The Flyers exit interviews on Monday sure gave us a lot to think about. We learned that Steve Mason and Ryan White are either delusional or being blackmailed by Craig Berube, while other players are a bit more vocal about their issues with how the coach has used them on the ice.
The loudest complaints came from frequent healthy scratch, Vincent Lecavalier. It does sound like Lecavalier is dead set on fulfilling at least one of Flyers fans dreams because he is now saying that if Berube is in Philadelphia, he doesn’t want to be.
“He’s got his views and he showed that,” he said. “I think 17 or 18 games, I was scratched, so it’s going to be tough to change his mind. But we’ll see what happens.” Lecavalier told media after his brief interview with Berube. Although he did eventually find some success on a fourth line that included Chris VandeVelde and Pierre-Edouard Bellamare, Lecavalier was never given a lot of ice time and was scratched whenever possible. The breaking up of that fourth line was met with some confusion and protest from fans after Berube’s constant line shuffling had led to multiple effective lines being broken up and no one line being able to develop good chemistry with each other, but it may have just been Berube trying to lessen Lecavalier’s role even more.
Lecavalier has definitely seen a drop in production with less ice time, 12:39 as opposed to 15:11 last season and a change from Center (his “natural” position) to right winger. However, Berube has used players like Michael Del Zotto, who had a resurgent season after being scratched for a number of games early in the season, as examples of what he expects a player to do after being scratched. “That’s what we’re looking for,” Berube said. “If I sit a guy out . . . when he gets back in the lineup, I expect him to be better. It’s called mental toughness.” That lthought may be a bit confusing coming from Berube, because it shows a logical reasoning for benching players from a coach that seemed to make moves based on spinning a giant wheel. Maybe it’s not a completely solid theory, but when looking at Del Zotto and even short bursts of Lecvalier’s season it seems to make some sense. What doesn’t make sense is how Berube could have any type of sound logic while also making some pretty ridiculous comparisons between Sean Couturier and Patrice Bergeron.
Lecavalier has expressed his desire to stay in Philadelphia telling interviewers, “the guys in that room are pretty solid, and it would be great to be a part of something with them, for sure,” but not if it means dealing with Craig Berube for another season. “The fans are great, the organization is great, living here is [great]. My wife and my kids absolutely love it here, … But, yeah, things did change when Chief came on board.”
So there are a couple of options. The first and possibly simplest being Craig Berube getting the boot. We might do better without Chief’s uh, unorthodox line combination strategy and confusing comparisons and misuse of players, but then the Flyers would still be stuck with Lecavalier’s painful contract. Who knows under a new system Lecavalier might have a Del Zotto like resurgence, or he may be just as ineffective as ever.
The second, and maybe a bit far fetched, the Flyers could find a team willing to take Lecavalier. Of course the Flyers would probably have to retain some of his salary, but would it be worth getting rid of him? That would also mean Berube is staying for at least another year to finish out his existing contract. A variation of this option, which Sam Carchidi seems to think is the only way to rid the Flyers of Lecavalier, would be for the Flyers to buy out Vinny and let him find another team himself or retire.
The final option could be that nothing happens. Vinny doesn’t get traded and Berube doesn’t get fired. That would mean a lot of issues for next season and maybe one of the two is out of town next season, but for now it’s still possible that they both return.
So pick your poison fans. Who would you rather the Flyers keep? Do you want Berube to stick around for another season, or do you want Lecavalier to get another chance with a new coach?