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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


From the team-issued press release today:

The Flyers have signed 5’11”, 195-pound defenseman Erik Gustafsson from Northern Michigan University to a future contract which will begin at the start of the 2010-11 season, according to club General Manager Paul Holmgren.

Gustafsson, 22, recently completed his third season of play for the Northern Michigan University Wildcats of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), where he registered 32 points (3G,29A) and 26 penalty minutes in 39 games. He also served as team captain for the Wildcats, while also leading all CCHA defensemen in scoring with 32 points, while his 29 assists led all CCHA defensemen and tied for third overall among all CCHA players. For the second consecutive season, Gustafsson was named the CCHA’s Best Offensive Defenseman.

In his three seasons with Northern Michigan (2007-08 to 2009-10), the native of Kvissleby, Sweden recorded 93 points (7G,86A) in 123 games for the Wildcats. In 2008-09, he led the team in assists (30) and was named to the CCHA All-Conference First Team and won his first CCHA Best Offensive Defenseman award. He was also named to the CCHA All-Rookie Team in 2007-08.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I know I promised this update postgame last night, but I got a little tied up, but believe me, it'll be worth the wait.

I wrote a second story last night that talked about the Flyers efforts to land Robert Esche this past weekend, only to be thwarted by the remaining months on his Russian contract.

I then mentioned how Esche might be a possibility in the summer. And he still is, but, I had a conversation later in the night, after that story was already written, hinting as to what the Flyers offseason plans might be.

The person I spoke with will remain anonymous, just know that it's someone within the organization who has full knowledge of what the team's personnel decisions and plans are.

Here is what he said to me:

"We can't go into next year with the same situation or a similar situation in goal that we have right now. What happened this year is really nobody's fault. Ray (Emery) came in here and did everything we asked and was good until he got hurt. We got lucky with (Michael) Leighton, but we can't expect to win doing things this way in goal.

"It's already been decided that our No. 1 priority for next season is to get a goalie. We have to go out and get that player and commit to him as our guy.

"It's probably going to mean somebody is going to have to be traded away, especially if we go after a young goalie on another team, but that's what we're going to have to do. We can't keep going the way we have been. The goalie has to be the most important target and we don't want to keep replacing one veteran with another. We want to get a guy who can be our goalie for several years.... We have to go in another direction."

O.K., so no names were mentioned there, but when you talk about trading for a young goalie on another team, there's very few places you can look and be excited about what you'll get in return.

There's Antii Niemi in Chicago, although methinks he's going to be their goalie of the future, not Cristobal Huet.

There's Cory Schneider in Vancouver, who is blocked by Roberto Luongo, but keep in mind, Schneider is still a wholly unproven commodity.

Then there's Montreal, where it appears Jaroslav Halak has won out over Carey Price.

Now we're talking.

Price, still just 22, was the fifth overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and burst on the scene two seasons ago going 24-12-3 as a rookie and leading the Habs to the best record in the Eastern Conference until he was completely unnerved and dismantled by R.J. Umberger and the Flyers in the second round of the playoffs.

He endured a sophomore slump last season, but bounced back some this season, but not enough to hold on to his job in the pressure cooker that is Montreal.

So, the Canadiens will likely look to pawn him off this summer, but it could be costly.

Who exactly would have to go back in exchange? Well, that's the key question which answer needs to be fleshed out.

Will the Canadiens take a veteran whom the Flyers' might convince to waive a no trade clause? Or will they want one of the Flyers top young players like Claude Giroux or James van Riemsdyk?

This is all conversation that will be better suited for June than the end of March, but be certain it's coming.

Because another source told me recently:

"A number of these guys (on the Flyers roster) won't be back."

Let the whirlwind speculation begin.


UPDATE: One fan suggested to me on Twitter today that Jonathan Bernier should be added to this mix. I concur. Bernier has had a great season in the AHL this year and seems to be in a logjam with Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles.

Considering the Flyers have a very good relationship with Kings management (Dean Lombardi and Ron Hextall) this would also make sense.

Although, I still think they want a young goalie WITH experience in the NHL.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Six-time Stanley Cup winner and Hall-of-famer Mark Messier was in the buidling to watch the Flyers fizzle out against the Wild.

The primary purpose of his visit? To scout the Wild for prospective players for Team Canada for the upcoming IIHF World Hockey Championships in Germany in May.

But, with the Flyers plummeting like a stone, maybe he has his eye on a couple of Philly players too...

One of them might be Mike Richards, who Messier praised in all aspects for how he's handled and endured such a tough season.

“I really like Richards a lot," Messier said. “I like the way he plays and I think he’s a player the others galvanize around, which is important.

“As any young captain, it’s a learning experience. The only way you become a good captain is getting through the good times and bad times, making decisions – and sometimes they are not always great decisions – but you learn from those.

“I like him, I think he’s done a great job here. The team seems to be back on track now."

While that last statement was more of a courtesy than the rest of his comment, the fact is, Messier knows leadership. He's considered one of the greatest hockey captains in the history of the sport. So, to hear him give Richards a plug has a little more oomph than most.

As for the NHL's sudden rule change regarding head shots, Messier, who delivered more than his share of brain-rattling checks in his day, said ultimately it's up to the players to not put themselves in a position to get their clock cleaned.

“We have to be careful in instituting any rules," he said. “I know there’s pressure on the players and the NHL to make some kind of rule. But hockey is a game of intimidation, of intensity and body checks. When you grew up, you learned instinctual habits, to protect yourself at all times.

“I think we’ve gotten away from those instincts. . .(now) you’re seeing players letting their guard down at the wrong time. It’s a very fine line of making decisions and changing the rules."

You may have hated him as an opponent, but you've got to respect Mess and his view of the game.

Oh, and don't think he wasn't scouting the Flyers a little for the New York Rangers where he serves as an assistant GM. The Rangers are back within 5 points of the Flyers for a playoff spot and play them in the Final two games of the season.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


The Flyers are hoping the surgical procedure Jeff Carter will undergo tomorrow can speed up his recovery and ultimately his return to the ice - maybe before the regular season is out.
He will have a screw inserted at Thomas Jefferson hospital.
“A bunch of different foot and ankle specialists looked at Jeff," general manager Paul Holmgren said. “It was decided to put (the screw) in for two reasons: Number one, it might expedite him back in the lineup, but the more important one is, where the fracture is, there might be future problems down the road if he didn’t have it."
Holmgren believes that the screw will permanently remain in Carter’s foot as a stabilizer.
l l l
As for Matt Carle, Holmgren added the injury was a deep bone bruise in his left foot (Calling Daniel Day Lewis). Apparently, the injury occurred during Tuesday's 2-0 loss at Ottawa.
Holmgren added that an X-Ray and an MRI were both negative but that more tests wil be needed once swelling goes down. That sounds like he might miss more than this one game.


Flyers defenseman Matt Carle is out of the lineup tonight with a bone bruise in his foot.

Like Jeff Carter, he blocked a shot, although the injury is not as severe.

Still, it's enough to keep hm out of the lineup in a must win situation against Minnesota.

Lukas Krajicec is back in the the rotation, replacing Carle and playing with Kimmo Timonen. Braydon Coburn replaces Carle on the top pairing with Chris Pronger while Ryan Parent and Oskars Bartulis remain the third pair.

Speaking of Carter, he'll have a permanent screw surgically inserted into his left foot tomorrow to help heal a fracture in his arch. The surgery could expedite his return to the lineup.

Also, once again there are new lines.

They are:

van Riemsdyk -Giroux-Powe

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

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Monday, March 22, 2010


I posed a question on Twitter during yet another Flyers' debacle last night that drew a wide-range of responses bpth through Twitter and on Facebook.

I simply asked if, at this point, fans would prefer the Flyers still try and gut it out to make the playoffs or if you've seen enough of this inconsistent team with Brian Boucher now as the go-to goalie to realize this is a lost season and it would be better off if they missed the playoffs so sweeping changes could be made.

OK, I only had 140 characters, so it was a little condensed, but that was the gist of it.

As expected there were people on board with missing the playoffs, there were those who offered a well-thought out opinion as to why they should still push to get in, and then there were those who flat out called me names for even suggesting them missing the playoffs.

Yep, those are the wingnut Stepfords. And believe me, there's more than you think.

In reality, even with Boucher, there's no question the Flyers are a good enough team talent-wise to make the playoffs. But, they're certainly not good enough to make any semblance of a run, meaning they're likely out in the first round against of the possible opponents (Washington, Pittsburgh, Buffalo or New Jersey) or, if they get lucky and win one round, they're likely gone by Round Two.

But, the makeup of this team, the chemistry, just isn't right. They can't play cohesively. They don't seem desperate to win. They seem disjointed, not together and, most likely, not able to rectify it.

They can play great in spurts, but they can equally play despondently in spurts too.

There are games they put together like the one against Chicago last Saturday where they seem like they can beat anyone in the league, and then they come out the next night and pop like an overblown baloon against the mediocre-at-best New York Rangers.

Michael Leighton's injury in Nashville probably dealt a bigger blow to the team psyche than anyone has cared to suggest. The players liked playing in front of Leighton. They understood the feel-good story and enjoyed being part of it. Leighton's play instilled confidence in the team in front of him and vice versa.

It was a perfect, you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours situation.

With Boucher, no one will ever say this, but the confidence is shaken. Why? I'm not sure. He's a veteran. He's respected. He remained professional during his three-month exile from the ice, dutifuly performing in practice the whole time and never chirping to the media. But, for whatever reason, and his skills aren't significantly different from Leighton, this team doesn't respond in front of him.

But that's the makeup of this Flyers bunch. They have a different attitude than any team I've ever seen in pro sports. They seem to think they can turn it on and off at a moment's notice. They feel they can play at their peak when they want, and don't have to exert all the energy until it's absolutely necessary.

It's like the kid who was a straight A student in high school, goes of to college and thinks everything is going to come just as easy to himm and finds out it's a whole different ball game and struggles to maintain his success because of his refusal to adapt and reliance on past practice.

That's where these Flyers have been for two straight seasons now. Even a vteran turnover last summer didn't cure that.

So maybe, just maybe, it might be better for this team in the long run to miss the playoffs, even if they technically are the fifth best team in the East, because then the core of the Flyers, a core that GM Paul Holmgren is so leery of shaking up, might finally be adjusted appropriately.

And if Holmgren won't do it, something tells me a playoff miss might make the organizational brass find someone else who will.

For a video breakdown of last night's loss go here: