn't hurt that you never knew what would happen while Hextall was on ice. The only things that were a given was he'd hack your ankles if you were too close to the crease and he was just as likely to fight you as the defesemen in front of him...when they weren't fellowshiping in the sin bin themselves.
Clarke lost my vote for visiting upon us the worst season ever, including the locked out one.