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.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Chris Pronger just addressed the media for the first time since catching a stick to his right eye last Monday against Toronto.

He appeared to be in good spirits and didn't look too bad considering. His right pupil was a little larger than it should be, but he's on his way back - admitting he started riding the bike today.

Here is the video of the interview:

Notice that he calls me fat during it - deservedly so I guess....

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Ilya Bryzgalov allowed four goals on 10 shots in a relief effort Thursday as the Flyers lost a sloppy game, 9-8 to the Winnipeg Jets.

After the game, the goalie said he "stinks," has "no confidence" in himself, and he is "lost in the woods."

Great quotes from a stand-up guy. But that's not going to be enoough for Flyers fans who have to begin wondering if it was worth blowing up the franchise just to sign him for nine years and $51 million.

Here's the complete interview:


Brayden Schenn broke his foot in the Flyers 5-1 loss to Montreal and will now miss 4-6 weeks according to Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren.

The Flyers also recalled defenseman Eric Gustafsson and forward Zac Rinaldo. Both are available for tonight's game against Winnipeg, but it is uncertain whether either will play.

Schenn broke his foot while blocking a shot from Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban. Schenn remained in the game afterward, but the break was discovered post game.

The addition of Gustafsson and Rinaldo poses an interesting scenario for the Flyers salary cap wise.

Gustafsson makes $900,000 and Rinaldo $544,444. They didn't have room for both, but rather then send Matt Walker down to the Phantoms to clear the space, they placed Schenn on the long-term injury list (LTIR) marking their third player on the list (along with Ian Laperriere and Blair Betts).

With that the case, it's pretty certain the Flyers will be deferring any bonus money from this year that may be accrued to next season.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Chris Pronger took a stick in the right eye with eight minutes to play in the first period Monday and is out for at least two weeks - and that's if things go well over the next 96 hours.

Trying to block a Mikhail Grabovski slapshot during the Flyers 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pronger was clipped in the eye by Grabovski's stick on the follow through to his shot.

Pronger dropped to the ice and started screaming.

It was a scary moment.

Here's Danny Briere talking about it (plus some other things from the Flyers win)

Pronger will need bed rest for four days, and assuming there's no further problems, can start skating in about two weeks.

But he's not out of the woods yet. These next four days are critical. If blood starts to coagulate and clot, it could mean more problems lie ahead, and a tougher and longer road to recovery.

Here's Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren on the injury:

Q: (Inaudible)

“… very scary incident, in particular watching him come off the ice like that. Right now, he had a little bit of a cut just on the outside of his right eye here. The eye doctor checked him out thoroughly, and he’s got a little bit of an issue right now with his eye. We think max, three or four days… no real concern, other than what might happen over the next three or four days, whether it’s swelling or something behind the eye. So he’s basically going to be on bedrest for three days, and hopefully he’ll be fine within a couple weeks.

Q: Did he go to the hospital?

“No, our eye doctor came here. He’s going to see the eye doctor every day for the next four days. We think after that time that he’ll be out of, we don’t want to say danger, but if everything goes ok and if the swelling goes down, he should start on some kind of an exercise program shortly after that, and we’re hoping he’ll be able to rejoin the team within ten days to two weeks. And skating-wise, not necessarily playing wise.”

Q: Is there a prognosis on it?

“Well, not really. The prognosis is that he was hit on the side here and there’s a lot of swelling around his eye and the hope is that the blood doesn’t build up there and create issues. That’s why he’s going to be on bedrest here for the next four days.”

Q: Which doctor?

“Doctor Goldman.”

Q: Holmgren, when this happens, (inaudible)?

“Well, when Chris comes back, he’ll be wearing a visor. We made it mandatory in the American Hockey League and it’s not an issue. Obviously some of these players have been around a long time and for whatever reason they don’t want to wear them. When Chris comes back… (inaudible). I think the improvements on the visor over the last few years, compared to what it was ten or 15 years ago, are tremendous. Other than getting a little sweat in there and some water on the visor, I don’t think it’s a big issue. I’m not sure our doctor would clear him to play unless (inaudible).” I think Chris was really scared after this incident tonight, and I would like to believe (inaudible).

Q: Did he lose his sight at all?

“No. It was blurred.”

Q: Because of the salary cap right now, I don’t know if you guys can afford to bring somebody else up or are you comfortable with Lilja, Walker and…

“We have players we can use. We’ll be fine.”

Q: (inaudible) he was obviously in a lot of pain.

“He wasn’t in the mood to talk. I think he was very scared, and rightly so. When something like that happens to your eye, you’re worried and you don’t know what’s going on, but I think he settled down over a period of time and was fine.”

Q: Did you think Toronto was a little careless with their sticks tonight overall?

“It’s a fast game, and things happen quickly. The first six games you could say we were careless with our sticks. It’s a freak accident, and obviously a very scary accident.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


It was only a matter of time and money but now Brayden Schenn is here... Likely to stay.

Schenn was recalled by the Flyers today replacing two players - Zac Rinaldo and Harry Zolnierczyk - who were both sent down to the Phantoms.

Schenn, 20, spent four games with the Phantoms in the AHL and had four goals and four assists.

He had to start the season in the AHL because of the suspension to Jody Shelley and the Flyers precarious cap position. However, now that Shelley is off the suspension, Rinaldo is moveable as the Flyers don't need another fighter and Zolnierczyk, who was a one game replacement for the dinged up Andreas Nodl, was sent down despite scoring his first NHL goal in his first NHL game.

The Flyers are actually operating above the salary cap but can do so because of injury allowance space from Ian Laperriere and Blair Betts being on the long-term injury list. Even still, the Flyers are dangerously close to using up their allowance and may have to make another move soon to get some financial breathing room.

I'll have more on this as the day goes on.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Skipped Flyers practice today...

Instead, I made that wonderful commute to Newark, N.J. - the plan? Talk to Mike Richards.

I have a story coming on him very soon (it'll be in tomorrow's papers but we'll give you a sneak peak in a bit), but I wanted to share some quotes with you about the former captain.

I spoke with Simon Gagne, Richards himself and Kings assistant coach John Stevens.

I also have some quotes here courtesy of Wayne Fish of the Bucks County Courier, who was in Voorhees, N.J. talking Richards with the Flyers.

For the record, Mike didn't want to get into to many details from his past - which I understood. So, his comments are rather plain.

Here are all the Q and A's.... full story to come:


>The guys in here defend Richards, said he was a good team player. . .

“He was a guy who wore a letter and guys looked up to him. They listened to what he had to say when he spoke. It wasn’t too often that he would step up and say something but when he did, it meant something.

“So I’m sure it will be an emotional game for him. He started his career here and he was the face of the organization. It will be an emotional game for him but it will be just like any other game for us. It’s something more for the fans and the media and stuff.’’

>You’ve been traded. Sometimes it’s good to get a fresh start, might change a guy’s career, right?

“Absolutely. In going through it twice myself, it is sometimes a blessing in disguise. Time will tell on both sides how that plays out but it’s one of those things that’s always bittersweet. You don’t wish it upon anybody. When it happens, you feel bad for the parties involved. I’m sure it’s the same for management and the people that are making those decisions. It’s not an easy decision to make, to trade somebody.

“A lot of the fans don’t realize you’re uprooting your family and your life. But at the same time, it’s what we do. I think everyone understands that.’’

>Are expectations a little less after you’ve been traded? There’s always that initial hype for players drafted. On the second team, players seem to operate in a less demanding environment…

“I guess, again, time will tell. We watched that first game (Kings vs. Rangers in Stockholm), he was playing top minutes and he’s not a guy who’s going to fly under the radar. He’s a top echelon player in this league. Any team he’s playing, he’s going to be facing their best defensive pairs.’’

>Expect a good reception for him?

“Yeah, I think the fans recognize the work that he put in and what he did every night on the ice. He sacrificed his body, great two-way player, blocked shots, fighting, hitting. . .he really led by example for us.’’


>What do you expect on Saturday?

“We’re facing a tough team, there’s going to be a lot of emotion with a lot of ex-Flyers coming back. We’ll have to be ready for this one.’’

>What about Richards, what’s going through his mind?

“Yeah, I think it’s going to be mixed feelings for him. He’ll never forget the good times that he’s had here but at the same time, he’s moving on and I’m sure he wants to start something special in LA as well.

“It will be very weird as the fans respond nice to him. Everything. . .the way he’s played the game, on the ice especially, I don’t think the fans have anything to complain about.’’

>You’ve moved in this league; is there a natural tendency to want to show the previous team they were wrong. . .extra motivation?

“You go back and you want to prove they made a mistake. I think every competitive hockey player – and we all know Mike is – plays with a little bit of an edge when you’re back in that situation.’’

>Did you have that feeling the first time you went back to Buffalo?

“When I went back to Buffalo, when I played Phoenix. . .I think it’s totally normal.’’


>You and Richards are part of that first-round draft pick fraternity. What did he impart on you?

“Just his presence in general was good. On and off the ice, he made me feel real comfortable here. Obviously, he’s a pretty laid-back guy off the ice. Maybe he keeps to himself a little bit. But he’s a guy you definitely look up to you when you come into the league. He’s had a lot of success in his years here. He’s a great teammate and a great friend, so obviously we were sad to see him go.’’

>Briere said there’s extra motivation for a traded player to prove his old team wrong. . .

“I’m sure he wasn’t expecting it to happen, so maybe that puts a little more salt in the wound. I know he loved playing here. I don’t think necessarily he wanted to leave. It makes it tough to leave. Coming back, I’m sure he wants to make a point.’’

>Was it overstated that the room was divided and Richards was in the middle of all of it?

“I don’t know where that came from. Both Jeff (Carter) and Mike were key members of what we did on the ice and off. As far as getting the guys together, I know that even after I got drafted and before I made the team, I spent my summers here. They went out of their way to make me feel really comfortable. ‘Do you want to go to a ballgame?’ or whatever. I can’t say enough good things about those guys.’’


>You know what it’s like to go back to a place you’ve called home for years. What do you expect it will be like for Mike to come back here Saturday? Will he be received well?

“I’m sure he will. I’m not sure what Mike’s thinking or what he might be going through. He’s been a part of this organization for a long time and I’m sure he will be received well.’’

>What are your lasting impressions of him?

“I wasn’t here for that much of his tenure. What stands out for me the most is that he was a captain of a team that went to the Finals and almost won the Cup. The players that were here that year were close.’’


>JVR said Richards helped him a lot when he first got here. There seem to be a lot of good things about Mike that maybe people aren’t aware of. . .

“Way more. Mike was a great player for our organization for six –plus years. He did everything we asked . . . maybe he got painted with the wrong brush there. He was a good player. When we made the trade, we thought we were making a good trade that would work out well for us. Probably will work out well for Los Angeles. He’s still one of the top young players in the game. Two-way guy, quality character. Tough. LA made a good deal and we think we made a good deal. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had a great year and LA goes on to do great things.’’

>How difficult was it to make that trade?

“For our organization, that was huge (decision) to make both those trades. They were something we thought we needed now and in the future. I still believe they are good hockey trades and we will benefit from them down the road. That doesn’t mean those guys aren’t going to do good things for the teams they are with now. I hope they do.’’


What is Saturday going to be like for Mike?

“It’s not easy. For me this year will be easier to go back to Philly. For the first time, it’s almost like going home. Just driving by the rink and driving through the city brings you back to the past and brings back a lot of good memories. It’s hard. Mike played there quite awhile. It’s going to be tough and it’s going to take time to adjust. On my side last year it took me a while to realize I wasn’t playing for the Flyers and that I was with Tampa Bay, wearing that jersey was definitely weird. Then, walking across to the locker room on the other side was definitely one of the toughest days in my career. It’s not going to be easier for Mike. We’ll try to help him with that but he’s strong enough mentally to get through it. Other than that it will be fun for him to go back and see some friends. We have two days there, which is something I didn’t have last year because we had back-to-back games there. I don’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing to just go there, play and get out of town, but it’s not an easy thing to do.”

Have you had the chance to talk about it at all?

“Not really. I’m the type of guy that if you want to ask me I’m willing to talk, but I think he’s old enough now and mature enough that he’s really strong mentally. I’m sure he’s really prepared himself for this moment and is going to be ready for it.”

Was it an easier transition for him coming to L.A. because of so many familiar faces?

“Maybe. Personally, I think it was easier to come to Los Angeles this year than it was going to Tampa because I know guys like Mike and the coaching staff and (assistant G.M.) Ron Hextall and (G.M. Dean) Lombardi. It’s like coming to a place you are comfortable with and comfortable with the system. I guess it would be the same thing for Mike. That was the first time he was traded in the league so who knows, but I think it will help in the transition to a new team to adjust a bit quicker then going to another team and learning everything all over with new coaches and guys you’ve never played with before.”


What’s this weekend going to be like for you?

“I’m not sure. I haven’t thought about it that much, or at least tried not to as much as possible. It’s going to be exciting once I get there.”

How much has having familiar faces here helped with your adjustment?

“I think everyone in the dressing room has helped out. You may not notice it much being all the way on the East Coast, but the guys in this dressing room have helped me a lot to make me feel at home right away. But yeah, to have familiar faces like Johnny and Murph and Simon definitely helped out a lot, but we have a great group of guys here. We come to the rink every morning and tell jokes and stories – it’s a real close group that welcomed me in.”

How important was your summer – just getting away?

“This time there was a change, but not much of a change – I like to get away from hockey and get away from everything. Get my thoughts together and prepare for another season off the ice.”

What was your initial reaction?


How long did it take for that shock to go away?

“A little bit – Once I got to know the area a little bit it helped out, but once I got to L.A. it was just hockey again?”

Does it make it easier to not focus on going back to Philly that it came at the end of this incredibly long road trip that had you away from home for almost three weeks?

“Yeah. It’s been here, there, everywhere with planes, trains and automobiles. It’s been good though, to get away with the guys and be welcomed into their tight-knit group. It’s fun to come to the rink again. You don’t have to worry about anything. You just come to the rink and joke around with the guys. There’s not little (cliques) or anything – there’s just one big group. When you have that it makes everyone closer and you play that much harder on the ice.”

Have you kept in touch with any of the guys?

“I was actually in Philly Monday and went out to dinner with Hartnell. I still keep in touch through text messages and stuff. I will probably see a couple more of the guys (tonight).”

What was it like playing in front of Philadelphia fans?

“I enjoyed playing in front of them every night and I’m excited to play in front of them again Saturday. I tried to leave everything on the ice every night for them and I thought I did that. It’s what made it fun to go to the rink.”


What has it been like for Mike joining up with you guys and now getting ready to come back to Philly this weekend?

“We’ve had other things on our mind, but at this point in the trip, the return to Philly is upon us. I’m not quite sure what the emotions are going to be for Mike or the fans but he certainly was a big part of things there. He grew up there. He was drafted there. When you think of Mike Richards you think of Philadelphia. This is certainly a big event for him and the fans. As far as for us, getting him integrated is no different than any new player trying to find his way with the team. He’s a quiet leader the way he plays the game anyway. He does some subtle things that exude leadership. I think he’s getting adjusted much like (Gagne) is or even Ethan Moreau who is a veteran player in a new city and new situation. He’s settling in with his teammates and developing new relationships and every day he seems to be more and more comfortable being here.”

How much does having familiar faces here help?
“It helps because it’s such a big change moving from East Coast to West Coast because of the time change and communication and stuff like that. I think it easier for a guy that doesn’t have a wife and kids and a family with schools to deal with, but it’s still a big change. I think he’s had some time now and he’s enjoying the area and it’s a great place to live – that part’s been easy. But I also think when you’re a player you have relationships with your coaches and other players and that helps you settle in. The fact that Mike has existing relationships with (coach) Terry (Murray), myself, (Hextall, Lombardi) and of course Simon – that relationship[p has been important for both guys. It helps. If a player went somewhere where he didn’t know anybody it would be a longer adjustment phase but from our end, having a guy like Mike who we know so well and from his end having relationships already in place, it’s very helpful all the way around.”

What are your expectations for Mike?

“No different than they were in Philadelphia. He’s an all situations player that we count on in every critical situation both offensively and defensively. He plays on our top two lines and has a lot of responsibility and we expect leadership from him as well. I don’t think anything has changed for Mike except for his uniform.”

Do you like the fact that coming home you have an extra day to catch up with Friends and the sort in town rather than it just being one night, in and out?

“If you talk to anyone who spent time in Philadelphia they’d tell you it’s a great city. We’ve all thoroughly enjoyed our time there. It’s a chance for us to go back and see people we’ve grown close to and everyone relishes those opportunities. It’s a great city and everyone, including Mike, will have nothing but great things to say about the city and their fans. We’re excited to go back and spend a couple days.”

Does it take some of the pressure off Mike that he doesn’t have to wear a letter on his jersey here and can just play?

“I don’t think Mike changes anything whether he wears a letter or not. I still see him doing things where he subtly taps guys on the pads or he communicates in the circle during a timeout. To me that’s the Mike leads. He leads by example and with his play. So, whether he has a letter on his jersey or not, I don’t see a big difference in the way he carries himself.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011


The Flyers won't give us a straight answer about Matt Walker, so we have no choice but to speculate.

I'll lay out some facts, then offer an opinion, then leave it up to you to interpret what's what.

Let's start with a timeline:

Wednesday at Noon - Walker clears waivers.

Wednesday at 12:05 - Walker tells us that he expects to be in the lineup for the opener; playing alongside Braydon Coburn. Walker also adds that he's completely healthy. This something coach Peter Laviolette also talked about earlier in the week, saying it's nice to see Walker healthy and happy after a trying season last year.

Wednesday at 12:15 - Coburn confirms Walker's belief about the two playing together and discusses what it will be like playing with a right-hand shot and being the guy who makes the switch to the left side.

Wednesday at 3 pm - the Flyers send out a press release confirming Walker is in fact on the roster and that Oskars Bartulis, the other defenseman to clear waivers, will be sent to the Phantoms.

Thursday at 1130 am - the Flyers take the ice for their morning practice at TD Garden in Boston. Walker does not skate.

Thursday at 1230 pm - Laviolette directs all questions about Walker to Paul Holmgren.

Thursday at 1245 pm - Holmgren says there is nothing wrong with Walker and that he didn't skate because he "wanted to work on other things."

Thursday at 1pm - I get a text confirming Andreas Lilja will play and Walker won't.

So what happened?

I can't figure honestly. I do not believe he's injured at all. If he were, Holmgren would have offered an obligatory "upper" or "lower" body injury. He didn't do that.

I guess they could be holding him out of everything because of a pending trade. But I'm not sure they want to do that now. Bartulis would have to clear recall waivers to come back... Which is unlikely as teams could get him for half his salary (which would be $300,000) and Erik Gustafsson needs to play in the AHL to improve.

Or maybe, and this is really just speculation and not confirmed by anyone at all, maybe Walker was pulled from the start because of something disciplinary.

Hey, stranger things have happened.

I mean seriously, what other things was Walker working possibly working on if he wasn't skating with the team or even in the building?

Was he working out alone at the team hotel? Was he putting new numerical stickers on his teammates helmets? Was he sharpening his Scrabble skills playing Words with Friends on his smart phone?

Seriously. The Flyers need to be more up front about stuff like this.

And they wonder why no one regularly believes them.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Blair Betts was claimed off waivers just before the noon deadline today by the Montreal Canadians, much as the Flyers expected.

Betts, 31, was an attractive piece on the waiver wire because of his cap-friendly salary of $700,000 and his defensive mindset and an ability to kill penalties.

This frees up a contract spot for the Flyers to sign rookie Sean Couturier, should they want to keep him on the roster beyond the first nine games of the season.

The other Flyers who were on the waiver wire - Matt Walker and Oskars Bartulis - both cleared. Bartulis will be sent to Adirondack of the AHL. Walker, meanwhile, will stay with the Flyers.

In a crazy turn of events, Walker went from being a player the Flyers were willing to lose on waivers to being in the lineup for the opener, winning the No. 6 defensman job in camp.

Here is how the lineup will look for tomorrow night's game - and yes, these are your line combinations and defensive pairings.

van Riemsdyk-Giroux-Jagr



Andreas Lilja is a healthy scratch. Jody Shelly is also on the roster, but is suspended for the first five games of the season.

Ian Laperriere also remains on the roster as a technicality for the first day, but will likely be placed on the long-term injury list once the Flyers need to make another roster move.

For now the Flyers are, as always, right up against the salary cap, operating at a measly 65,374 below the $63.4 million cap figure.

It seems the plan is to roll with this roster until Braden Schenn is ready to be recalled, at which point, Laperriere would be placed on the long-term injured list, and another player would be sent back to the minors - likely Rinaldo, since he wouldn't have to clear waivers.

If they did that, the Flyers would then be just 86,905 under the salary cap - still not a desirable number.

The reason the Flyers find themselves in this strict bind is the $1.4 million in bonus overages they are paying against the cap this season from last season.

The reason they had such a high bonus overage was the amount of time players spent on the long-term injury list last season - namely Laperriere and Michael Leighton. That allowed the Flyers to operate above the salary cap, but because of that, they didn't have the room to pay out earned bonus money to players for reaching certain triggers in their individual contracts.

As such, that bonus overage has to count against this season's cap. And, once Laperriere is placed on long-term injury this season, it could have a similarly adverse affect on next season's cap figure.

The Flyers also find themselves in an undesirable position of not having a spare forward for the first five games because of the Shelley suspension.

If there's an injury, the only choices the Flyers would have would be to place Laperriere on LTIR sooner than they would like, send Couturier back to junior or waive another player entirely - none of which are options the Flyers particularly like.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


O.K.... here it goes, my educated guess at who makes the Flyers and who doesn't.

Just to clarify, I'll have a more detailed explanation on the reasons behind these guesses online later tomorrow, but I wanted to get them out there now for you all to discuss.

So, without further ado... the 2011-12 Flyers - as I think it'll turn out:

James Van Riemsdyk
Claude Giroux
Jaromir Jagr
Scott Hartnell
Danny Briere
Jakub Voracek
Matt Read
Sean Couturier
Wayne Simmonds
Zac Rinaldo
Blair Betts
Max Talbot
Jody Shelley


-Couturier beats out Brayden Schenn, who was limited in camp by a shoulder injury. Schenn can be sent to the AHL for what would be an extended camp of sorts while Couturier either has to stick or go back to Drummondville of the QMJHL. The Flyers will at least give him nine games, but I'm betting he sticks. The coaches love his maturity.

-Read makes the roster, but could be sent down for one day as the Flyers have to technically carry Ian Laperriere's salary on the roster for the first day before placing him on injured reserve.

- Shelley's salary counts against the cap while he serves a five-game suspension. The Flyers could keep another player in that spot in his place, but the player would have to be inexpensive as they are tight to the salary cap.

-What becomes of Andreas Nodl? Good question. Maybe he's the guy that they were talking with Nashville about.

Defensemen: (7)
Chris Pronger
Matt Carle
Kimmo Timonen
Braydon Coburn
Andrej Meszaros
Matt Walker
Andreas Lilja


-Erik Gustafsson can be sent back to the Phantoms with no problem. Oskars Bartulis is a different animal. He has to go through waivers. I'm not sure he makes it. That means the Flyers could try and trade him too. He has value at such a cap-friendly salary ($600,000 for each of the next two seasons).

Goalies: (2)
Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

This roster would leave the Flyers with roughly $755,000 in salary cap space. Not ideal, but manageable.

So... what do you think?