The Philadelphia Flyers acquisition of Tampa Bay Lightning's veteran Pavel Kubina was another attempt to upgrade its defense in preparation for a playoff run. It also represents the team's latest cultural change.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren has changed one-third of his team's defense within the last few days.
After acquiring Dallas Stars defenseman Nicklas Grossman on Thursday, adding someone like Kubina made sense. Grossman is a stay-at-home presence, while Kubina has been more offensively oriented during his career and has a right-handed shot.
Head coach Peter Laviolette had gotten as much as he could out of his young defensive prospects and clearly needed more experienced tools to work with.
The overriding issue of inconsistent goaltending won't be solved solely by any mix of defenders.
While the overall strength of a team's defense clearly has a direct effect on a goaltender's game, there's no denying that the same is true in reverse.
But, Ilya Bryzgalov wasn't in net last season as the team's overall defensive play began to disintegrate during the regular season. It rapidly declined against the Buffalo Sabres in the Quarter-Finals and then allowed twenty goals, during a four-game sweep, at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the Semi-Finals.
While various defensemen were playing with injuries, a bigger issue was actually revealed through last year's playoff exit.
Culture change behind the blue line
What's become quite clear, as this regular season has played out, is that the Flyers overall defensive scheme isn't consistent. While it may have been mentally expedient to default to the "Chris Pronger concussion conclusion", regarding this season's defensive struggles, a broader decision was reached by the team's top brass.
Holmgren decided that Grossman and Kubina offer the team a chance to have a more solid blue line rotation. But, those moves are likely just the first part of a defensive transition.
Matt Carle's, Grossman's and Kubina's contracts end after this season. All-Star Kimmo Timonen's after 2012-13. Andrej Meszaros' after 2013-14. Braydon Coburn's after 2015-16.
Let's keep in mind that Holmgren brought in Bryzgalov and strongly changed the forward lines during this past offseason, but didn't make any major moves on defense. These two moves are the first steps in doing that.
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He has written professionally for over two decades and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
More from this author and the Yahoo Contributor Network:
- Pavel Kubina
- Nicklas Grossman
- Paul Holmgren
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Ilya Bryzgalov