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.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


For the old time Flyers' fan:

Had a chance to chat before the game with Bob Clarke about what Barry Ashbee meant to him and the Flyers organization. Here is the transcription:

>You’ve had a photo of Ashbee in your office all these years. Obviously he meant a lot to you. Are his values still with you today?

“Well, the values of team play were. . .well, I mean besides courage, he played with all kinds of injuries. He had back surgery and all that kind of stuff. Team play was the biggest thing for Barry and everybody should be treated the same.
“And I think that attitude was what I was taught in junior (Flin Flon Bombers) but he confirmed that it was right for hockey. For me, I was 21 or 22 when he first came along. You’re still doubting what’s right and what’s wrong at that age. He really confirmed to me that it’s about everybody. And everybody is the same. He was an All-Star.

“I remember Shero used to line us up at the goal line – I was starting to play quite a bit. He was playing quite a bit. Freddie would go down the line when he was going to skate us. He would go, ‘Clarkie, you can go in, Barber you can go in… Ashbee, you don’t need to skate.’ One day I was standing next to Barry and Freddie says that to Barry and Barry says, ‘(Bleep) you, Freddie! As long as these guys can skate, I can skate!’ Nobody left the ice after that."

>Any recent players remind you of him?

“I’m not in the locker room so I don’t really know that much. I think a guy like Ian Laperriere was a lot like Ashbee. The ability to play hard every single night. To play through injuries. . .(Ashbee) had back surgery, that’s why the Bruins let him go. They didn’t think he was ever going to play again. He had the neck thing, too, he wrecked up his neck… had to wear that collar around his neck, couldn’t turn his head. But he always played, wouldn’t miss a practice. He was one of those strictly team guys. Tough man."

>You told me recently that you wouldn’t mind if someone wore No. 16 again. But I’m guessing you wouldn’t feel the same way about No. 4… that it’s untouchable.

“I sure hope it is. Maybe it’s personal. For me he was so special. And then losing his life at such a young age. I think he would have been a great coach. He was a good assistant but I think he would have been a great coach. He never got a chance to do that. He might have been more important as a coach than he was as a player. We’ll never know it. For me, you could use Bernie’s number, you could use Billy’s number, you could use my number.
“We’ve been honored so often and so much. I think it would be good if someone else wore those numbers. I don’t think Barry’s ever should be worn again."

>Thirty years have gone by – do you think you will get emotional tonight?

“Oh yeah, absolutely. When something like this happens, it just brings back the good memories.The day he got leukemia we were showering here at the building, the morning skate. Terry Crisp, myself and him in the shower and Crispy goes, ‘Barry, you’ve got those black and blue marks all over your legs.’ He said, ‘Crispy, I think I’ve got leukemia.’ And Crispy goes, ‘Don’t be so (bleeping) stupid to say something like that.’ But Barry knew, he read up on it. He had the symptoms, besides the black and blue, he knew. And by game time he went to the hospital. The doctor told him: ‘You’re in trouble.’ It was scary."

Notes: Ashbee died a month after that exchange in the shower... also, this interview was not exclusive to the Daily Times as two other media outlets were present for the interview.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Far be it from me to tell the Flyers how to market their brand. They've done a great job of doing just that for more than four decades now and listening to some blowhard journalist doesn't rank high on their list of things to do.

But, in the interest of saving them from themselves, I offer the service of my opinion free of charge for all who care to listen.

First off, the shameless in-arena infomercial starring Steve Coates and Claude Giroux stumping for fan gear is horrible. It should never be trotted out again. It seemed incredibly off the cuff. There didn't appear to b any sense of script. And poor Giroux is constantly having a microphone shoved in his grill while trying to put on one layer of Flyers swag after another.

Again, there's no script, so it's safe to assume Giroux didn't have the flair of a professional actor with some improvisational experience.

Never. Again.

But that's not the biggest injustice. No. That belongs to the usually savvy marketing geniuses who come up with the team slogan.

You may have noticed there is no team slogan yet. That's because the team is going to ride the whole 2010 Eastern Conference Champions thing right up until the last second of the calendar year.

But, a new slogan will be unveiled, probably in January or thereabouts. The Flyers haven't released this yet, but here it is, for the first time, for your consumption.


Not a bad saying. It's rather poetic, almost like it was penned by Robert Frost, or e.e. cummings, or Maya Angelou.

But as a slogan?

Way too bulky kids. To many words. To many W's. What is this a course on public speaking? Ugh.

The saying certainly has good meaning. It's a fine rallying cry for a hungry team. And so I've been told - it's a creation of Peter Laviolette's.

It wouldn't be the first time the marketing folks had their motto selected by someone else. General manager Paul Holmgren came up with last season's slogan: Relentless.

Usually, Shawn Tilger, the Big marketing Cheese, comes up with the slogan while sunbathing on the beaches of South Jersey - like he did when he thought up "Hungry For More" couple years ago.

Which makes me scratch my head at this one. Five words is too many for a slogan. It doesn't roll trippingly off the tongue. Besides, who wants a comma in a slogan?

So why not cut it down? Just use the second half. "We Will." It's short, alliterative, and shows focus, confidence and determination.

Sure it seems a little smug because of it's matter-of-factness. But, it's exactly the attitude of this team. It believes it can win and is making a promise to the city to do just that.

I can see thousands of fans wearing orange T-shirts with "We Will" emblazoned across the chest. It certainly would catch on. But not with the first part of the saying. Then it becomes too cluttered.

Remember, shorter is better. Less is more.

Especially if it's that Coates-Giroux bit. Woah!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Just did an interview with Simon Gagne. I acted as a pool reporter for all the local media because Simon is preparing for his game tonight in Montreal, so you might see these quotes elsewhere as well.

But, for those of you interested in what Gagne is thinking about his return tomorrow, here you go:

Q: How’s it going in Tampa? Obviously a little different start to your season than you’re used to being there instead of Voorhees, no?

“That’s the toughest part. It’s all the stuff outside of hockey. It’s getting to learn the area. Getting comfortable in a new house, finding where the doctors are and stuff like that. It’s more outside the game where you have to make the adjustments. When you are at the rink you practice and still play the same game. We have a great bunch of guys here. It’s not very different than Philly on the ice it’s just very different off the ice for me and my family.”

Q: Coming back home tomorrow, what’s it going to be like?

“It’ll be special. It will mean a lot. I spent 11 years there and 11 years in one life is a lot. And it’s not just the 11 years. I started my career there. I was a rookie there. When I left home for the first time I went to Philly. When I was 16-17-18-years-old I was playing juniors but I was playing in my home town. So it was the first time I went away and it became my second home. Going back there is going to be weird. It’s going to be hard. I was laughing with the (Tampa and Montreal) media today about how it’s going to be tough to make sure I go to the left side and the locker room where we’re supposed to be and not the Flyers locker room. At the same time I’m looking forward to seeing all the people who work in the (Wells Fargo) Center and being able to say hello to them. It’s going to be a special game for me tomorrow. For me it’s a big one here tonight too in Montreal because I have a lot of family coming here to see me play in a different uniform for the first time. There’s been a lot of emotion for me this week – my first game in Tampa, now back in Montreal and then in Philly tomorrow, so it’s been a tough week for me. Hopefully though we’ll have some fun with it because I’m looking forward to playing these games.

Q: Is it almost better to get all of these emotional games out of the way so quickly so you can get on with just playing hockey for the Lightning?

“I’m not going to lie to you, there’s a lot going on right now. Here in Montreal and then tomorrow in Philly too. The good thing is maybe having the games back-to-back so I won’t be there too long. I’ll be in and out so it will be easier for me. I’m glad that it’s happening earlier in the season, but I’d rather have a little rest before playing the Flyers.”

Q: Have you had an opportunity to talk with any of the guys on the Flyers about this game tomorrow?

“I talked with Danny Briere a little bit but we didn’t talk about the game. We talked about he he’s doing, how I’m doing and stuff like that. Nothing about what to expect. Whatever happens on the ice happens. It might be a good thing that we’re getting in so late tonight because we won’t go to the rink in the morning, just meet at the hotel, rest, and then go to the rink for the game. I won’t get much time to spend there my first time back. It’s going to be tough for me.”

Q: I don’t know if I should tell you this or not, but the Flyers are planning a little video tribute to you during the first period. That should get the crowd riled up. Do you anticipate that will be an emotional moment for you?

“Yes. I think so. You mentioning it to me catches me by surprise. I have a lot of great memories there and now that I’m coming back… it’s going to be a tough night. I’m glad they’re going to do it early in the game though that way I can enjoy it for a moment and then focus on the game the rest of the way.”

Friday, October 8, 2010


Claude Giroux was talking after the Flyers 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the season opener about the first time he saw Sergei Bobrovsky in net.

It was in practice, and the Flyers were taking breakaways on the rookie goalie.

Giroux and Danny Briere, two of the Flyers more creative breakaway specialists tried a lot of fancy dekes and toe drags and puck tricks to beat him and time after time were stoned by Bobrovsky.

"We said, 'Who is this guy," said Giroux.

Well, he's your new starting goalie.

Bob didn't disappoint in his NHL debut, making 29 saves - and all 15 in a lopsided first period that completely favored the Penguins - to lead the Flyers to victory.

The question that kept creeping up during training camp was "What about Bob?"

He's now started to provide answers.

Now, one game does not a season make, and coach Peter Laviolette said Brian Boucher, who also had a good training camp, will get his opportunities to play early in the season as well, but it's hard not to look at the 22-year-old and think big things.

Some other observations and notes from the opener at Consol Energy Center:

- The building is cool. Kudos to the Penguins organization for finding an architect with a keen eye on how the sport of hockey should be presented. Great site lines, great video board, open and spacious concession areas and concourses - just a perfect atmosphere for a good hockey town.

- Mario Lemieux pouring water allegedly from Mellon Arena onto center ice before the game began was incredibly corny. There was nothing special about that arena. It was horrible. Boucher said "It was the worst arena in the world." To pay tribute to it in that way was hokey.

- Again... just one game but there were a couple negatives for the Flyers... Nik Zherdev played fewer minutes than any Flyer except Dan Carcillo and Jody Shelley. He tried a couple of dipsy-do moves that the Pens staunch defense didn't fall for and spent a lot of time... especially in the third period, rooted to the bench. The other fail was Jeff Carter on the wing. He looked lost at times, and his best chance to score in the third period was lost on a pad save by Marc-Andre Fleury.

- Really liked the way Darroll Powe played. He filled in nicely for Ian Laperriere on the top unit of the penalty kill, and his crash the net mentality set up the Flyers second goal for Blair Betts. He won't get a lot of publicity but he is a key ingredient to this team's success.

- The defense, without Chris Pronger, was shaky in the first period but bounced back nicely over the final two frames.

- Claude Giroux pounced on a lazy backward pass by Kris Letang for the short-handed game-winner. He has the ability - playing with Mike Richards on the PK - to create a dangerous duo on the point - much like Richards and Simon Gagne were on the PK two years ago.


One final note. I wrote a story before the game about Pronger's knee injury and how his surgery might have been more complex than the team originally let on. I had a chance to follow up with Pronger via text message afterward and while he didn't completely clear up his injury severity, he did suggest that he was being playful with the media when using terms like "redone" and "reconstruction." Take that for what you will.


I won't be in St. Louis because I'll be home celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving.... Seriously. Sarah's family is coming down from Ontario and we're having a big thing at the house. But, I plan on watching the game, so be sure to follow along with me on Twitter @anthonysan37 as I watch it from a fan's perspective on the tube with you all.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


We've seen this in Philadelphia before, so we should be numb to it by now, but each time it leaves an bigger, more indelible mark.

A Flyers source confirmed to me today that Ian Laperriere would not play for the remainder this season as a result of post-concussion symptoms resulting from blocking a shot with his face last April.

The worse news, according to a separate source, is that Laperriere may never play hockey professionally again.

According to the second source, the Flyers are debating whether to put Laperriere on the long-term injury list or to have him announce his retirement and simply deal with the cap hit for the next two seasons because of Laperriere's age.

The Flyers are not saying anything publicly about the situation, but it's a safe bet that it'll be a topic for internal discussion in the days ahead.

Laperriere was not immediately available to comment.

In other injury news, Michael Leighton has been placed on LTIR and will miss the first 10 games of the season at a minimum.

Also, Andreas Nodl was sent down to the Phantoms today, but will be recalled tomorrow to play against the Penguins. The move was purely for financial purposes.

I will update as I get more information.