Sorry for the delay in bringing you the traditional play by play of the Flyers STH Town Hall. On August 12 Flyers brass met with season ticket holders in a first summer edition of the usually annual Town Hall meeting. As it turns out, the summer is a much better time to have one of these meetings. Unlike the March date that has been the habit, this summer date means the President and GM can actually talk about available players, signings, and trades. It is much more satisfying to hear about what has happened than to have the clueless ask questions that are unanswerable by those bound by anti-tampering rules. I hope the Flyers will continue to hold these meetings in the summer in future.
The first station for my cohort was with President Peter Luukko and COO Shawn Tilger. I’m never really sure why Shawn is there, because no one asks him questions and Peter is the star of the show, but it’s the way they’ve done it all along.
First on the agenda was discussion of the 2014 NHL Draft, being held in Philadelphia next June 27-28. The event will be free, but ticketed. Season ticket holders will have preferential treatment in getting tickets, but plans are not yet complete. There will be a number of satellite events around the draft for fans.
Luukko said the team is considering in future years having big draft day parties like those held by a number of other teams.
Asked about the multiple outdoor NHL games in the 2013-14 season and whether it will dilute the product, Luukko said that there will be a more regional flavor to a number of the games between teams that may not be a big national draw and that’s not a bad thing. LA is planning an alumni game like the one held at the Philadelphia Winter Classic.
For future years, Philadelphia, because of the broad fan base both in the U.S. and Canada and a more national profile is likely to be in the mix more often that most teams.
I wouldn’t think Luukko is the guy to ask about player personnel, but it happens ever year. So he was asked about Mark Streit, whom he described as a hammer from the point. He was drawn to the Flyers partially because it is his father’s favorite team. (Who knew the Flyers were big in Switzerland.)
On the free agent front generally, with all things being equalized monetarily, the key to players choosing the Flyers is the family atmosphere of the organization, the way players and their families are treated, and the passion of the fanbase. Vinny Lecavalier was drawn by the players being part of a community (which is, reading between the lines, not true in Tampa Bay).
Asked about the Olympic break, Luukko mentioned the Phantoms will be in Philadelphia for two games, February 1 and 22.
Another hockey event at the Wells Fargo Center next year is the NCAA Frozen Four. Tickets will be made available to Flyers season ticket holders September 23.
My question was about expansion. Is the league really considering it and is it really a good idea. Luukko says Holmgren believes there is enough talent out there, especially with smaller faster players finding more success in the league the way it is officiated, for expansion. And that the salary cap has led to relative parity in the league.
This was followed, not surprisingly, by a question on the Devils being rumored (at the time) to be on the verge of being purchased by an ownership group led by key members of the 76ers ownership. Luukko says the ownership group has deep pockets, which is good for the league. Stable ownership is the most important thing to the league and this looks like a stable group with the wherewithal and ability to be successful managing the business. So the Flyers have no issue with it.
On realignment, Luukko feels the divisions make some sense but the names aren’t great. He’d have preferred names of hockey greats.
Will the Flyers ever open in Europe? Yes the Flyers will get their chance and the organization is looking forward to it.
Is the KHL a threat to the NHL? No. Global Spectrum does some management there and sees it first hand. The economics do not “pencil out.” They lose millions of dollars. The level of play is not that great. And most players still see playing in North America as the thing to strive for.
Someone asked about NBC games in the first half of the season and Luukko believes that may happen. This led to a discussion of game times. The many weekend day game times are a function of the NBC contract. The Flyers are a desirable commodity for national games, so they are scheduled for those times. Some people whined about it and Luukko said they are the games with the lowest numbers of no-shows because families with kids come. The Flyers see them as a great opportunity to establish a foothold with the next generation of fans.
Luukko sees the salary cap continuing to grow. Sponsorships are growing. The Canadian TV deal is up for renegotiation at the end of the coming season.
Due to renovations at the Skate Zone training camp will begin at the Wells Fargo Center on Sept 12-14, open to the public and free. Meet the Flyers taping at Xfinity live on Sept 14, with special access for season ticket holders.
STH’s will have special access to PSU VS VT tickets.
There is a Flyers phone/tablet app rolling out in September.
Finally, there will be a Fred Shero Night this season, timing to be determined.
Next: Part II, Paul Holmgren