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2010 Philadelphia Flyers: The Improbable Turning Probable

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Just a few short Springtimes ago, the Philadelphia Flyers rallied around the moniker, “Why Not Us?” in their march to the Eastern Conference Finals. As I sit back aghast and reflect on this past month’s ride of a f***king lifetime a few short days before the Stanley Cup Finals begin, I realize that as Flyers’ fans, this is our “Why Not Us,” an improbable, literally historic, joyride to a place Springsteen liked to refer to as "The Promised Land."

Mike Richards, whose leadership was once questioned, has taken the Flyers to the brink of a championship. Photo: http://i.usatoday.net/sports/_photos/2010/05/24/flyers-trophyx-topper-medium.jpg

Carnage was left, record books rewritten, and civic pride brought back to a city suffering from downtrodden times. Say your prayers and eat your vitamins, Flyermania is taking the city like a Category 5, the only thing bigger than the Hulkster’s Biceps are the unreal minutes that Chris Pronger is currently logging as he turns into a legend right before our very eyes. Danny Briere’s words now seem so prophetic: “We’re built for the playoffs.” You think?

For a couple minutes there, I thought that my decade of decadence in my 20s, ripe with experimentation of every kind, made me delusional. Maybe the mushrooms were that strong. Wasn’t it just a few short months ago that this team was written off, mired in a soap opera full of rumors, innuendo, and lack luster play. It was Philadelphia 90210, the team more likely to show up in Star Magazine than the Hockey News, a publication that now looks brilliant in picking the Flyers as the Cup Winner in their Season Preview Issue. Mike Richards' leadership was questioned as were his off-ice exploits, he was the supposed ringleader of a posse of young players that seemed to enjoy the drinks at Sorority Mixers more than the taste of victory. Simon Gagne was injury prone. Jeff Carter had regressed. Briere a bust. Paul Holmgren had no clue. Scott Hartnell needed a haircut. Too much of the future was given up in the Pronger deal. And so on and so on.

Grab that remote and hit the fast forward button. Richards is an unquestioned leader, all those comparisons to Clarkie are legit. The kid has won everywhere; in Kitchener, in the World Juniors, on the Phantoms, on the Olympic stage, and now on the Flyers. His effort in the clincher against Les Frauds will go down in Philadelphia Sports’ lore, his shortie against Halak this generation’s Clarke against the Bruins OT goal in the Garden. Gagne has been heroic, do you realize how close he was to not playing Game 7 in Beantown? Briere has defined clutch. Holmgren looks like Einstein. Hartnell has gone from Side Show Bob to a folk hero quicker than you can say Orange Crush. Look up the word beast in the dictionary and you’ll find Pronger, his trade will go down as the best ever in the history of the Flyers with apologies to John LeCair, Rico, and Gilbert Dionne.

And that’s just it, it seemed so far-fetched, so absurd, so unreal, and so whatever just a mere two months ago. I remember apathetically watching the shoot-out against the Rangers on the last day of the season with a playoff berth on the line and saying to myself that it didn’t really matter if they got in or not because they were more than likely going to lose in the first round anyway. And then it happened: The Save. Boucher stonewalling Jokinen is the reverse Chico Ruiz. That save started history. I always knew there was no such thing as the Jersey Devil. Prozac sales sky-rocketed in Boston. And Les Habitants watched one who came from their own backyard in Claude Giroux bury an entire nation’s dream. Ouch, that must have hurt.

And now it’s time to bring the Chi-Town Heat. 1961, yeah, it’s worse than us.  Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks keeps having this recurring nightmare that won’t stop and he’s scared. Replace the Elm Street with Broad Street, he goes to hop in that cab he was alleged to have robbed, he goes to punch the cab driver in the face again, but this time LAPPY is driving the cab….BEEP BEEP!!!

Flyers in 6. You know it.

Todd Flynn is a life long Flyers fan and a contributer to Brian Startare's "Flyer'd UP!"  Todd can be contacted at: tparkerflynn@hotmail.com