For as long as we can remember we’ve had one reliable Crazy Team, an organization we could count on to defy our every expectation of how wacked out they could possibly be. And that team, Gentle Reader, was the Philadelphia Flyers. When we wished on them a playoff failure, they’d go and top our wildest dreams by losing 8-0 on their own ice to significantly inferior teams. When we hoped to see a colossal collapse, they’d go out and have their goalie give up impossibly crazy goals, then skate toward his own bench while play was going on, screaming furiously in unintelligible Czech at his own teammates. When we prayed to the hockey gods that they’d reveal a tragicomic leadership void in that organization, we were treated to the Great Debacle of the 2000 Eastern Conference Final. But we’re wondering now, at the outset of this new season, if maybe the Flyers’ Reign of Crazy is coming to an end. Are we looking at the dawn of a new age of crazy?
See, here’s the thing: last season the Flyers peaked in Craziness. (Okay, that’s not entirely true. They peaked in the aforementioned Great Debacle, that was so debaclous that it was like a pandemic of debacling. But we digress.) They stunk up the Eastern Conference so badly at the start of the year that they broke their fans’ spirits, sent Peter Forsberg into a legacy-destroying tailspin, and finally, finally got Bobby Clarke fired. But then they quietly started acquiring decent players, installed a coach who seems to be a pretty good fit for those players, and became almost unrecognizable for how they went about their business like a team that has its head screwed on relatively straight. We realize it’s probably too much to expect a team that is no longer run by Bobby Clarke to be reliably Crazy, but we’re also curious about the way things played out on July 1. We think we may have seen a glimmer of the New Crazy. And that New Crazy is the New York Rangers.