PHILADELPHIA –Back when I was in college at American University in 1991 I had the privilege of reading the Washington Post on a daily basis.
Tony Kornheiser was a featured columnist then. He wrote a weekly column that year called “The Bandwagon” for the Washington Redskins because he could tell it was going to be a special season.
Each week he would add new readers onto the bandwagon. He’d add Washington dignitaries. National political figures. Musicians. Movie stars. You name it, each week that thing got bigger and bigger.
He would even kick people off too from week to week if they would even think of disparaging that great team. It was a fun experiment in journalism, but it was one that the Redskins fans really got behind. They went all in with that team and were rewarded in the end with a Super Bowl championship.
I tell you that story to set up this one:
It’s time to get on board the Flyers bandwagon.
That’s right. In an homage to a writer who inspired me to do this for a living, I’m going to bring back the bandwagon. Hop in. I’ll be behind the wheel for the first part of the trip, but anybody who wants to take the wheel, just let me know – I’ll be happy to take a passenger seat, put my feet up, munch on some Doritos and listen to Fallout Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” on perpetual loop.
Am I crazy? Maybe. After all, the Flyers are still about 14 points away from clinching a playoff spot, so nothing is guaranteed. And if they get there, there are certain teams they don’t match up as well with as others, meaning the stay could be short.
But why worry about that? Why bite the fingernails? Why keep shifting in the seat? Just relax and enjoy the ride.
The reason I’m giving you the Joe Cool, sunglasses and all is because this team has an attitude now. One that is as infectious as it is brazen.
Can’t win in the West Coast? Yeah? Watch us.
Can’t sweep the red hot Capitals? Yawn.
Can’t win both games of a weekend series against the first place Penguins? Puh-lease.
Can’t beat the defending Stanley Cup Champions because they buried you by five goals last time you played them. Pfft.
And don’t mistake this as cocky. It’s not. The Flyers are going to lose games again this season. And yes, I pluralized that word. This isn’t to say that the competition is beneath this team, for it’s not.
If there’s one thing the Flyers learned this season is as a team, it cannot take portions of games off because it’s not a good enough team.
But, what they have learned is resilience. Perseverance. Gall.
They also have learned to play for one another. That they truly like one another and respect one another.
And they are being led by a guy who is so easily deserving of being a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the league MVP.
Yep, it’s Captain Clutch Claude Giroux who took the bandwagon out of storage on Nov. 9th, in Game 16 when he scored his first goal. He spent some time giving it a tune up – about a month – looking for new parts, making sure that it was road-ready, and he started test-driving it across North America on Dec. 11 in Chicago.
Now, a little more than three months later, against those same Blackhawks, Giroux posted another two points, moved into fourth in the NHL in scoring and in that time the supped-up jalopy has been purring again, he is leading the NHL in scoring.
And while he has led the way, he hasn’t been alone. There have been other mechanics tinkering with its parts. Guys like Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Kimmo Timonen have tested its mettle.
Everyone else is following suit now too.
This team, whose confidence was so shaken in October, is a pillar of poise and determination in March. No matter what happens the rest of the way, that piece is sticking with them. That morale and bold spirit isn’t going anywhere.
And so, it’s time to believe in the Flyers once again. It’s time to make a commitment. This team is deserving of your support.
The Bandwagon is hitting the streets of the Delaware Valley. Where it’s going is up to you. But you got to join me first.
Want to be on the Bandwagon? Tweet me @InsideTheFlyers with the hash tag #FlyersBandWagon and tell me why you want to get on board.