[EDITOR’S NOTE: This was written for The Broad Street Bully website relaunch. This will coincide with a website redesign and the start of a group of writers who will be creating consistent, weekly content. This article is a jumping off point for that.]
With the advent of finding out that Hollywood is trying to reimagine the Big Trouble in Little China franchise with The Rock, it got me to thinking.
What if Hollywood were to recast one of the most famous movies of all time, The Wizard of Oz? And, even weirder, that I got to cast the entire movie with the only catch being that I can only use players from my favorite sports team. So, what would a completely recast Wizard of Oz look like with only Philadelphia Flyers players?
Flyers player Nolan Patrick recast as Dorothy
If you think about this logically, Dorothy is the center of the entire movie. You have to imagine she’s pretty great before this movie starts because why would they go through the trouble of making a movie about her in the first place if she stinks?
In a way, she’s a lot like beautiful Nolan Patrick. The Flyers lucked into drafting Patrick at second overall in a draft where they had no business in picking inside the top ten. Now, Patrick is the Flyers heir apparent as the next face of the franchise. He’s only going into his second season and people are already predicting he will be centering the Flyers second line. Just like Dorothy and her journey home that was rife with interesting friends and some luck, Nolan Patrick is going to need those same things if he wants to be a Stanley Cup champion.
Luckily for Nolan, there’s no place like the Wells Fargo Center.
Flyers player Wayne Simmonds recast as Toto
I thought long and hard about who should play Toto. And I don’t want to denigrate anybody by giving them the responsibility of playing a dog with literally no speaking parts. Ultimately, I decided on Wayne Simmonds for the following reasons:
Toto bites that crusty old lady who is miserable all the time. Yes, it does land him on the short list to be euthanized, but it says something about his character. That dog is willing to stand up to a miserable old bag that is 10 times his size and even bite her to prove a point.
That summarizes Wayne Simmonds’ career as a member of the Flyers. He battles every game, whether it’s for position in front of the net or because he has to stick up for a fellow teammate that is getting pushed around. Simmonds doesn’t have a problem punching anybody in the face if it gives the Flyers a chance to win a hockey game.
Of course, Dorothy doesn’t have to risk losing Toto in free agency like the Flyers do, but that’s an issue for a time later in the 2018-2019 Flyers season.
Flyers player Jori Lehtera recast as Aunt Em
Flyers player Dale Weise recast as Uncle Henry
In the beginning of the movie, Dorothy is running away from her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. And they realistically bring nothing to the film because they don’t even have character foils in the land of Oz. In all, worthless characters by most metrics.
On the Flyers, neither Lehtera or Weise play any substantial roles. Jori Lehtera is slow and, while his penalty killing is pretty decent, most people will only remember the time he scored by accident in the slowest developing two on one in the history of the Flyers. After this year when his contract runs out, I’d expect him to retire because who else is going to give him a contract?
Dale Weise was also a free agent signing that panned out to be awful in the sense that any money given to Dale Weise was wasted money by the Flyers. I’m not sure anyone, including Hextall, expected him to play as terrible as he has for the Flyers but that’s what happens when Hextall is cash strapped and trying to guess what cheap free agents will make an impact in the lineup that he was slowly infusing with the youth from the farm.
Flyers player Ivan Provorov recast as Professor Marvel
After Dorothy runs away, Professor Marvel shows up to save the day. He stops Dorothy in her tracks and makes her realize she needs to go home.
Ivan Provorov filled a gap the Flyers had as soon as Chris Pronger “soft retired” with his completely random and freakish eye injury. Provorov establishing himself as the number one defenseman this season takes a huge weight off of Hextall because he can focus on searching for other spots to fill. Being saddled with average defensemen like Andy MacDonald have really shown you the kind of talent Ivan Provorov has already. As he grows into his role and he starts to mature, his play should only get markedly better.
Even though Professor Marvel is positioned as a snake oil salesman, he’s probably the most magical person that Dorothy comes across throughout the whole movie. If you’ve been paying attention to Ivan Provorov’s subtle rise to the top of the Flyers defensive lines in just two years, that’s also some pretty magical work. It’s only fitting that Nolan Patrick will need Provorov’s know how to get them a Stanley Cup victory.
Soft retired is a term I’m using here because he just kept getting put on long term injured reserve while he did literally everything else he could to make money. This included taking a job with the NHL and getting traded to the Arizona Coyotes.
The Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man help Dorothy through her journey of Oz to meet the Wizard. They play a major role in the overall message of the film while their recast Flyers players also play a major part on the team. Or, a semi major part. Let me explain.
Flyers player Jakub Voracek recast as the Cowardly Lion
Jake Voracek fits in perfectly as the Cowardly Lion because he’s looking for courage. He doesn’t need courage for the cross ice passes he forces to Giroux while he’s out on the Flyers first powerplay unit. He’s definitely not worried about that. And the courage also isn’t for the turnovers he sometimes causes because he’s trying to do too much with the puck. That’s a non-issue for him. And the courage is definitely not for how strong he is on the puck when he’s battling along the wall.
No, it’s because he searches out his name on social media and blocks people from Flyers Twitter when he sees commentary he doesn’t like or agree with. And, I know what you’re thinking right now: won’t this post get you blocked? Well, it’s too late to get blocked for this post because we’re already blocked for something else we’re not exactly sure about.
Flyers player Radko Gudas recast as the Scarecrow
Radko Gudas gets to the play the Scarecrow because, if he only had a brain, he could probably avoid most of the suspensions he has accrued in his time with the Flyers. Generally, he is a pretty serviceable defenseman for the Flyers when he actually spends time on the ice. And when he’s playing with a physical edge, it really benefits the Flyers because other teams have to make sure they are aware of his location and it prevents them from fully executing their game plan. But, the caveat to Gudas is that he’ll sometimes go out and axe chop people. This is not always the best response and it usually has some negative results for the Flyers.
Flyers player Taylor Leier recast as the Tinman
Trying to pick out who would play the Tinman is tough because it’s hard to guess on the Flyers needs more heart. Since the departure of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in the expansion draft, the Flyers also need to fill the role of a player who brings a lot of he’A’rt to team so why not Taylor Leier?
Flyers Twitter seems to have a real thing for him and value him more than just a fourth line player. That many mouth breathers have to be on to something, I guess. Taylor Leier gets to bring the heart to the Flyers lineup.
Unless they can replace him with literally anyone else. Then I’m going to go with that other option.
Flyers player Claude Giroux recast as The Good Witch
The Good Witch is basically the Captain of Oz. She shows up when Dorothy appears, tells her exactly what she has to do to get home, and checks up on her progress. That’s all the trademarks of someone who knows and appreciates good leadership.
The Captain of Oz should naturally also be the captain of the Flyers. Giroux is there to nurture all the young players and help them develop into serviceable NHL stars. And, if last season is any indication, Giroux still has a lot going for him that the Flyers are going to benefit from.
While he played well enough to at least be a Hart finalist, Giroux isn’t looking for those kind of accolades. He just wants to win games and be the guy that the team turns to when they need guidance.
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol recast as The Wicked Witch
The Wicked Witch is a real jerk. Even though Dorothy drops into Oz, murders her sister in cold blood, and then steals the ruby red slippers, the Wicked Witch is still unnecessarily angry about most things. She’s also out to kill Dorothy because it’s the only way she can get those ruby red slippers back.
And if you follow Flyers Twitter, then you would know Hakstol is a terrible coach and the Flyers only win to spite his terrible coaching. He spends all of time trying to bury young talent in hopes that they will never succeed or reach their full potential with the Flyers. And he’s basically the most horrible thing to ever happen to the Flyers and everyone hates him.
I mean, if you’ve been paying attention to Flyers Twitter, this was honestly the easiest one to cast.
Flyers player Travis Konecny recast as multiple version of the Munchkins
The Munchkins are the little tiny people from the Wizard of Oz that Dorothy meets in her travels. Due to their diminutive size, Travis Konecny would appear to be the obvious choice to play them. But I want them to do it like they did with the new Oompa Loompa in Johnny Depp’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and have multiple Konency’s recreated by using CGI.
There’s also those infamous stories about how hard the little people partied on set when the cameras weren’t rolling. And when Konency isn’t on the ice scoring goals for the Flyers, he looks like the kind of guy that enjoys floating in an above ground pool, while drinking some Miller Lites, and yelling at his neighbors for parking their car too close to his house.
Flyers player Scott Laughton recast as the Flying Monkeys
For all intents and purposes, the Flying Monkeys are the Wicked Witch’s henchman that carry out all of her evil bidding. They are good at following directions and even have the power of flight. They savagely attack the Scarecrow just because they are soulless animals.
Scott Laughton was drifting aimlessly in the Flyers organization, at risk of being called a first round draft bust, until he completely redefined his game at the AHL level. He changed his style of play to a more defensive approach, took some direction from his coaches, and has become a pretty effective third and fourth line checker. The Flyers also get the bonus of his increased effectiveness on the penalty kill.
Also, just like the Flying Monkeys, Laughton has piercing, cold dead eyes. Eyes where you look at them but you just don’t see, or feel, anything behind them. If you ever accidentally make eye contact with him, you spend the rest of the day feeling uncomfortable that you crossed paths with the glare of a potential serial killer.
It’s that kind of anger that will make him effective for the Flyers. Let’s get him in the lineup next season.
Flyers GM Ron Hextall recast as The Wizard of Oz
You find out in the movie that the Wizard isn’t really all he’s cracked up to be and that he can’t really do magic. It’s sort of a depressing time in the movie as the viewer thinks Dorothy isn’t going to find her way home. That’s why we’re going to replace the lame version of the Wizard with Ron Hextall.
Let me remind you of Ron Hextall’s magical exploits: he traded Chris Pronger’s contract after years of him never playing a game; he traded Zac Rinaldo for a third round pick; he traded Vincent Lacavalier and Luke Schenn away from the Flyers and got Jordan Weal as a throw in player for the return; he revitalized the Flyers farm system and even picked Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny during the draft in the same round; and he even traded for Petr Mrazek out of a need for a goalie and ended up getting the better of the trade with the Wings GM, Ken Holland.
Ron Hextall is a true wizard.
An Honorable Mention: Flyers player Michal Neuvirth recast as the stuntman who plays the “on fire” Scarecrow
When the Scarecrow ended up getting lit on fire and subsequently panicking, it’s one of the scariest parts of the movie. In much the same way, whenever the Flyers have to rely on Michal Neuvirth to not hurt himself, that same panic sinks in.
It’s not that Michal Neuvirth is a bad goalie. Because he isn’t. It’s just that he hurts himself all the time and definitely at the worst possible times. It’s almost as if he does out of spite.
While the Scarecrow needed a brain, Michal Neuvirth just needs better muscles and hips.
Flyers player Andrew MacDonald recast as the Wicked Witch of the East
To put it into perspective: the Wicked Witch of the East has the entire land of Oz to be mulling about in. Unfortunately, she ends up being directly under the only house that suddenly appears in the sky. That house is also the reason she meets her untimely demise. She gets crushed by the house mostly because she is in the wrong place at the right time. Most notably, anywhere else not underneath a falling house.
In a lot of ways, Andrew MacDonald is the Flyers version of the Wicked Witch of the East. When you’re watching Andrew MacDonald play with defensemen that aren’t Ivan Provorov, you’re often left wondering “Why did he do that?” or “Why was he on that side when he should have been in front of the net?” or “Why did he think he could pinch when he clearly isn’t fast enough to back check?” He’s consistently in the wrong place at the wrong time and usually ends up on his back, sprawled out. It might be even worse because it’s not as a result of a house landing on him. It’s just his crushing mediocrity that weighs him down in most cases.
So, there it is everyone. That’s what the Wizard of Oz would look like recast with just current Flyers players.