How Safe is Paul Holmgren’s Job?

Paul Holmgren is not the most beloved person in the city of Philadelphia right now. This kind of thing tends to happen after a team underperforms for one reason or another. That’s exactly what happened with the 2012-2013 Flyers. So how safe is Paul Holmgren’s job? I say moderately safe.

Now I shall explain.

First, we should look at the trades and signings that have occured during Homer’s tenure in Philly, which started on October 22, 2006.

Notable free agent signings:

Kimmo Timonen (traded for rights) on 6/18/2007 – 6 years, $38 million

Scott Hartnell (traded for rights) on 6/18/2007 – 6 years, $25.2 million

Danny Briere on 7/1/2007 – 8 years, $52 million

Ray Emery (traded for rights) on 6/10/2009 – 1 year, $1.5 million

Ian Laperriere on 7/1/2009 – 3 years, $3.5 million

Jody Shelley on 7/1/2010 – 3 years, $3.3 million

Ilya Bryzgalov (traded for rights) on 6/23/2011 – 9 years, $51 million

Jaromir Jagr on 7/1/2011 – 1 year, $3.3 million

Andreas Lilja on 7/1/2011 – 2 years, $1.475 million

Max Talbot on 7/1/2011 – 5 years, $8.75 million

Shea Weber (signed to offer sheet; matched by Nashville) on 7/19/2012 – 14 years, $110 million

Mark Streit (traded for rights) on 6/28/2013 – 4 years, $21 million

Vincent Lecavalier on 7/2/2013 – 5 years, $22.5 million

Ray Emery on 7/5/2013 – 1 year, $1.65 million

Notable trades:

2/24/2007: Flyers trade Alexei Zhitnik to Atlanta for Braydon Coburn

6/18/2007: Flyers trade Nashville’s 2007 1st round pick (previously acquired) to Nashville for the rights to Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell

7/1/2007: Flyers trade Joni Pitkanen, Geoff Sanderson and a 2009 3rd round pick to Edmonton for Jason Smith and Joffrey Lupul

6/20/2008: Flyers trade R.J. Umberger and a 2008 4th round pick to Columbus for Colorado’s 2008 1st round pick (previously acquired; Luca Sbisa) and a 2008 3rd round pick (Marc-Andre Bourdon)

6/20/2008: Flyers trade a 2008 1st round pick to Washington for Steve Eminger and a 2008 3rd round pick (Jacob Deserres)

11/7/2008: Flyers trade Steve Eminger, Steve Downie and Tampa Bay’s 2009 4th round pick (previously acquired) to Tampa Bay for Matt Carle and San Jose’s 2009 3rd round pick (previously acquired; Simon Bertilsson)

3/4/2009: Flyers trade Scottie Upshall and a 2011 2nd round pick to Phoenix for Dan Carcillo

6/26/2009: Flyers trade Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, a 2009 1st round pick, a 2010 1st round pick and a 2010 or 2011 conditional 3rd round pick to Anaheim for Chris Pronger and Ryan Dingle

2/6/2010: Flyers trade Ole-Kristian Tollefssen and a 2011 5th round pick to Detroit for Ville Leino

7/19/2010: Flyers trade Simon Gagne to Tampa Bay for Matt Walker and a 2011 4th round pick (Marcel Noebels)

2/14/2011: Flyers trade a 2011 1st round pick and a 2011 3rd round pick to Toronto for Kris Versteeg

6/23/2011: Flyers trade Jeff Carter to Columbus for Jakub Voracek, a 2011 1st round pick (Sean Couturier) and a 2011 3rd round pick (Nick Cousins)

6/23/2011: Flyers trade Mike Richards and Rob Bordson to Los Angeles for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and a 2012 2nd round pick

2/16/2012: Flyers trade LA’s 2012 2nd round pick (previously acquired) and Minnesota’s 2012 3rd round pick (previously acquired) to Dallas for Nicklas Grossmann

6/22/2012: Flyers trade Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus for a 2012 2nd round pick (Anthony Stolarz), a 2012 4th round pick (Taylor Leier) and a 2013 4th round pick

6/23/2012: Flyers trade James van Riemsdyk to Toronto for Luke Schenn

4/3/2013: Flyers trade Michael Leighton and a 2015 3rd round pick to Columbus for Steve Mason

Holmgren talkin to Chris Pronger at the 2013 NHL Draft (photo courtest of Amanda Kurtz)

Holmgren talkin to Chris Pronger at the 2013 NHL Draft (photo courtest of Amanda Kurtz)

Some good signings and trades in this mix, some bad. The fact of the matter is that all GMs have ups and downs in regards to this kind of stuff so take it for what it is. I just wanted to give a bit of background before we delve into the actual question we came here to answer (by answer I mean take an educated guess. I’m not going to sit here and act like I can read minds).

I’m not sure where to go from here so let’s just grab one of these transactions and get our hands dirty in some good old fashioned context. Alright, let’s take the Ilya Bryzgalov signing (yup, I’m going there). We know the story with this guy all too well: signs the big deal, pretty much sucks until the end of his first season, says some weird stuff, starts the shortened season well but then sucks again, says some more weird stuff, gets bought out and is still saying weird stuff.

Bottom line: you don’t make a 9 year, $51 million mistake and live to tell the tale. This leads me to believe a) Snider had A LOT to do with this signing and has more control over his GM than most owners and b) Holmgren has a lot of leeway.

Let’s grab another. Take our pal Shea Weber. He signs an offer sheet here (“star players don’t want to come to Philly” LOL) which is later matched by the Preds. We all cried but many expert analysts believed that the contract the Flyers signed Weber to was unmatchable, including TSN’s Darren Dreger.

That same offseason, it was reported that the Flyers had offered more money to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter than any other team. Holmgren was trying to improve the team but unfortunately struck out, which also included Matt Carle signing a fairly sizeable contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

I do believe that Holmgren did the best he could (sometimes you strike out when you swing for the fences) but the team’s problems this year had more to do with the coach than Holmgren. Peter Laviolette continued to try and implement his up-tempo system without many (only one) puck movers on defense. This system was very successful when Pronger, Carle and a younger/healthier Timonen were running it but when you try to force Braydon Coburn to be an offensive player, you’re going to get burnt. Not getting a puck mover was on Holmgren but not adjusting was on Laviolette. Injuries also played a role in the team’s struggles as Hartnell, Read, Coburn, Grossmann, etc. missed a good chunk of time.

Holmgren with Flyers 1st round draft pick Sam Morin at the 2013 NHL Draft (photo courtesy of Amanda Kurtz)

Holmgren with Flyers 1st round draft pick Sam Morin at the 2013 NHL Draft (photo courtesy of Amanda Kurtz)

Now we’re at the present. The Flyers have signed former Vincent Lecavalier, Mark Streit and Ray Emery as well as extended team captain and grilled cheese aficionado, Claude Giroux, for 8 years. The team has a solid roster heading into this season in large part due to the work of Paul Holmgren. Ron Hextall was brought in as assistant GM and lot of people are speculating that he’ll be the GM sooner rather than later but I think it may very well be later. This is year 3 of the psuedo-rebuild that occured in the 2011 offseason with the trading of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter so it’s only fair to give Homer a little more time. Snider seems like he understands this and will let Mr. Holmgren hold the reigns a for awhile longer.

For now, Homer’s job is safe. We’ll see how this season plays out. If it ends in disappointment, he may very well be canned but if it doesn’t, he isn’t going anywhere.


Shoutout to @orangeandsass for the photos.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: Editorial, Flyers

Author:Nick Hlywiak

Junior at Drexel University studying business with a concentration in legal studies. Lifelong Philadelphia Sports fan and passionate about hockey and baseball in general. I get existential sometimes.

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