A few weeks ago, the Philadelphia Flyers were playing the Washington Capitals near the end of the exhibition season. Flyers forward Jake Voracek had sustained a back injury a few days prior and was expected to return against the Capitals, but was ultimately scratched.
The Flyers stated it was merely precautionary, but that didn't stop speculation given the team's perceived reputation as -- shall we say -- truth negotiators resonated in the collective consciousness.
"Interesting," the Internet purred. "Is he hurt worse than the Flyers are letting on?"
Fast-forward to the beginning of the regular season and Voracek was back in the lineup when the Flyers hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs on opening night. However, instead of playing alongside captain Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell, Voracek was on the third-line with Sean Couturier and Max Talbot, replaced by Brayden Schenn on the top-pairing.
"Interesting," the Internet buzzed again. "Is Voracek fully recovered yet?"
The level of interest the Flyers generate isn't limited to just Jake Voracek. In general, the franchise is professional hockey's greatest thriller, complete with twists, turns and suspense.
The man behind the bench, Peter Laviolette, drew the attention of the masses entering this season, as his seat was considered the hottest in all the NHL. Having led the team to the Stanley Cup Final in his first year as coach, Laviolette recorded consecutive 47-win seasons that both culminated in Eastern Conference Semifinal appearances before a disastrous showing in 2013 ended with a 10th place finish in the conference.
Despite assurances from management about the safety of Laviolette's employment, speculation still brewed.
"Was Laviolette safe?" the Internet asked in anticipation. "Would he make it past the 10-game mark?"
No, Laviolette wouldn't make it past the three-game mark as manager Paul Holmgren decided -- on a gut feeling -- that a change needed to be made. Whether that was the ultimate rationale for the move remains to be seen. But it's another instance of the Flyers organization displaying why they are the NHL's most entertaining show.
Philadelphia is a wild card. While you always kind of know what they're going to do, you never know what they're going to do. The only thing that you can bet on is that they're going to do something and that it's going to keep you on the edge of your seat. No name is ever too big and no risk is ever worth wasting. If it's an aggressive stance, the Flyers will be the ones to take it.
In a micro-observation of the franchise over the last four years, the team has: come two games short of winning the Stanley Cup, traded Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, traded for Ilya Bryzgalov, lost Chris Pronger for the remainder of forever, offer sheeted Shea Weber, traded Sergei Bobrovsky (who went onto win a Vezina), traded first-round pick James van Riemsdyk, cut Bryzgalov, cut Danny Briere and signed Vincent Lecavalier.
Is the player a star? Does he want a max-contract? Whatever the case, Philadelphia will be involved. The reason they're involved? Because they're always involved.
The Flyers continually chase the most sought after players in the league, price tag be damned. The interesting dynamic is that the team does so with the intention of winning the Stanley Cup. And while the team's owner, Ed Snider, will be quick to tell you that the team has qualified for the Finals on multiple occasions, they still haven't won that elusive third championship trophy.
Will the removal of Laviolette do that? Will the team make a mega-trade before March's deadline to do so?
You'll have to tune in next week to find out.