Blogs > In The Room with Anthony SanFilippo

Daily Times beat writer Anthony J. SanFilippo takes you inside the locker rooms of the Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of the NHL.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So this is what hockey is like?

I had two special guests at the Flyers game tonight. Garnet Valley softball centerfielder Mary Schlosbon and the Jaguars' volleyball outside hitter Lauren Hostetler.

Mary won the opportunity to be a member of the media with me at a Flyers game (I know, what did the losers get?) and she decided to bring her classmate along.

I asked them to write a blog about their first NHL experience. Here it is. I don't know what was more fun, them writing it or me listening to them laugh about it while doing it.

Also, thanks to Harry Zolneirczyk who took a picture with them after the game.

Lauren: Despite the Flyers tough loss against the Islanders, I had
such an awesome time at my first Flyers game!

Mary: Going into this game, I was pretty anxious because we weren't
dedicated Flyers fans.

Lauren: The only game we watched of the Flyers is the Winter Classic,
and I didn't even understand the rules!

Mary: I can't believe that the first thing we did when we got to the
Wells Fargo Center was hold the door open for Danny Briere before his

Lauren: We even got to say, "Good luck!" (Anthony's note: A lot of
good that did!!)

Mary: One of the highlights of the night was getting to interview
Peter Laviolette.

Lauren: It was hilarious when he called us "rookies" and asked if we
had any questions before the game.

Mary: We were definitely caught off guard; at least we wished him good luck too!

Lauren: Even though we gave Coach Laviolette and his team our well
wishes, they couldn't pull out the win in the end.

Mary: Even though they lost, the excitement of the game was definitely
worth it!

Lauren: We even got to witness our first hockey fight! (Anthony's
note: It was Claude Giroux after all, so it's not like it was a
heavyweight bout, but it'll suffice!)

Mary: After the game, we got to go into the Flyers' locker room and
got to meet Harry Z! (Anthony's note: What, Zolnierczyk was difficult
to type? Come on, that's the common spelling!!)

Lauren: He was really cool, and I hope he'll follow us on Twitter.

Mary: I think it's safe to say that we are now officially Flyers fans.

Lauren: I couldn't agree more! GO FLYERS!

Laviolette waxes on Jagr

Jaromir Jagr told reporters Thursday that he wants to play in Philadelphia again next year.

After hearing that, Peter Laviolette spoke fondly about Jagr.

Below is the video from before tonight's game.

Take special note to the beginning of the video Delco High School sports fans, that's Garnet Valley softball star Mary Schlosbon and Jaguars' volleyball standout Lauren Hostetler doing the camera work and talking to the coach before the game.

Schlosbon was the winner of the "be a media member for a day" with me at the Daily Times Awards banquet last summer and she decided to bring her good friend and classmate.

The two got a taste of the action within minutes of walking in the door. They'll share their experience on this blog after the game.

The video is courtesy of Hostetler's Youtube page:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Talbot dazed by Staios hit

During the Flyers 3-2 win in New York, their 23rd in the last 24 by the way, Max Talbot took a forearm to the head on a blindside hit by Steve Staios.

No penalty was called on the play, but Talbot stayed down on the ice after struggling to get up. After a couple minutes he returned to the bench and took another shift or two, even getting an assist on a goal by Sean Couturier.

However, after the game, Max was annoyed with the hit,and didn't seem himself after the game.

In the video below, he talks about Sergei Bobrovsky some, but when I finally ask him the question about the hit, you can see it's bothering him and he's still feeling the affects.

I wouldn't be surprised if Max is held out of the game in Nashville after trainers have a good chance to evaluate him tomorrow.

How Can Five Flyers make the All-Star Team?

The NHL will announce it's All Star team later today. It's almost a certainty, that since the NHL Hockey Operations department picks the players, that there will certainly be a screw-up or two - like when they initially overlooked Danny Briere last season.

That being said, I'll make it easy on them.

Here is a list of should be All-Stars, broken down by team, with the exception of the final spot, which I explain at the end. Each team list includes the rookies who are also being selected.

We'll see how close I come in a few hours:

FLYERS - (4) Claude Giroux, Kimmo Timonen, Matt Read, Sean Couturier - Giroux is a no-brainer. Timonen might not be having his best defensive season, but you can't argue with his offensive numbers where his 25 points have him tied for seventh-best in the NHL among defensemen. Read is another no-brainer as he is tied for the rookie lead in goal scoring but Couturier is also deserving. Consider: Among rookies he's 12th in scoring, third in plus-minus, fourth in faceoffs among centers, and all this from a fourth line/penalty killing role. Imagine what he'd be if he got more than 12 minutes ice time per game.

New York Rangers - (2) Henrik Lundqvist, Michael Del Zotto - The $51 million dollar goalie might be in Philly, but the "money" net minder plays in New York. Del Zotto has had a really nice bounce back season after a sophomore slump. Some will argue that Dan Girardi is a better choice because he's a veteran and a better defensive defenseman, but as steady as he is, Del Zotto has stuck out more this season. Where's Marian Gaborik? He's in that conversation at the end.

New Jersey Devils - (2) Adam Larsson, Adam Henrique - The two Devils rookies have been outstanding and are a big reason why they are poised to return to the playoffs this season. They will both count among the dozen rookies in the All-Star festivities as Devils stars like Patrik Elias, Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise have been sub-par so far this season.

Pittsburgh Penguins - (1) Evgeni Malkin - If they were healthy, they'd be a Stanley Cup contender. They are ravaged by injury, it's starting to look like they'll miss the playoffs, and as a result, just Geno, their best player this season, gets the All-Star nod. Narc-Andre Fleury was close, but just missed the top six among goalies.

New York Islanders - (1) John Tavares - For a team that no one cares about - not even the NHL - Tavares is having a nice season. 39 points through 41 games is pretty good. It just gets lost because the Islanders are so bad.

Boston Bruins - (2) Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara - Thomas was voted a starter and Chara is a perennial All-Star. The more interesting items are the names not listed. Tlyer Seguin? Patrice Bergeron? We'll get to Seguin later, but Bergeron, a should be Selke finalist, loses out because it's an All-Star game. Nobody wants to see excellent defensive forwards!! I'd take Bergeron on my real team any day. Just not the All-Star team.

Ottawa Senators - (5) Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Erik Karlsson, Colin Greening - Yes, the host city will have a handful of hometowners to root for. Not that they all deserve to be there. Alfredsson, Spezza, Michalek and Karlsson were all voted in by fans despite only Spezza and Karlsson deserving of being there. Greening is deserving as a rookie and will round out the five-spot of Sens.

Toronto Maple Leafs - (3) Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Dion Phaneuf - This was an easy team. Phaneuf was voted in. Kessel and Lupul are the highest scoring line mates in the NHL. No one else from the team was even in the conversation.

Buffalo Sabres - (2) Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek - One of them will be there for sure, as each team needs one representative, but I think both belong. Pominville is top 10 in the NHL in scoring with 43 points (only five less than Giroux, who we're talking about as a Hart finalist)so to leave him off would be a crime. As for Vanek, he was my next-to-last forward I picked. But the rationale is, it's hard to argue 40 points and a plus-player on a non-playoff team.

Montreal Canadiens - (1) Raphael Diaz - What, no Carey Price? He's been good behind a bad team, but there are other decent goalies on bad teams and they're not in the All Star game. Quite simply, there were six more deserving options than Price. Not that anyone else on that roster deserved to go either. At least Diaz is a rookie defenseman that has shown some promise, so there you go.

Florida Panthers - (1) Brian Campbell - One of the surprise teams of the NHL this season, yet I am only awarding one spot. Campbell has had a resurgence in Florida after being an albatross in Chicago. Kris Versteeg has to be in the conversation - and is for the final pick - but no one else stood out on the team.

Winnipeg Jets - (1) Evander Kane - Again, each team has to have one player, and while Kane isn't even the leading scorer on his own team (that would be Blake Wheeler) he is the rising star on the Jets and will represent Winnipeg well.

Washington Capitals - (1) Nicklas Backstrom - An All-Star game and no Sid or Ovie? That's right. Ovechkin has been a major disappointment through the first half of the season, as have the rest of the Caps. Backstrom has been their best player, and since each team needs to be represented - he's the choice.

Tampa Bay Lightning - (1) Steven Stamkos - Talk about disappointing teams. The Lightning were one goal away form the Stanley Cup Finals last Spring and now won't make the playoffs. Crazy. Stamkos is still pretty darn good though.

Carolina Hurricanes - (1) Justin Faulk - This team was the least deserving of any All-Stars. There isn't one player, veteran or rookie, who should be there. But, it's less egregious to put a rookie who is improving through hard work on the team then a vet that doesn't deserve to be there. So Faulk gets the nod.

Chicago Blackhawks - (3) Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp - The most exciting team in hockey gets three excellent offensive players into the game (and maybe a fourth as Patrick Kane is in the conversation for the final spot). Sharp may not be able to play because of injury, but deserves to be selected regardless. Hossa and Toews are having monster seasons. Where's Duncan Keith? I ran out of room on defense, but he's my first alternate if there's an injury.

Detroit Red Wings - (3) Jimmy Howard, Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk - Like Toronto, this was an easy trio. Howard is a likely Vezina finalist while the other two are grat players who deserve to be in this game every season.

St. Louis Blues - (1) Kevin Shattenkirk - As great as this team has been under Ken Hitchcock, there wasn't one standout player that screamed All-Star. Shattenkirk was the best choice because of his two way ability as a defenseman, scoring a good amount of points while being sound defensively. Brian Elliott would be a fun story, as good as he's been this season and heading back to Ottawa where he failed as a starting goalie, but I'm not giving an All-Star nod to a guy who has only started half of his team's games.

Nashville Predators - (3) Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Craig Smith - It'll be fun to just fuel the trade speculation fire with these two defenseman at All-Star weekend. Make no mistake, they are both among the best in the game, but Nashville may have to trade one within a month of the All-Star game. Smith has been one of the best rookies in the NHL this season, and belongs among the top 12.

Columbus Blue Jackets - (1) Ryan Johansen - What a foul, fetid, awful mess this organization is. Johansen, a rookie, has been their one bright spot on an otherwise disaster of a season. It'll be like a vacation for the kid to go to Ottawa and see what real hockey looks like.

Vancouver Canucks - (4) Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Alexander Edler, Cody Hodgson - Once again the Sedins find themselves at the top of the scoring race in the NHL and will be All-Stars again - maybe on the same team this time. Edler is not a popular choice for All-Star defensemen, but he's been the best on one of the league's best teams, so how can you ignore him? Hodgson is a talented rookie who is only adding to the great depth of the Canucks.

Colorado Avalanche - (1) Gabriel Landeskog - The Avs have been playing really good hockey lately, but without one standout star. Landeskog got off to a slow start to his rookie campaign, but has been much better the last month or so. He's only 19, so I expect the improvement to continue beyond that, which makes him one of the best dozen rooks in my book.

Minnesota Wild - (1) Niklas Backstrom - As great a start as the Wild got off to this season, it's amazing they only have one All-Star. But, when you lose 10 in a row, this is what happens. Backstrom has still been solid despite the team's collapse, and not to mention, it'll be fun at the fantasy draft determining between him and the Washington Center with the same name.

Calgary Flames - (1) Jarome Iginla - Like there's anyone else from that team who should be considered for an All-Star Game.

Edmonton Oilers - (2) Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle has been a breakout star this season to get into the top 10 in the NHL in scoring at the halfway point. Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 pick in the draft last summer, has not disappointed and is the leading scorer among rookies in the NHL.

San Jose Sharks - (1) Dan Boyle - With all the talent on this team, to only have one representative is indicative of how slow their start was. It came down to Boyle and fellow defenseman Brent Burns for me and I think Boyle has more cache in the league, which was the difference in the tossup. Burns could be a deserving injury replacement though.

Los Angeles Kings - (1) Jonathan Quick - If your team can't score, yet you are still in second place and clinging to a playoff spot, it has to be because of one guy. You're goalie. Quick has been excellent.

Dallas Stars - (1) Jamie Benn - What a great story Bennn has been for the Stars to become one of the better power forwards in the NHL. Credit him for his continued hard work to get where he is, deserving of a trip to Ottawa.

Phoenix Coyotes - (1) Mike Smith - Talk about crimes, if he's not an All-Star after the way he's carried the Coyotes this year, it's larceny. When they lost Ilya Bryzgalov, many thought the Coyotes were dead in the water. Smith has kept them afloat.

Anaheim Ducks - (1) Teemu Selanne - It's his last season. He's retiring. He's a surefire hall of famer playing out the string on a dreadful team. Yet, he leads the team in scoring at age 41 with 41 points and is a plus player. Gotta admire his commitment to the sport.

As for the final spot. There are 10 forwards in the conversation. A few of these guys may eventually end up on the roster because of injury concerns, but it comes down to one of the following:

Tyler Seguin, James Neal, Patrick Kane, Loui Eriksson, Marian Gaborik, Scott Hartnell, Kris Versteeg, Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias.

When doing my process of elimination, I immediately wiped out the three Devils because although they've ben hot lately, they weren't consistently good all season.

Likewise, I eliminated Versteeg, who started off on fire, but has slowed down a bit since.

I wiped out James Neal and Marian Gaborik for basically the same reason - somebody has to score goals on low-scoring teams, and they happen to be the guys, but they're not giving you much else besides the scoring threat.

So in the end it came down to Seguin, Hartnell and Eriksson to me.

I probably eliminated Eriksson because I don't get to see him enough. And if that was the determining factor, then shame on me, but I couldn't get away from the seasons Seguin and Hartnell were having.

Hartnell is the best power forward in the NHL this season. He creates so much havoc and also is putting up career-best offense. But I'm not sure he should go ahead of Seguin, a young superstar in the making.

Seguin has added a dynamic to the Stanley Cup champion Bruins that no one ever saw coming so soon. He is legit and should be celebrated for what he's doing as a 20-year-old in the NHL.

So give the nod to Seguin, and Hartnell just misses. But as soon as someone backs out with injury, Hartnell is the guy to go, hands down.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Braden, Kimmo and Ilya

Or, if you read the headline, it can be translated into the Good, the bad and the ugly.

Let's start with Brayden Schenn.

Since coming back from his concussion, Brayden Schenn seems to be getting better and better with each game.

Peter Laviolette had to juggle lines tonight with Jaromir Jagr out of the lineup nursing a groin injury, but methinks that even if Jagr comes back Saturday against Ottawa, Schenn's line with James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds will stay intact.

JVR had a pair of goals, Schenn his first Flyers assist, and the trio really seemed to work well together and skated hard together.

It'll also keep Jake Voracek with Danny Briere, the best possible winger (aside from the top line guys) to play with Briere and bring some semblance of the line Briere had so much success with last year and the playoffs before that when he had Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino.

But this is supposed to be about Schenn, who is starting to seem comfortable in his role on the roster. The kid definitely has talent. He creates a lot of offense. He's a decent faceoff guy and will only get better, and he's starting to show signs of why he had a reputation as the best prospect not in the NHL prior to this season.

That's a positive for the Flyers.

Now the negative.

Kimmo Timonen hurt his left hand/wrist in the first period of the game against Chicago. He missed the last 9:30 of the period, came back to take three shifts of the second period and then left the game for good.

He will be re-evaluated Friday.

I spoke with Paul Holmgren after the game, and he doesn't believe the injury is serious. Timonen had trouble gripping the stick when he returned in the second period, which is why he took himself out of the game.

It was Timonen's call to try and return to the game. Didn't last.

I would expect he misses the next two games and then we'll see.

As for Ilya Bryzgalov, this situation is getting worse and worse. He is now dodging the media with the full blessing of Holmgren. The Flyers say that's not the case, that Bryzgalov just isn't feeling well.

O.K., maybe that's the case.

But maybe not. Considering how often the Flyers fib, I tend to think this is all spin control.

Here's the timeline:

9:45 p.m. - the media asks for Bryzgalov but is told he's soaking in the hot tub and will be available after the coach speaks.

10:10 p.m. - We are told Bryz doesn't feel well and won't be talking. We are told Holmgren agreed with Bryzgalov and that he shouldn't speak if he's not feeling well. According to a team spokesman, Holmgren said to him "If he's not feeling well, don't let him talk (to the media)."

10:25 p.m.Bryzgalov starts tweeting about the World Junior Championship, which Russia lost in overtime to Sweden.

Now, it's quite possible to be sitting in bed watching TV and tweeting from your iPhone, but this, again, flies in the face of what the team is saying and proves they can't get their story straight.

First he's soaking in a hot tub, then he's sick, then Holmgren tells a PR person not to "let" him talk if he's not feeling well. Then Holmgren tells us that they sent him home to get to bed and get rest, then Bryz tweets about the game.

In other words, the story is shaky at best.

This comes on the heels of a Daily News report recently that teammates were annoyed when Bryz said he was sick during a November loss, telling the newspaper that they can't believe anyone was buying that he was actually sick.

It also follows up comments by former Phoenix teammates who say Bryzgalov caused many similar problems in their locker room and that they were happy he's gone.

It's one giant soap opera.

So much so that a former Flyer playing in another city said to me recently, "You guys must be having a field day with this Bryzgalov character. I read you every day just to see what he says next. It's riveting."

Yes, the reputation is preceding him at this point. And that can't be good.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A full transcript of the Bryzgalov meltdown at practice today

Ilya Bryzgalov is not starting the Winter Classic for the Flyers.

That's not the biggest problem he has right now.

It can be certain that the team can't be happy with some of the things he says publicly.

In an interview today, not only did he announce he wasn't starting in the game, but he went off on a loopy rant that has to have people questioning how he is dealing with the pressure of playing in Philadelphia, his relationship with his coach, and the fact that he has, at least temporarily, been demoted.

Here is the entire transcript of the Bryzgalov interview. Read it as it happened and decide for yourself just how disconcerting this whole thing is.


How was it out there?

“The ice is great. I like it. Unbelievable.”

Was your family here to skate?

“No, they still sleeping. I just came (here) from the party last night. New Year’s is a big holiday in Russia. We just finished 7 a.m. I get breakfast and came over here.”

Are you playing tomorrow?

“I have great news and even better news. OK, great news: I’m not playing tomorrow night. Good news: we have a chance to win the game tomorrow.

Are you just joking?

“No, I’m not playing, guys. I’m telling you, definitely.”

Are you disappointed?

“Yes. I’m a human. I’m not made from steel, but it is what it is and I had a good practice again like yesterday and two days ago. We just keep moving forward and there are lots of games in front of us. Lots of hockey. I heard it was still the main goal in Philadelphia to win the Stanley Cup and prepare for this.”

What’s your mindset for tomorrow?

“Make sure I don’t forget early in the morning, my thermos. I’ll put some nice tea (in it) and enjoy the bench.”

What’s it going to be like playing in front of a big crowd tomorrow?

“I can’t tell you because I’m not going to play.”

What have you been working on with (goalie coach) Jeff Reese?

“Nothing new. Just working on technical things. That’s it.”

Is this especially disappointing because it’s the Winter Classic?

“Oh yeah, that’s the only one reason. If it was another (regular season) game, I might not be frustrated like that. Still it’s a special game, outside. It’s like you step on the ice and ‘Oh, man. This is cool, actually.’ But I have my thermos, guys, like I told you.”

How do you know you’re not playing?

“It was written down. Actually, my goalie coach, Jeff Reese, he told me I’m not playing. Is it a big deal or not guys?”

Did you talk to Laviolette about it?

“No, I didn’t see the reason why. He’s the head coach. He makes these decisions and he’s responsible for the results. I can understand. He probably wants to put the best lineup he’s got for (the game).”

What is your role with the team now?

“I don’t worry about it.”

But, your workload has decreased siginificantly from what you were used to in Phoenix.

“This is the life. Every team’s different. You have to adjust and see if it works. Maybe it’s not going work. Maybe I’m not going to feel well if I play a lot. Who knows?”

Have you Watched 24/7?

“Yeah, I saw a couple.”

Did they use one interview?


Was it the greatest interview you’ve ever given?

“Hey, guys, you should read my Russian interviews with what I said in Russia. I was an angel in this interview.”

Do you like the show?

“I think life is a show. Isn’t it?”

How does this fit into the show?

“This? This is a great opportunity. It’s a great hockey holiday and the people get to enjoy it. Players, fans, media. I don’t hear any bad thing about players or fans or stuff like that from you guys. Just positive.”

What’s it like skating outside?

“Great. Oh, yeah. I remember we played City (something in Russian) and we fought team-on-team. I was 15-years-old. Man. Fans were jumping over the boards and started fighting too. Oh man, it was a great show.”

Did you fight the fans?

“No, I fought the other player, the goalie. Even fans from the home team, they jumped over the boards and started fighting.

How many did you hurt?

“I don’t remember. I was 15. You know, it was like, somebody pulled a knife, they threw the sticks. It was nasty.”

Like a Prison fight?

“Yeah, five people died.”

Do you have any advice for young kids?

“Work hard and believe in themselves.”

Was your family here today?

“No, like I said, we just get to the bed 7 a.m. in the morning. What are you talking about? I got my breakfast and came here to the practice.”

Why no family?

“They’re sleeping. It’s the biggest holiday in Russia.”

What kept you out all night?

(mimicking a drunk voice) “What else keep the players out all night?”

Do you think the fans will be disappointed that you’re not playing?

“You have to ask the fans.”

What do you think?

“I don’t know. I don’t know. There is nothing to do tomorrow. Come to the game early and start asking the fans ‘What do you think about it?’ and they give you an honest answer.”

What is the difference between how you were in Phoenix and how you are here?

“I am who I am. We have no reporters in Phoenix. I was really busy there because I was playing every game and I didn’t have time to talk. Right now I have plenty of time.”

Do you enjoy this part of it.

“It’s good. You guys ask good questions and it’s fun. It’s good that we all have a sense of humor. It’s not what I heard about the media. You’re actually pretty cool guys.”

Did you finish any good books on the road?

“Yes, I finished Tolstoy, it’s called ‘Struggles in Life.’ Right now I’m reading about Rasputin. It’s good stuff, man. Good stuff.”

Is there anything you learned from that Tolstoy book that can translate to what you’re going through now?

“People change their minds because they think one way at some point in their lives because they thought there was hope and then they change and start thinking differently.”

Have you lost hope?

“Who me? No. This is just hockey. It’s just hockey. You remember what I said about the universe? Compare that to the problems here? Come on. If you think your life is bad, there are other people on the earth who have it even worse. Don’t worry, be happy.”

What kind of tea will you drink tomorrow?

“It’ll be Earl Gray probably. Lemon, lots of sugar. Sweet. I hope I have enough for the whole game. It’s supposed to be colder tomorrow so we’ll see. I’ll probably make sure I have enough towels. I always wear long underwear and I usually wear lingerie too… what have you guys gotten from this conversation? Basically nothing, right? People don’t care how I feel. They want a show. They want entertainment. You remember Rome right? Antique Rome, the Roman Empire? What did the people want? Gladiators and bread. That’s all they wanted. The crowd hasn’t changed. It’s still the same. It’s going to be the same in the future.”

Do you pay attention to what people say about you? Do you care?

“I don’t care about the people. I don’t pay attention to what the people say. As long as I am happy with my game, it doesn’t matter what the people say. People can say that I’m playing pretty good, but if I’m not happy with my game, then I’m not happy with my game.”

Are you happy with your game?

“You remember what I said after the Tampa game? I said ‘I was outstanding.’ Of course I’m not (happy). There are black stripes in my life right now. No my life, but my hockey career. But, you know, it can be forever, but sometimes it’s going to change.”

Monday, December 26, 2011

Winter Classic: LaBelle to sing anthem

According to a league source, I have learned that Philadelphia native Patti LaBelle will sing the National Anthem prior to the start of the winter Classic Jan. 2.

Lauren Hart, the Flyers usual anthem singer, will still sing God Bless America, but I am told it will be at some point during the game, not before it, a la the seventh inning stretch at a baseball game.

There remains the possibility (probability?) of other acts performing as pre-game entertainment, but those names haven't been leaked just yet.

In case you want to see the difference between Lauren Hart and Patti LaBelle, here is LaBelle singing the anthem at the 2008 World Series.

All I have to say is hey, at least the Phillies won:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jagr back in BIg Apple, Briere out of the lineup

NEW YORK – Like many people, Jaromir Jagr is going home for the holidays.
Well, sort of.
Jagr returned to Madison Square Garden for the first time since leaving the Rangers to play in Russia following the 2008 playoffs.
Then next week, Jagr gets to go back to Pittsburgh, the place he won two Stanley Cups and a town that feels like they were spurned by him badly last summer when he chose to play in Philadelphia rather than go back to the Penguins.
“It’s part of the business of hockey but hopefully it’s not going to be as bad as Pittsburgh will be,” Jagr said of his return to the Big Apple. “It was hard in Pittsburgh before but it’s going to be crazy next week. I don’t know what to expect in New York, but in Pittsburgh, I know what to expect.”
If nothing else, Jagr had some positive recollections about his time spent with the Rangers and their organization.
“I cannot say one bad thing about the Rangers,” Jagr said. “They were good to me. The city, the organization – everybody. It was right after the lockout and the Rangers hadn’t made the playoffs in eight years and we had an unknown team and nobody was giving us any credit. Coach Tom Renney did a great job. Too bad I got injured before the playoffs my first year because I thought we could go very far.”
Despite his warm sentiments, it was a sure bet before the game even began that the always passionate New York fan base would greet him with a lusty boo.
And they didn’t disappoint.
However , those fans should remember that Jagr was the key piece to turning the Rangers from a perennial loser back into a playoff contender.
As a matter of fact, the last game Jagr played in Madison Square Garden was Game 4 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals against Pittsburgh.
In that game, with his team on the brink of being swept by the Pens, Jagr scored two goals and added an assist to have a hand in all three Rangers goals in a 3-0 victory for New York.
They would go on to lose the series in five games.
The last time Jagr played a game in Manhattan as a visiting player dates all the way back to January, 2003 as a member of the Washington Capitals. In that game, which ended in a 2-2 tie (remember those) Jagr was held scoreless and finished a minus-1.
L l l
Danny Briere became the latest Flyer to join a crowded team infirmary.
Briere missed Friday’s game with the Rangers suffering from what the team called a bruised hand. General manager Paul Holmgren listed him as day-to-day in an emailed injury report.
Briere apparently hurt his right hand against Dallas Wednesday, getting slashed by a Dallas player during a scrum. A screenshot captured by a Versus camera during the game shows the ring finger on Briere’s hand looking bruised and swollen.
Replays appear to show that a stick caught Briere’s hand hard, but it was difficult to tell which Stars player the stick belonged to, although both Vernon Fiddler and Mark Fistric where in the vicinity.
With Briere out of the lineup, it was assumed Ben Holmstrom would be re-inserted.
Uh, not so fast.
Instead, with the HBO cameras rolling and the hockey world watching what is a tune up for the Winter Classic, the Flyers chose to dress Jody Shelley while keeping Zac Rinaldo and Tom Sestito in the lineup as well.
Dressing all the big boys meant the plan was to approach this Rangers game physically.
“The Rangers have played well to this point and there’s no mistaking that they’re in the top of the conference,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “They’ve done it by finding a strong team identity and playing it hard to find success. That’s what makes the game exciting. There was more talk about not losing sight of things in a game against Dallas – a Western Conference team in the middle of a long, long month for us. This is a game that doesn’t need a whole lot of words. That energy, man I hope we have it and we have more pop than we know what to do with. Given that choice I’d rather have all that energy and let it out.”
L l l
NOTES: Both rookies Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn, sidelined with concussions, skated Friday in Voorhees at the Flyers’ practice facility. It was Couturier’s first skating session. Both players are considered day-to-day… Matt Walker joined Holmstrom as a healthy scratch… The Flyers will take off the next two days to celebrate the Christmas Holiday. They return to practice Monday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Guest Blog following a Flyers win and a shoving match between coach and player

In the ever changing world of journalism, Newspapers are frequently leaning on their staff to find ways to include the readers in the coverage of news.

In some circles it's called crowdsourcing. In others it's called engaging your readership.

Well, I stuck my neck out tonight and took it a step further.

I got a fan a press credential and put him to work.

Rob Rowello, a South Philly native and resident of Wyncote, PA was in Dallas on business Wednesday and was looking for a ticket to the game.

I had a proposition - come to the game and write me a story for my blog. Rob agreed. And then went a lot further.

Who knew that on this night there would be a run in between Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and Dallas Stars alternate captain Steve Ott?

With Claude Giroux returning from a concussion, I couldn't be in two places at the same time. So, I dispatched Rowello to the Stars locker room where he shot the video you'll see below and even asked Ott the direct question about the incident.

He then quickly posted the video to you tube where we exclusively tweeted it out.

All the while, he wrote a fine piece about his experience. Here it is below. Thanks Rob for the fine work.

Oh, and follow him on Twitter: @Rowello

Rob Rowello
Special Contributor to the Daily Times

DALLAS – It’s not every day when an average hockey fan like me gets a chance to experience an NHL game live from the press box. So when I recently got a call from my friend and former St. Joe’s Prep classmate, Anthony SanFilippo, who asked me to join him in Dallas to offer a “fan’s perspective” on how the media covers a hockey game, it was an offer I could not pass up, right?

I guess you can call me your typical 38-year-old Philadelphia sports fan - born and raised in South Philly on the Bullies (my mom still swears that she took me to the parade in ‘74) and the Flyers teams of the late 80’s (when we last had great goaltending).

Like most of us, I bleed orange and black, and have been to my fair share of games, experienced the highs of championship expectations, and suffered through the lows of heartbreaking endings. So, the idea of inviting me as a member of the “press” to cover a Flyers game was a very strange proposition for me.

I’ve heard from journalists before that once you cross over into the media, you become desensitized to the game and see things a lot differently. Plus acting like a “fan” in the press box is a no-no. The thought of me being at a Flyers game and not being able to cheer is like asking a hungry bear to not eat a trapped rabbit. Nature just doesn’t work that way. Usually.

So my journey into a “day in the life” of a beat writer started at the hotel, where I met up with Anthony before the game. For a typical fan like me, my game day experience starts at 7:05PM by turning on CSN or Versus.

I always knew that there was preparation required to cover a sports team like the Flyers, but I never realized how much preparation actually goes into it. Most journalists start their day by reading the opposing team’s home papers to get some insight and angles on the game. Then there’s the “morning skate sessions”, where the media is invited to cover the team during practice and interview the players afterward.

And the neverending tweets and the phone calls. It’s a 24/7 job, and every avenue is covered to bring the readers a unique perspective on the team and the game.

Two hours prior to puck drop, we arrived at the American Airlines Center to get some interview time with the coach and the players. I picked up my press credentials, and for a minute I actually felt official. We found our way to the press elevator, down to the “event level” where we made our way over to the Flyers locker room. After a quick chat with the Flyers media staff, an interview with Scotty Hartnell, and a bite to eat in the press dining room we headed up to the press box.

The one thing that stuck with me was how tightly knit the Philadelphia press community is. For a minute during dinner, I had a flashback of sitting around a table in my college cafeteria with some of my closest friends – the banter, stories, jokes.

The box at American Airlines Center is pretty spacious. Not as cramped and crowded as I imagined a press box being. To put things in perspective, the box is at the very top of the stadium (beyond the $9 cheap seats they sell here in Dallas), and there are two parallel rows of 90’ Formica countertops, with a bunch of really cheap (and very uncomfortable) desk chairs. I was assigned seat #18. I set up my laptop and iPad, and was ready for some action!

At 0:56 into the first period, Dallas drew first blood when Michael Ryder beat Sergei Bobrovsky glove side high. I stayed composed, no comments from the peanut gallery. At 8:30 in the first period, when Claude Giroux scored his first goal after returning to the lineup, my juices started flowing. Under my breath, I let out a slightly audible “yes!!”, but didn’t get any funny looks in the box.

I didn’t really cross the line until around 14:00 into the second period when Bobrovsky made two fantastic point-blank saves, and instinct kicked in hard. The bear ate the rabbit, and I bellowed out a big “yeah Bob!!” from the rafters, which drew a laugh and a head shake from Anthony.

By 5:22 into the third period, this game was pretty much history when Meszaros scored his 4th goal of the season to make it 4-1 Flyers. One final note on Giroux: I had my reservations when the Flyers announced he was coming back to the lineup this week, as I thought it was premature and rushed for an injury of his severity. But after putting up four points tonight, in an amazing show of skill, it’s clear the man is ready to play.

After the game, I had a chance to put my interviewing skills to the test. Anthony took the Flyers’ dressing room, and asked me to cover the Stars’ players, and specifically try to get something from Steve Ott on his brief exchange with Peter Laviolette at the end of the first period.

iPhone in hand, I muscled my way into the scrum of reporters in front of Ott, and fired away with a very succinct, yet point blank question, to which I got a very surprising reply. If you’re interested in the video, check it out on YouTube: “Steve Ott goes off on Laviolette”. (or see the video below)

So, in short, tonight’s “behind the scenes” experience was nothing short of impressive. I walk away tonight with a new respect for the men and women who work long hours and travel thousands of miles to bring home the stories for the teams we love. This is definitely every bit of a full time job, and I have witnessed the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to bring you that back page article. For me, I’m not quitting my day job. I think I’ll leave this one to the professionals and find a seat back on the couch.



Monday, December 19, 2011

Things looking up for #Hartnelldown

DENVER – Like any other hardcore Flyers fan, Seth Hastings was overtly frustrated with Scott Hartnell’s propensity to fall to the ice with regularity over the course of last season.
It got to be so ridiculous, in Hastings’ mind that he decided to keep track of every stumble publicly using his Twitter account (@SethDH) to memorialize each fall with the hash tag #Hartnelldown.
It quickly became a trending tag during Flyers games, with fans and media alike using it to reference every time Hartnell fell on his britches.
But something changed this season in a way that Hastings could never imagine.
Hartnell created his own Twitter account (@Hartsy19) and immediately followed Hastings. He reached out to Hastings to find out about the hash tag and decided that the two could work together to turn the tag into a positive.
“When I first saw it, I was kind of caught off guard,” Hartnell said. “I was like, ‘What is that’ because I didn’t know what it meant. I found out a little later that this count kept going up every time I fell down, so I could have hated it or embraced it.
“I talked to my agent and asked him if he thought it would be cool to make some t-shirts about it and take all the proceeds and give them to charity. He said, ‘let’s do it’ and within a couple of days I had the web site and the shirts. I tweeted about it and Seth was shocked that it got this big but he was excited t this was all going to charity so he was a good guy.”
The shirts, designed by Hartnell, feature the infamous hash tag on the front with the number 19 on the back and the words “down and dirty” on top of Hartnell’s Twitter handle.
They are available on Hartnell’s web site( all proceeds will be donated to charity.
Hartnell will give some money to local charities in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan that are recipients of money raised at the annual Scott Hartnell-Clark MacArthur Celebrity Golf Classic, and provide a couple of Philly area hockey players the chance to enroll in Minnesota Hockey Camps, a summer camp that hones hockey skills.
“Never in a million years did I expect this,” said Hastings, 26, a cook from Middletown, Pa (near Hershey) where he can be found serving up food at Hershey Park, the Giant Center and Hershey Park Stadium. “It started off as kind of a joke last year and then it took off when he joined Twitter and became a whole new beast.”
Hartnell called Hastings and offered him a pair of tickets to last Saturday’s loss to Boston and then met up with Hastings after the game and posed for pictures with the t-shirts.
“It’s wild,” Hastings said. “It’s what dreams are made of as a sports fan. You follow a team and at the end of the day the players are just normal guys when you get to meet them. It’s pretty cool to be associated with a guy who plays for the team who I love more than maybe life itself.”
Hartnell added that he’s going to try to convince some of his teammates to wear the shirts in the locker room once the Flyers get home so they can be seen on camera to promote the site even further.
It’s the least Hartnell’s teammates can do considering they give him as much grief – if not more – every time he falls to the ice.
“I’ve scored a couple of goals now where I’ve ended up on my butt and the counter goes up, so that’s a good thing,” Hartnell said. “You have to be light-hearted about it, you know? Every time I fall down in practice now all the boys start yelling ‘Hartnell Down,’ so that’s pretty good.”
So ,Hartnell has gone from social media whipping boy to Twitter darling this season – and not just because he’s having a very good season offensively.
it’s gone all the way from Twitter to charity, which is kind of surreal to me,” Hastings said.“It’s totally different now than when we first started. At the beginning it was more because everybody was ragging on Hartnell because of the contract he had and here he was falling down all the time, now he’s second on the team in goals and is a big contributor to the team and it has a whole different meaning .”
It does – but primarily because Hartnell has proven to be an athlete who gets it, and gets the fans, putting him into a refreshing minority.

Some other quick hitters for you….

-Jaromir Jagr and Jake Voracek are both wearing the letters “VH” on the back of their helmets tonight in tribute to former Czech President Vaclav Havel, who died over the weekend. Havel was instrumental in orchestrating the country’s freedom.

-Adrian Dater, the fine Avalanche beat writer from the Denver Post, asked Peter Laviolette today if he thought the art of the slapshot from a hard skating winger down the wall was a lost art. Lavvy had one gem of a response:
“I think the last real good one that we had, an old school, old-fashioned, slap drive was Jody Shelley’s in Atlanta last season,” Laviolette said. “It was world class, down the wing, blow it by you. It was epic. “Now, there’s time and space and gaps and everybody’s quick to defend and reloads are hard from behind, but he blocked a shot, got out of the defensive zone and down the wing and he was moving fast and hard and he just wound up and ripped it top shelf. It was a thing of beauty.”

-Matt Walker saw his first action for the Flyers since Oct. 26, replacing Kevin Marshall in the lineup. He missed 13 games after clearing waivers (twice) and being sent to Adirondack of the AHL. He has also been a healthy scratch for nine games in that same span.
It’s been a trying experience for Walker, 31, who hasn’t been able to getany regular time with the Flyers since being acquired as part of the Simon Gagne trade with Tampa in the summer of 2010.
“Im excited,” he said. “It’s been a long time, so I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing again.
“It’s been extremely hard. It never gets easier, whether you’re a young guy or an old guy. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. But you have to wait your turn. The team was on a hot streak there so you don’t expect things to change up because it’s tough for coaches to change things. So you have to bide your time and be ready. Every day you’re hoping something’s different, but you have to wait it out.”

-Former Flyer Mike Knuble will become the 20th American player to play 1,000 games when he suits up for the Washington Capitals tomorrow. Here’s what Knuble had to say about the accomplishment (quotes courtesy of Steve Whyno of the Washington Times):
“I was trying to make my way,” Knuble said. “I was just trying to make the '04 lockout – 400 games. I think that was a pretty good milestone. Back in the day, that used to be like a different pension level, so that was the big goal – get to 400 games. It's changed since then. It's something I've been looking forward to the last probably couple years. You try and stay healthy and you never know with your contract status and all that.
“You get up there a little bit in the high (800s) and you start to think it's a possibility. You have to stay healthy and have good fortune and be in the right situation. I don't know. It's good. It's going to be like unwrapping a birthday present, kind of. And then the day after you'll be like, 'Huh.' Now you've just got to keep going.
“ You spent so long – you spend the first four or five years of your career trying to lock up a spot in the league and try to prove to everybody that you can play and that you're worthy of them getting you another contract and worthy of them investing time and energy into you. That's enough of a battle. Once you get over that hump and you've proved you can play, then it's a question of just being able to play that long and staying healthy. You play with great teammates that help you stay in the game and play well on the ice but keep you entertained off the ice and keep you fresh coming to the rink every day.”

Giroux back this week? Starting to look that way

DENVER - Claude Giroux spent 90 minutes on the Pepsi Center ice practicing Monday. The last hour of that was skating hard with other scratches, injured players and assistant coaches.

When he came off the ice, he was in a jovial mood - perhaps the best mood he's been in since before suffering a concussion Dec. 10.

He says he's symptom-free. He says he feels good. He says he's close to getting back to where he can take contact at practice from teammates.

And with each step he's getting closer to playing.

"I just want to test myself and see where I'm at," Giroux said. "If there's no symptoms I don't see why I shouldn't push myself to see where I'm at. I had a good skate today.

"I told myself when I went back on the ice I wasn't going to do it to just cruise around the ice. If I go back it's because I want to skate hard and that's what I'm trying to do. I'm still going day-by-day. I have two more days before (Dallas). If I'm ready to go then I'm ready to go. If not, then the Rangers (Friday) is good, and if not than after Christmas."

But almost certainly, he'll play in the Winter Classic Jan 2, and likely before then.

Giroux wasn't the only player skating long and hard after practice. So was Andreas Lilja, who is eligible to come off the long-term injury list Wednesday in Dallas.

And then there was Erik Gustafsson, who practiced with the team for the first time since left wrist surgery in November.

Gustafsson said he is still more than a week away.

Jody Shelley and Kevin Marshall also are scratches, meaning Matt Walker and Tom Sestito will be in the lineup, joining callup Ben Holmstrom as the three new faces since Saturday's game.

Ilya Bryzgalov will get the start in net.

Look for more here later tonight on a homecoming from Holmstrom, a clever nickname for Marc-Andre Bourdon, a look at Matt Carle and what he's meant to the Flyers without Chris Pronger and an item on Scott Hartnell embracing the #Hartnelldown counter on Twitter and putting it toward charity.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Giroux practices, could play soon

DENVER-- Claude Giroux practiced with the Flyers today, although he was wearing the yellow jersey that stood for no contact.

Still, Giroux took part in the entire practice and looked good. The question though is, how did he feel?

I'll let him tell you:

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Just 31 games into the season, I have to admit I was wrong about something.

Sorry, I should have warned you to sit down before I said that.

Anyway, in my preseason predictions, I selected the Buffalo Sabres as the best team in the Northeast Division ahead of Boston.

My rationale was the Sabres had made some nice upgrades to an already good team and that coupled with what was sure to be a Stanley Cup hangover for Boston would equate to them switching positions in the division.

So, when Boston got off to a sluggish start, I was feeling pretty smart.

Now, I'm going to take that fleeting feeling of intelligence and correct my mistake:

These Bruins are very, very good.

I don't just say that because they came into Philadelphia today and walloped the Flyers 6-0 in a game that was for first place in the Eastern Conference.

No. I say that because I am certain that this 18-2-1 run after a 3-7-0 start is legit and should be taken as a sign that they aren't going to give up the Cup easily.

As a matter of fact, I may have to change my Eastern Conference champion prediction (Pittsburgh), but I'll wait a little longer to correct that possible error in judgement.

Here's the thing with Boston - everyone talks about their size and their defense and their goaltending, but they are a very fast team. They out-skated the Flyers considerably Saturday - and the Flyers have made their own bones in the East this season with their speed and pursuit.

Boston looked twice as fast.

Of course, the defense is still there. Zdeno Chara is a hammer. It's a shame the Flyers lost faith in Dennis Seidenberg, because he's as solid as they come.

And what more can you say about Tim Thomas? He might be Benjamin Button, because he's getting better, quicker and more complete as he ages.

As much as you have to like where the Flyers are right now, especially with five concussed players out of the lineup and Andreas Lilja recovering from a high ankle sprain, you have to wonder even if they were completely healthy if they could beat this Boston team in a seven-game series.

Right now, I don't believe they can.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bourdon the latest rookie to impress

His call-up was unheralded. As a matter of fact, it was probably decried in many circles.

After having waived Matt Walker and Oskars Bartulis to the minors, the Flyers were short on defensive depth - or so was the common belief.

But in the short time that he's been here, Marc-Andre Bourdon has proven the commoners to be just that.

Bourdon scored his first NHL goal Tuesday as part of a thorough 5-1 thrashing of the directionless Washington Capitals - but has made a name for himself in other ways over the last several games.

"Over the last few games I think he's played like an NHL player, not a rookie," Kimmo Timonen said. "He's made some really good choices with the puck and without the puck. As an older guy I watch a lot of younger guys coming into the league and these are some of the things you watch. If they can't do them, it's going to be hard for them to have a long career. BUt once guys start making good plays, every time almost, and position-wise be in the right place all the time - these are things you cannot teach. It's hockey sense. He has it. He's going to have a long career."

That's high praise for Bourdon from one of the better defensemen of the past decade - and Timonen wasn't alone in his thinking and assessment.

"He's been rock solid," coach Peter Laviolette said. "His head is up. He makes a good first pass. He's physical. He looks really comfortable out there. His opportunity (to play in the NHL) has gone from some minutes, to increased minutes to someone that we count on and rely on. That's good for him and I'm happy for him... He's played terrific. He gets his first goal. There are a lot of positives."


Some observations:

- Tomas Vokoun was terrible. He's not normally this bad, but it's games like this, when the team is scuffling, that you need your goalie to at least give an effort that keeps the team in the game to help them get out of the funk. Vokoun was not good, letting in four goals,all of which he probably could have stopped, despite some deflections.

- Alexander Semin is a real problem child on the ice for the Caps. He looks disinterested.If these stuggles continue, he could be the big name that gets traded.

- Dale Hunter's trapping style does not fit this Washington team. It's weird seeing them not attack relentlessly on the forecheck. That's what made them so dangerous in the past. Their problem was they didn't have great defense or goaltending. They've improved in those areas but have hurt their offensive game considerably in the process.

- Really liked the play of the Flyers defense as a whole. They shut down Washington, and when they didn't, Ilya Bryzgalov was solid in net.

Statistical happenings:

- Scott Hartnell's six-game goal-scoring streak (career high) is the longest for the Flyers since Jeff Carter scored in six straight in 2010. It also ties Nashville's Patrick Hornqvist for the longest goal-scoring streak in the NHL this season.

- Hartnell's career-best point streak is seven games, which he can match with a goal or an assist in Montreal Thursday.

- Wayne Simmonds set a career best by scoring in his third straight game.

- Jody Shelley's assist was his first point since Jan. 14, snapping a drought of 30 games.

- The Flyers improved to 11-3-1 on the road this season which, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is the first time they have ever recorded 11 wins in their first 15 road contests. The franchise record for road victories is 24, set in 2002-03.The Flyers are on pace (30) to shatter that mark.

What a headache! Giroux the latest Flyer with a concussion

After getting kneed in the back of the head by his own teammate Saturday, Claude Girox met with team doctors. He later told general manager Paul Holmgren he was already feeling better.

Sunday came an update that he was progressing and feeling better.

Monday brought similar news, although the Flyers also announced they were taking precautions and that Giroux would miss a game - tonight in Washington.

Still, things were looking up, as Holmgren released a statement Monday afternoon that started with "Claude is continuing to feel better..."

Then came Tuesday, and this bombshell from the team:

"Claude reported not feeling very good today," Holmgren said in yet another statement. "Over the past few days, his symptoms have gradually gotten worse. He will be out indefinitely with a concussion."

First the captain, and stalwart defenseman Chris Pronger. Then uber-rookie Brayden Schenn, now Giroux, battling for the league scoring title through 28 games and having his name tossed about as a Hart Trophy candidate - all saddled with concussions - or concussion-like symptoms in Pronger's case - and all out of the lineup indefinitely.

“The guys have responded well to everything in general, I guess,” said coach Peter Laviolette, who while maintaining a stoic exterior is likely kicking chairs and cursing his luck on the inside. “Whether it’s schedule or injury or youth or change, whatever it might be. The guys we put into the lineup have gone out and played hard every night. We haven’t won every game. Certainly, there’s been a consistent effort.”

That there has, and the Flyers take their five-game win streak and put it on the line tonight against an inconsistent Washington team without their two most important players.

But, if there's one thing this Flyers team has been, it's resilient, and that can go a long way toward success - consider last season's Pittsburgh Penguins finished tied with the Flyers point-wise atop the Atlantic Division and did so without their two best players -Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin - for much of the season.

“It’s been awesome,” said Jody Shelley of the way the Flyers have responded to adversity. Shelley, by the way, returns to the lineup tonight. “All teams want to have that. All teams wonder what happens when you’re down. What happens when things are bad and guys are missing. We haven’t spent any time thinking or talking about it as far as Pronger and now Giroux and things like that. That’s just a test of our system and our young energy, I guess. Almost like an ignorance to even spend time looking at that.

“I’ve said it before. The 20 guys wearing the Philadelphia Flyers jersey are representing the organization and we play one way and we’re going to do it again. We don’t sit here and look for a crutch. … Since the first moment in camp, it’s been ‘wow, where did this guy come from?’ Or this guys impresses tonight, this week or this month. You have a situation where you have guys waiting to jump into a spot. And show what they got. Look at Couturier. He’s been waiting on the fourth line, he’s got great talent. He’s done a great job. Now he gets an opportunity."

As for Giroux, unlike Pronger, who is seeing the same specialists who treated Crosby at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center tomorrow, Giroux will continue to be treated and evaluated by the Flyers doctors - at least for now.

That could mean that the symptoms aren't as bad as Pronger's, and a more expedited return could be possible, but that's speculative.

Meanwhile the Flyers will try to keep on keeping on against the Capitals with Ilya Bryzgalov back between the pipes tonight.

Look for more on the game, the return of Jody Shelley and what he means to the Flyers as well as the latest on all the concussions here on this blog or on Twitter @AnthonySan37

Friday, December 9, 2011

Oh... so NOW Chris Pronger has concussion symptoms

We knew it when the word "virus" first came out of Paul Holmgren's lips.

We knew it when we saw Chris Pronger doing an off-ice work out a few days later - because nobody with a nasty contagion would put his teammates at risk of catching the same illness by hanging around them in the Petri dish better known as a hockey locker room.

We knew it when Pronger first spoke to the media following the announcement of the virus and he debunked that diagnosis and said it wasn't a virus.

We knew.

The Flyers just chose not to acknowledge it - until today.

Pronger, who was already on the shelf until Christmas recovering from a minor surgery to clean out some loose bodies in his left knee, is now out of the lineup indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms.

Pronger will now see concussion specialists Dr. Joe Maroon and Dr. Mickey Collins, both of whom are based in Pittsburgh.

If the names sound familiar, they are - they are the same docs who dealt with Sidney Crosby's concussion and post-concussion symptoms.

And if their track record with precaution is any indication - it could be a good while before the Flyers captain returns to the ice.

Pronger did pass a baseline test recently, but that is no longer a tried and true indicator of whether a player has recovered.

Baseline tests compare your score post head trauma to a similar test taken pre-trauma, however, many athletes throw the initial test to have a lower cognitive score to attain while possibly dealing with a concussion.

"Over the last few days he's had some difficulties," Holmgren said. "A fairly persistent headache, just sluggish feeling - so we're just trying to do the right thing here and get him checked out."

Holmgren still wouldn't call the injury a concussion, saying "I don't know that we know that," but he sure had no problem calling this malady a virus, even though there's a far better chance of it being a concussion then there ever was it being a virus.

"I don't know that we'll ever know that (it wasn't a virus)," Holmgren said. "We didn't know what we were dealing with then and I'm not sure we do now."

The immediate reaction is to assume these symptoms are related to the eye injury he suffered in October, but Holmgren was quick to temper that belief too.

"He played four games after that particular incident after missing some time," Holmgren said. "I talked to him after the game in Winnipeg and he said he didn't feel great in that game. He didn't feel like himself...

"Just over the last two or three days he's got a fairly persistent headache and a really sluggish feeling."

Brayden Schenn, who is in the middle of a rookie year that he'd like to forget, is also out indefinitely with a mild concussion suffered, who took a blow to the face in Phoenix last week and said he doesn't feel like himself.

The Flyers aren't in a rush to add another defenseman, but Holmgren admitted that he talks to GM's all the time, so something could always "pop up" at any time.

But if it turns into a long-term thing....

"We'll see what happens over the next little while," Holmgren said. Hopefully we'll get some better news after Chris visits the doctors in Pittsburgh and we'll see what happens from there."

Monday, November 28, 2011


After missing the last four games with a virus, Flyers captain Chris Pronger will now need surgery on his left knee.

O.K., so maybe one doesn't have much to do with the other, but the latest injury - and fourth surgery for Pronger in less than a year's time - will keep him out of action for at least another month - putting his appearance in the Winter Classic in question.

Of course, the way injuries are going for Pronger at age 37, maybe he should start considering returning for the alumni game.

All rim shots aside, this is not a palatable predicament in which the Flyers find themselves.

Pronger has already missed time this season with an eye injury and a virus and now this knee issue, that seemed to come out of the blue a little bit.

"This has been an issue probably for the last month or so for him that's been nagging," general manager Paul Holmgren said in making the announcement. "He's been playing through it up until his recent bout with his virus. We had believed that through continued rehabilitation and some medicine that it would start to feel better, but Chris saw the doctor yesterday, had another MRI and we just decided that this was the time to go and get this taken care of."

Pronger has what Holmgren termed as "loose bodies" in his left knee that are causing him pain and discomfort. While saying that anytime any player has surgery, there is a concern from an organizational standpoint, Holmgren feels confident that this is a minor surgery that won't affect Pronger long-term despite his age.

"The structure of his knee is fine," Holmgren said. "He's got good cartilage on both sides of that knee, so this is just kind of a maintenance thing more than anything and to get him a little more comfortable.

"We're worried because he's (having) surgery, yes, but long-term I still think Chris has a lot of miles left on his body, and based on his attitude about this and the way he takes care of himself and prepares, I think he'll be fine."

Holmgren insisted Pronger would have been playing in the games he missed despite the knee injury if it weren't for the virus zapping his health.

"The reason he missed games was because of the virus," Holmgren said. "This (knee situation)came up just recently - (Sunday) - and we decided the best way to attack this is with surgery now. He'd been missing games with the virus. It had nothing to do with the knee."

The Flyers are likely going have to pursue the possibility of trading for a veteran defenseman this week, as the team isn't comfortable going a hefty segment of the season with Phantoms call ups Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall (who is being recalled).

Holmgren added that Pronger and Andreas Lilja (high ankle sprain) will both be placed on the long-term injury list, which means they must miss a minimum of 10 games or 25 days, whichever comes first.

Couple that with the placing of forward Andreas Nodl on waivers and the Flyers suddenly have a lot of salary allowance to play with.

The Flyers now have $4,261,767 in available space, and that's after recalling Marshall and Brayden Schenn, who is ready to return to the lineup from his broken left foot.

If Nodl is claimed on waivers or sent back to the Phantoms, the Flyers cap space would creep up over $5 million.

That means the Flyers could, in fact, acquire a significant salary, and not just a stopgap defenseman - if there were one available on the trade front.

"We're talking about a lot of things here," Holmgren said. "I think initially we'll probably just recall Kevin and try to figure out where we're at."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


What a dreadful loss by the Flyers to Carolina Monday. They had no jump, no energy.

Yeah, they were missing Chris Pronger and Braydon Coburn, but that's no excuse to be miserable.

Speaking of Coburn, it's always fun guessing injuries with the Flyers.

Right now they're calling it an Upper Body injury that will cause Coburn to miss 1-2 games tops.

But what is the upper body injury?

Immediate speculation was a head injury/concussion.

Some nice research by Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News uncovered that Coburn was hit twice in the game against Winnipeg, the last time coming in the third period. Coburn skated off the ice within seconds of the hit, and then rested for a full four minutes of game action - his longest stretch of the season. He then finished four minutes below his season average of ice time.

Combine that with Paul Holmgren saying he can skate, but hasn't been cleared for contact and it sure sounds like a concussion.

However, I spoke with a Flyers source via text message last night who said simply, "it's not a concussion... it's a lot lower on the body than that."


What I do know is the Flyers are hoping Coburn can be back by Friday, if not Wednesday. Ditto for Pronger.

One report had sources saying it was a bruised kidney, but that there was no internal organ damage.

Considering the location of the kidneys, calling the injury "upper body" would be somewhat misleading, if, in fact, that is the injury Coburn sustained.

Can we ask the NHL to create a "middle body injury" classification?

Tomorrow's practice will be a lot more telling and revealing.

For now, here's some video of me and Dave Isaac of talking about the loss to Carolina:

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Jaromir Jagr got hurt. Nobody saw what happened. It happened on the second shift of the game. The Flyers are calling it a lower body injury. One report is calling it a groin injury.

One former player suggested jokingly that it was a veteran move by Jagr since the Flyers are headed to Winnipeg - an undesirable location.

But, in all seriousness, if it is a groin tweak, it shouldn't keep him out longer than that and he should rejoin the team Monday against the Hurricanes.

He did not travel with the team to Winnipeg, so he's out for Saturday's game.

As for Bryzgalov: good for him that he took the high road and didn't go off on his former teammates in return after they ripped him.

Our friends at got a transcription of the interviews by Derek Morris and Adrian Aucoin about Ilya Bryzgalov.

However, I can tell you Bryzgalov was bothered by it. I spoke with him after the interview session along with a few other writers, and he was still shrugging it off, but you can tell it was bugging him too.

A lot of people came to his defense, including GM Paul Holmgren.

Q: A couple of the Phoenix players took some shots about Bryz; what kind of person he is, and the goal keeping he has been doing, do you feel like that is sort of like a low blow?

A: “We love Bryz. He’s a huge part of this team, and a great person. Whatever other people say, who cares?”

Q: He looked good tonight too, like he was himself and had that confidence, is that how you felt?

A: “Yeah, we never lose any faith in him. He’s our guy, and when we can play a full game and help him out, then we can be really good.”

As for Zac Rinaldo, he was given a penalty for "inciting" tonight. Never head of that before, but it's in the rule book under 75.4(iii).

Rinaldo, who is tied for the league lead in penalty minutes with Ottawa's Zenon Konopka, didn't react well to the call though: