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, October 30, 2008


Let me step away from the world of hockey for a minute and switch over to baseball.

Let me briefly put aside my media persona and revert back to being the Philadelphia fan I grew up being.

It really feels good.

I love the sport of hockey, but it always took a backseat for me to baseball. Everything took a backseat to baseball. In a lot of ways these days, things still take a backseat to baseball.

So, to spend Oct. 29, 2008, a day that will never be forgotten in Philadelphia, with family and friends was as special as it can get.

And it was a blessing in so many ways.

Consider Game 5 started Monday, while I was in Atlanta with the Flyers. Sitting at a hotel bar with Ed Moran of the Philadelphia Daily News was nice and all, but it wasn't home.

But then, things swung in my favor. The rain. The never-ending rain, suspended the game.

It was rescheduled for Tuesday, again while I was in Atlanta. Peering out the corner of my eye while trying to watch a Flyers' game hundreds of miles from home would have been the least ideal situation of all.

Then, the rain canceled the game for another night.

At that point, I felt selfishly, that this was all meant to be for me.

Last night, after finishing my daily Flyers story, I was fortunate enough to be able to go to my cousin's house for an abbreviated party.

The weirdest thing about the party was, I was the oldest person there. That's rare for me. I'm used to being one of the youngest guys in a group. But not last night. No, last night I was the only person able to remember not only the last Philadelphia championship (Sixers 1983) but the last Phillies championship (1980).

It was a house full of late 20-somethings who have never known a championship, at least not since they were toddlers.

But the most important person there was my 12-year-old son.

Because of a cursed schedule, Anthony Jr. was forced to watch each of the first 4 1/2 games elsewhere than with dad. But not this night.

When Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske, he jumped into my arms screaming euphorically. I tacked him onto the couch. My cousins spilled out into the front yard spraying champagne all over one another.

Anthony and I were still inside, and he looked at me and said, "I'm so happy that I could watch this with you."

Let me be honest - the tears flowed. It was a combination of 28 years of baseball failure with the good fortune of being able to have one of those father-son moments that will never be forgotten - by neither father nor son.

I only wish my six-year old son and my eight-year-old daughter were with us to celebrate too, but when I saw their smiling faces this morning, they ran at me and tackled me in my kitchen saying, "Phillies win, Phillies win." That at least filled the void of all the hugging and kissing without them 10 hours earlier.

But back to last night. Just celebrating the win by feeling the sticky champagne dripping down our necks wasn't enough. We needed to celebrate - with the people of Philadelphia.

Remember, these are my people. I grew up in the city. They represent my roots.
We piled into my cousin Kevin's Hummer and drove to Broad Street. We parked near Chickie's and Pete's and paraded ourselves down Broad Street into South Philly.

When we reached Broad and Shunk, we had to stop. There were thousands of people dancing in the streets. You couldn't move.

And as wild as the partying was - fireworks being shot off every five minutes, street signs being ripped out of the ground, fans climbing traffic light stands and being pelted with full cans of beer - nothing was more surreal then seeing many of the same guys I grew up with suddenly appear out of nowhere.

There they were, guys from my youth who celebrated with me on Oct. 22, 1980 at Granahan Playground in Overbrook prior to going to school at St. Donato's after the Phillies won the night before, all marching down Broad Street in a sea of red.

There was Rocco, and Meemo, and Pigeon and Louie and Trongo all hugging, high-fiving, and reveling in the moment.

At one point, I looked down at Anthony, who was wide-eyed taking the scene all in. He said, "Dad, this is nuts."

I just smiled. I knew then it would be a story he told the rest of his life. And I was glad I could write it for him. For once, while not sitting behind a keyboard.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Losing Danny Briere is going to be tough for the Flyers to overcome.

However, one way they can give it a whirl is by trying to be more defense-oriented.

That's a difficult task, considering the Flyers allowed 29 goals in their first six games.

However, plugging Glen Metropolit into the top line center position between Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne just might turn the trick - at least until Briere returns healthy.

See, Metropolit is a defense first guy who will allow Gagne and Knuble to take a few more chances on the offensive end without having to worry about being the first forward back defensively.

But, he's also a refreshing change of pace in the faceoff circle where the Flyers have been woeful this season. Against New Jersey, Mike Richards only won 39 percent of his draws and Jeff Carter only 31 percent of his.

Meanwhile Metropolit clicked on 57 percent of his draws, and really played strong on the forecheck, especially in the second period of Friday's 6-3 win over the Devils.

"He's got good composure with the puck and he can take pucks down the ice, distribute it and create on the attack, said coach John Stevens. "He did a great job filling in there tonight and his job will be to do the little things well like win faceoffs and kill penalties. I thought he did his job to a tee tonight."

So, until Briere comes back, it'll be Metropolit taking on a bigger responsibility, and a cagey veteran like him should be up for the challenge.


Danny Briere has a torn abdominal muscle, or sports hernia as is the modern parlance, and will be lost for about a month.

This is a major blow to the Flyers, who are already missing two defensemen with long-term injuries (three if you count Derian Hatcher) and have not won a game to date.

More on this later, but this Flyers season is in grave danger of completely unraveling as it did two seasons ago.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Late news from the Flyers locker room as minutes before game time, Simon Gagne was scratched with the flu.

It is not yet known who will replace him, but considering the Flyers have no extra forwards at the moment, it looks like they'll dress seven defensemen and possibly use Lasse Kukkonen as a forward.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Sorry I've been away the past few days, but since I didn't go to San Jose and the Flyers had a day off, I had nothing to offer in the way of the Flyers until I was back with them.

Here are some thoughts on the roster moves.

Steve Downie really wasn't being given a chance to play with the Flyers, and it seemed every time he did hit the ice, he was either making a crucial turnover or he was taking a bad penalty.

Either way, Downie needs a lot of ice time, and the only place he can get that is with the Phantoms.

Barring an injury to a top nine forward on the Flyers, I think Downie will be with the Phantoms for a while.

As for Nodl, he was very impressive in training camp. He looked like a player who was positionally smart and could provide some good offense from time to time.

He'll play with Jeff Carter and Scottie Upshall, we'll see what he brings to the table.

Nodl, 21, was a second round pick by the Flyers in the 2006 draft. He is Austrian, but you wouldn't know it, as he sounds like a kid who grew up in North America. He did attend college at St. Cloud St, where he was one of the better offensive players, averaging more than a point a game.

"It's very exciting," he said. "I plan to come in, work hard, and see what happens. I just want to come in and help as much as I can. I'm going to keep it simple, dump the puck in deep, go to work and forecheck hard."

Nodl won't be able to fly in his parents from Austria to see his NHL debut, but did say if he sticks around, he'd like to get them to come to a game soon.

"They told me how long I stay depends on how I play. If I don't make mistakes and play solid... it's good for my confidence. You always think you can make the team, it's hard to crack the lineup, but now I have the chance. I'm playing with two great guys and I'm going to have to do something while I'm up here or I'll be sent down again."


I feel bad for Downie, but I need to pass along this little incident from Denver that was pretty funny.

After the game, one that the Flyers would like to forget, I was with the other beat reporters talking to Mike Richards when all of the sudden from the training room came this:


Whoever it was, they sounded like they were in immense pain. We couldn't tell who was injured, because the Flyers training staff deftly had the curtain drawn so as the wandering eyes of the media couldn't see (You're onto us Jimmy McCrossin!!!!)

Anyway, being the curious sleuths we are, we proceeded to spend the next several days trying to find out who exactly was hurting, but we were e-mailed by general manager Paul Holmgren saying there are no new injuries to report.

We didn't believe him.

So we started snooping around. A few players offered to investigate. But then, McCrossin himself came down the hall and told the story.

Turns out Downie, who is still recovering from an MCL strain in his left knee, was getting a little electric stimulation on his knee after the game. Downie started goofing off with the levels of the stimulator, and accidentally turned it up too high.

His muscles were being shocked. He dropped the controller and couldn't turn it off. He screamed for McCrossin to help him. Everyone in the trainer's room got a good laugh.

Poor Steve.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I have a special treat for the readers of my blog on the Delaware County Daily Times Web site.

Each week (usually on Saturdays, but not until after the Phillies win the World Series) I will have a special guest blogger from the Flyers past, present or future.

The unique thing about these blogs will be that they have very little to nothing to do with hockey.

Instead, it will offer an opportunity for you the fan and reader to get to know these people on a different level other than hockey.

For our test run, Scottie Upshall was kind enough to be the guinea pig. He will give you all a detailed description of his entry into this past summer’s World Poker Tour Main Event at the Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City.

Take it away Scottie.

Thanks Anthony.

Hello Flyers’ fans. What’s happening? I just wanted to take this opportunity to share a little bit with you about my experience playing in a major poker tournament this past summer.

The idea came up and was brought to my attention about a week prior to the tournament. It was a Sunday Morning and the tournament started at 11 a.m. I left my house about 9 a.m. I brought a pair of jeans and a couple t-shirts with me thinking if I’m here for more than a couple hours I might need a change of clothes. I also brought a toothbrush – in case I needed to stay overnight. I really wasn’t expecting much knowing I was going in to play against professionals and all that. I play cards and poker is something I always love to do, I just didn’t realistically put myself in that situation.

I went there and it was run so well. The Borgata looked after my entry fee ($10,000) and told me if I made any money, I didn’t have to cash it out and that I could give it directly to charity. They thought it was a good opportunity for them to publicize that a Philadelphia Flyer was there playing.

I played against (2006 World Series of Poker winner) Jamie Gold. I sat at a table with him on Day 2 for about 10 hours. I played against Nam Lee, who from what I’ve been told from all the writers in the poker business is one of the top three tournament poker players in the world. I also played with Joseph Sebok, but there were professionals all over the poker room. Everyone you sat down and played with if you asked if they had any hobbies it was always poker, poker, poker, online poker, poker and more poker. They live and breathe cards and calculating different hands.

Not me. I look at my hole cards and say “all right, these are either good or bad.” I play what I got dealt. Come time that I have to make moves whether I was pushing or bluffing or had a strong hand that’s it. I don’t think about all that other stuff.

The tournament went really well. I played some good cards and got to play against some great players both days I was there. The whole event and the whole experience was pretty cool.

The top 54 players cashed and I went out 52nd. Above my buy in I made an additional $5,000. Therefore I was able to donate $15,000 to both charities I am affiliated with – the Flyers’ Wives Fight For Lives as well as the Kids Forever foundation that I do back home (in Fort McMurray, Alberta – a charitable organization I helped create along with Chris Phillips of the Ottawa Senators that is dedicated to providing financial help to local families whose children have been diagnosed with unfortunate illness).

I went out with a hand of Queen-10 suited. I was sitting next to the dealer (button) so I was in great position. One of the blinds limped in. I hit a 10 on the flop and I raised half my chip stack. The other player put me all-in. He had Ace-King. He hit a King on fourth street and I was demolished after that.

I have been playing poker for about five years now - ever since I turned pro in hockey. Poker is a good game to kill time and more or less have guys mingling and have some bragging rights. We keep track here, with some rankings and stuff throughout the year. The games get pretty good. There’s really not a lot of money involved, it’s more about getting the guys together on road trips and killing time on the plane. It’s fun.

The best poker player last season was Scott Hartnell. During the season I was ahead slightly and he fell just short of me, but during the playoffs he had a couple of big trips and I had a steady decline, so he finished one and I finished two. After us, Kimmo Timonen is a solid player. (Former Flyer) Jimmy Dowd can fire the cards around a little bit and Joffrey Lupul has a lot of potential, he just hasn’t brought out his “A” game yet.

That’s it for me. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and I’ll see you on the ice.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Some observations from the Flyers' frustrating 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh Tuesday:

1. Mike Richards is not a happy captain - nor should he be. Tired of the team being satisfied with a solid effort but coming up short, Richards challenged his team to find a way to win by saying no matter how well the team plays, good teams find ways to get victories.

The silent, unspoken part of that comment is inconsistent teams find ways to lose, and right now, the Flyers are wildly inconsistent.

Richards has a certain moxie about him already that usually develops over time in the best leaders. He has what Keith Primeau had. He has what Dave Poulin had. Most importantly, he has what Bobby Clarke had.

He holds his teammates accountable for their own performances and actions. There will not be a 10-game losing streak this season like there was last season.

2. Antero Niittymaki should start Thursday in Denver against the Avalanche. He has outplayed Marty Biron to start the season and deserves another shot. That doesn't mean I think Niittymaki should supplant Biron as the starter. It just means that he's playing well and deserves another start. Biron can get back in there Saturday in San Jose.

3. Evgeni Malkin gets away with murder. He can do whatever he wants on the ice. Really. In the third period, Malkin broke his stick on a shot from the point during a power play. He had to play defense without it and as Mike Richards came down the wing, Malkin clawed Richards' face with his glove and didn't let go. No penalty was called, but Richards has a heck of a scratch on his cheek as evidence.

4. Riley Cote and Eric Godard treated us all to a classic fight that went on for more than a minute. Each side landed a few big punches. It was scored a draw by the fight experts in the press box. Without gooning it up, more of these kinds of tussles are needed in the NHL.

5. Luca Sbisa is fearless. It appears his favorite thing to do is to lead a rush up ice, dump the puck into the zone, and then chase it himself, usually crunching an opponent's defenseman against the boards - or knocking himself silly - or both. Gotta love this kid.

6. Danny Briere took the game off. Mike Knuble's ice time was limited a bit after he was replaced on the power play by Sbisa. Steve Downie was rooted to the bench, playing just a couple of minutes. Something's not right here. For a kid who is suppossed to be a versatile prospect, he sure seems like someone John Stevens doesn't want on the ice all that often.

Talk to you from Denver.

Monday, October 13, 2008


In desperate need of some size on the blue line, the Flyers traded for 6-5, 220-pound bruiser Andrew Alberts from Boston. In exchange, the Flyers sent the Bruins minor league forward Ned Lukacevic and a conditional 2009 draft pick. If Alberts re-signs with the Flyers at the end of the season, the Flyers owe Boston a third round pick, if not, they owe Boston a fourth round pick. Alberts, 27, is in the final year of a two-year $2.5 million contract. $1.25 million will count against the Flyers salary cap. From the press release:

Alberts appeared in 35 regular season games for the Bruins last season, recording two assists and 39 penalty minutes. He was also scoreless in two playoff games for Boston. He missed 47 games due to injury with post-concussion symptoms following a hit in the game at Philadelphia on November 26.

The hit was the cheap shot Scott Hartnell planted on him in a game in Philadelphia last November. Hartnell was suspended two games for the hit. Now the two are teammates. That oughta be fun.

Here's a link to the video:

Hartnell buries Alberts

Over parts of three NHL seasons (2005-06 through 2007-08), Alberts has registered one goal and 18 assists for 19 points and 231 penalty minutes in 184 regular season games. He led the Bruins in penalty minutes during the 2006-07 season with 124.

A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Alberts played four seasons (2001-02 through 2004-05) for the Boston College Eagles of the Hockey East Conference, recording 16 goals and 50 assists for 66 points and 243 penalty minutes in 149 games. He was named to NCAA East First All-American Team twice (2003-04 and 2004-05), the Hockey East First All-Conference Team following the 2004-05 season and shared Hockey East’s Best Defensive Defenseman Award for the 2003-04 season.

He was originally drafted by Boston in the sixth round (179th overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

Alberts won't play tonight against Montreal, but he will be in the building.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Opening night for the Flyers has been overshadowed by Republican Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin dropping the first puck.

Arguments have ensued from the press box to the crowd in the Wachovia Center as to whether or not she should have been brought in for such an photo opportunity.

That's another argument for another time, but I wanted to pass along a doctored photo that gave me a little chuckle.

Here it is....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


As has been reported all week, rookie defenseman Luca Sbisa will start the season on the Philadelphia Flyers roster.

Ryan Parent, who will undergo shoulder surgery and be placed on the long-term injury list.

The Flyers submitted their initial 23-man roster to the league earlier this afternoon.

Here is that roster:

Forwards (13)

Centers: Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Glen Metropolit, Steve Downie, Darroll Powe
Left Wings: Simon Gagne, Scottie Upshall, Joffrey Lupul, Riley Cote
Right Wings: Danny Briere, Mike Knuble, Scott Hartnell, Aaron Asham

Defensemen (7)

Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Randy Jones, Luca Sbisa, Steve Eminger, Ossi Vaananen, Lasse Kukkonen

Goalies (3)

Marty Biron, Antero Niittymaki, Jean-Sebastian Aubin

It may seem curious that the Flyers are carrying three goalies, but it should only be temporary. Aubin has a two-way contract and will most likely be sent to the Phantoms.

More on this in tomorrow's edition of the Daily Times.


Get this.....

Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the famous hockey mom who is also the governor of Alaska, will drop the first puck Saturday when the Flyers face the New York Rangers.

“Because of the tremendous amount of publicity she has brought to our sport, we invited the most popular hockey mom in North America to our home opener to help us get our season started,” said Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider. “We are very excited she has accepted our offer and we are very proud of the publicity she is generating for hockey moms and the sport of hockey.”


Former Flyer Ben Eager was suspended for three games to start the season after swinging his stick at Dallas Stars' pest Sean Avery in a preseason game.

Eager was seated on the bench and swung at Avery as he skated by. He missed Avery, thus the three games. If he hit him, it would have been alot more.

Eager was always a chucklehead. This doesn't surprise.


The Flyers have a couple of unique items up for auction through

The first in an antique desk used by both Bob Clarke and Paul Holmgren from the Flyers' general manager's office.

It's not quite the resolute desk that sits in the White House and was a key part of the movie "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," but it's still a pretty cool item.

The other item is a pair of autographed work boots.

The work boots were awarded to the player of the game from each Flyers victory last season as determined by the players. Each time a player was given the work boots, he autographed them and carried them in his bag until the next win.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Defenseman Ryan Parent will miss a significant amount of time to start the season, requiring shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said.

Parent will be sidelined 3-4 months with the injury.

Holmgren did not update the status of rookie defenseman Luca Sbisa, although it is expected he will at least start the season with the Flyers.


Now that the season is upon us, it is nearing the time for predictions and prognostications.

I will have a full NHL preview coming Thursday, as well as a Flyers team breakdown and season preview coming Friday - be sure to check both the online and print editions of the Delaware County Daily Times for that content.

But, while we have a moment, I thought I'd take a quick look around the Atlantic Division and see that the Flyers may be the team best suited to win the Division this season, despite taking, in my opinion, a small step backward in the talent department from last season.

The division will always be tough, but it's not as potent as it was a season ago. Not even close. For now anyway.

Pittsburgh is in trouble on the back end. Losing both Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney with long-term injuries is crippling to the Pens, who are already trying to replace the great production of Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone with a couple New York Islander castofs in Ruslan Fedotenko and Miroslav Satan.

The Pens will be fine come April, and at that time should again be the favorite in the East, no matter what their seeding might be, but they will struggle to accumulate enough points in the regular season to win the division.

The Rangers meanwhile have a superstar goalie with a mystery injury and although they improved on defense adding veterans Wade Reddena n Dimitri Kalinen, they lost so much up front it's scary. Markus Naslund is in the twilight of his career and along with Nikolai Zherdev can in no way replicate Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan.

The Devils are still the Devils, but they are the ageing Devils. Their biggest moves in the offseason was bringing back several players who won the Cup with them in 2000. Not exactly a youth movement. They'll still be tough, but I'm not sure they have the requisite energy to compete for a spot atop the division.

As for the Iles - they're not going to be as bad as a lot of people think, but they are very green and need time to develop together. As a result, a division crown is out of the picture.

That leaves the Flyers, who have mega questions on the blue line. But, they are the deepest team up front (when Joffrey Lupul - a 30-35 goal threat when healthy has to play on your third line, that's telling you something) and with the rapid maturation of Mike Richards first from breakout player now to team captain - expect a run at the Hart Trophy (you heard it hear first!) - the Flyers might be able to play on par with last season and be the best team in a weakened division.

I guess we'll all start finding out or sure Saturday.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Here's a quick story for you.

My hockey writing colleague Wayne Fish from the Bucks County Courier was attending his final game at Yankee Stadium in June on the same night as the first round of the NHL Draft.

It was the only game he could get tickets to and since he grew up a Yankees fan, he wasn't going to miss it for the world.

In a bit of a pickle, he came to me for a bit of assistance. He asked that I call him when the Flyers made their first round pick, or if they did anything else of substance.

It was only the third inning when I called him about the R.J. Umberger trade, forcing him to leave the game and head for the parking lot to write from his car.

I called him back when they drafted Luca Sbisa. Then, I called him a third time. I think I said this:

"I can't believe the Flyers just traded a first round pick to Washington for Steve Eminger. He was a healthy scratch for 60 games last season!! What the (sorry, it's a family blog) where they thinking?"

And while the jury is still out on Eminger, I must admit, I'm starting to come around on the deal.

Eminger looks quick, is a right hand shot, which is both rare and coveted in a defenseman, is a smooth skater, is patient with the puck and has a nice hard shot from the point.

It might be enough to make him their, gulp, No. 4 defenseman, paired with Randy Jones, who by default is No. 3.

The defense remains the big question mark for the Flyers, but one thing is for certain, they are certainly fast. And speed can help cover mistakes. Eminger definitely has that part of his game down pat.

His skill was on display against Washington Wednesday night, and he probably had a little extra motivation since he was traded to the Flyers by these same Caps.

“I thought he was a good player," said Flyers coach John Stevens. "It was kind of tough to get an evaluation of him because her played a couple of games and then hadn’t played. Clearly for me that was his best game. He shows a lot of composure on the power play. I didn’t know if he was a power play guy or not but now that I get the chance to see him play, he made a great play on the goal (he slid a beauty of a pass to Joffrey Lupul who lit the lamp). He has poise up top, he has a good shot, he sees the ice. He is a good solid two-way defenseman.”

Eminger is just thrilled to get a chance to peddle his wares in Philadelphia, after being stunted for the last few seasons in Washington.

"This is the first time in my career, going back to junior that I've ever been traded," said Eminger. "I was pretty nervous before the game, but I was prett happy with how things went.

"I'm happy to finally get a chance to play special teams. When you get a chance you have to take advantage of it. You can't be lax, you have to do something."

Eminger is doing something - he's winning the confidence of the coach, and should expect some increased ice time as the season moves on.

"He's a candidate for responsibility," said Stevens. "If you kill penalties, which he did and if you play on the power play, which he did, right away your minutes are going to go up.


Steve Downie will be out of action for a little while after spraining a knee ligament at the end of a fight with Caps' forward Jay Beagle.

Beagle said Downie tried to slew-foot him, and then ended up doing the same thing back accidentaly when he drove Downie to the ice.

"I knew I hurt him right away because as soon as I landed on him he screamed in my ear," said Beagle.

This setback for Downie, probably means Jim Dowd gets a shot to make the team out of training camp again.


Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin wasn't in the lineup Wednesday, getting a game off by the coaching staff. He was also told that he didn't have to take the trip to Philadelphia with his team and could stay back in D.C.

Most players would enjoy the night off. Not Ovie.

Nope, Ovie called Caps prospect goalie Simeon Varlamov and anoter Russian bud, told them he was picking them up in his brand new, $200,000 Mecedes Benz, and was driving to Philly for the game.

He made the near three hour commute, and enjoyed the gam from the press box. Then, he drove home.

He gets "it" more than any other superstar in the league. The NHL can only wish to have several more players with the off ice personality of Ovechkin.

I betcha Sidney Crosby would never do that.


It's becoming more and more apparent that the Flyers really like their most recent first round draft pick Luca Sbisa.

Signing him to an entry level contract today is perhaps the biggest clue.

Sbisa, 18, signed an entry level contract with the Flyers, which locks him up for the next three years.

This doesn't mean he is staying with the team. He's still probably going to end up back with his junior team (Lethbridge) in the WHL. But, it actually gives the Flyers a little bit of a discount on a player they think could be a big part of the team before this contract expires.

Sbisa has been impressive in training camp, playing well beyond his age, and looks like he could play in the NHL right now.

With the core group the Flyers have locked up, and players like Sbisa and James vanRiesdyk coming in the next year or two, the FLyers appear to be stocked in the talent department for years to come.


It seems the Flyers are all about tributes these days.

They honored the Spectrum. They honored their former captains. Word is, they're going to honor the Stanley Cup-winning teams of the '70s - again.

But now it's more personal, as Flyers goalie Marty Biron plans to honor Bernie Parent all season long.

Biron has a new mask that he will unveil early in the season. It plays tricks on the eye because of it's well made art work, but it's being done as an honorarium to the greatest Flyers goalie ever.

Biron's mask is painted like the old Parent mask, which was the inspiration for the mask worn by Jason Voorhees in the slasher film series Friday the 13th.

And, when you look at it from a distance, that's what Biron's mask looks like - The white mask with holes all around to breath, and a simple Flyers logo on the forehead, just like Bernie.

But, a closer look shows a much more intricate design.

For the mask is so well-done artistically, that there are smaller versions of the Bernie mask drawn into the big picture.

It's like that optical illusion with the hourglass and two faces. Or the arrow in the Fed Ex logo (Haven't seen that one yet? Look for it. Once you find it, you'll never miss it again... promise).

"It's a simple mask," said Biron. "The other one had a lot of different details. This is simple. Shades of the old mask and the Flyers logo and that's it. That's what makes it fun."

Biron said he thought about doing it last season, but passed.

"I chickened out at the last minute," he said. "I didn't know if it was going to look good or not. The painter was really mad at me. When I told him we were going to do a new mask this year, he asked if we were going to do the Bernie paint job. I felt bad and said 'I guess so.' But it looks good."

Biron said he wasn't sure when the new mask would debut, because he has to get used to it since it is structurally different than what he's been using for the past few years, but he said it won't be long.

One late note... The Flyers released Maxime Ouellet late Tuesday.