I've been trying to figure out an angle to write about regarding the Philadelphia Flyers recently. All the other blogs have their pre-season predictions, training camp reports, and the "pumped up for the hockey season" blog. Trust me, I could write 15 pages, single-spaced, on how excited I am for hockey to be back - this is the stuff I live for.
But when trying to find an angle, I was going through the Flyers official roster and noticed something interesting.
The entire roster is from only 3 different countries. Canada, Finland, and the United States.
Now this roster may not be the final one set by the time the season starts, but only 1 or 2 changes are likely, and I don't think those changes would increase the amount of countries on the big-league roster.
I'm not going to go through the other 29 team's rosters, but I can almost guarantee that the Flyers have the least amount of countries represented on their opening-day roster. In 2008-2009, with all the countries represented in the NHL, it seems odd to me that a team would only have 3 represented.
In reality - the opening day roster only has 2 countries represented. Derian Hatcher, the lone American on the roster is starting the season on LTIR (long term injured reserve) and might not even return at all this year.
Is this good or bad? It's really hard to say - but I'd argue that it works in favor of the Fly boys.
Look at it this way - countries often develop different styles of play, especially those in Europe who play in a larger rink. If you have 2 countries represented on your team, the style of play will mesh with almost everyone out on the ice with you during your shift. The Flyers entire offense is Canadian. That goes back to the days of the 70's and 80's when the onslaught of talent in the league was primarily Canadian. I honestly believe that Paul Holmgren has developed this team on purpose and it is no coincidence that the styles of play he is trying to mesh together are coming from the same countries.
On the back-end, the Flyers will most likely have 4 Canadians and 2 Fins - or 3 of each. 18-year-old Luca Sbisa has been impressive thus-far but is unlikely to crack the lineup with the amount of defensemen the Flyers and Phantoms are carrying. He will likely be sent back to Juniors, and not add Italy to the short list of countries on Broad Street.
2 countries or 10, this team seems to lack holes. It is extremely solid all the way through and will look to build on their success last year. They will do so with Mike Richards wearing the "C" this year, who will be the leader of this Flyers team for years to come.
The "C" stands for Captain by the way, not Canadian.