Several Flyers myths are floating about the blogosphere. Frankly, I’m tired of seeing them, and I plan to squelch them once and for all.
Myth #1: Danny Briere is the $10 million man who helped drive up UFA prices.
Briere earned $10 million in the first year of his contract, and various people cite his contract as one that contributed to skyrocketing salaries. That neglects the fact that Briere’s deal was heavily front-loaded. His cap hit, which averages the total salary over the total years, comes to only $6.5 million. For comparison Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, and Thomas Vanek all have a cap hit over $7 million per year. Fellow 2007 UFA Ryan Smyth makes $6.25 million in Colorado. So Briere’s contract is right in line with his classmates.
Myth #2: RJ Umberger as a productive center in the playoffs.
All right, so it isn’t exactly a myth – Umberger is a natural centerman who will likely play with Rick Nash in Columbus. But Umberger never played center regularly in a Flyers uniform. Center is the most difficult forward role in the NHL, usually requiring a strong balance of playmaking skill, defensive responsibility, and faceoff winning capacity. Whether Umberger shift from NHL winger to center successfully remains to be seen.
Myth #3: Mike Rathje handcuffs the Flyers’ payroll.
I don’t understand the obsession with Mike Rathje. Fans everywhere are convinced that he counts against the Flyers’ cap, hindering the team’s ability to acquire a quality D-man. The truth: Rathje has remained on the long-term injured reserve list since halfway through the 2005-06 season and will not be coming off the list any time soon. While he stays on the LTIR, his salary does not count against the cap. The Flyers are still responsible for paying Rathje his salary. I’m sure Ed Snider would prefer not to pay a man to sit on the bench, but he has consistently shown a willingness to put his money behind the team. Philadelphia routinely shelled out similar quantities pre-lockout to those offered in Detroit and Toronto.
Myth #4: The loss of Vinny Prospal damages the Flyers’ top six.
Vinny Prospal didn’t want to play in Philadelphia, period. The guy showed absolutely no heart in the playoffs after the first few games against Washington. If playing for the Stanley Cup doesn’t get his blood boiling, then I don’t want him on my team.
Prospal was brought in to solve a problem: the absence of Simon Gagne. The only way that “losing” Prospal hurts Philadelphia is if Simon Gagne never returns to the lineup. In this city, we’ve seen concussions destroy brilliant careers. And should Gagne come back, don’t expect much the first several months. Gagne has a long history of requiring significant periods of time to rediscover his magic after an injury.