Flyers, Betts fail to reach deal

James van Riemsdyk will make his NHL debut tomorrow.
James van Riemsdyk will make his NHL debut tomorrow.
Posted: October 01, 2009

IT'S OFFICIAL.

All bets are off. At least those betting on whether Blair Betts will be in the lineup for tomorrow night's regular-season opener in Carolina.

Yesterday, the Flyers announced their 22-man roster to open the season and Betts is not on it. In camp on a tryout contract, the Flyers made it clear that they would like to sign Betts and Betts made it clear that he would like to be a Flyer.

But the two sides have not been able to come to an agreement.

"We're at the same place we were," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. "We're working through things."

Holmgren would not say what the hang up is in the negotiations. Betts earned $615,000 last year with the Rangers and would probably be due a small raise. The length of contract is not likely a deal breaker as Holmgren said that the club would discuss both 1- and 2-year deals.

The whole "saga," as Holmgren called it, has left Betts baffled. Both sides have known since the first preseason game that he would be a good fit in Philadelphia, exactly 2 weeks ago from yesterday.

Betts was hoping to have heard something when the two sides first began to negotiate seriously on Monday.

"I have no idea," Betts said, clearly frustrated, after practice. "As the player, I honestly don't know.

"They said they need a little bit more time and we are waiting to hear from [the Flyers]."

Two phone calls by the Daily News to Betts' agent, Steve Kotlowitz with the Edmonton-based Sports Corporation, went unreturned.

Betts excels in the faceoff circle and could be a fixture on the team's first penalty killing unit if he can strike an accord with the Flyers. Playing more minutes on the penalty kill, he would take pressure off of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux.

"We need a guy like him," defenseman Danny Syvret said. "He is a good player and he brings a lot to this team. He would definitely take a load off of some of the other players."

Betts is an unrestricted free agent and is free to sign with any team at any time. But he said after practice that he has not spoken to other teams.

"It's either we're staying here," Betts said, "or if we're not staying here then we'll figure something else out.

"I'm confident something will happen."

Holmgren wasn't as confident.

"I don't know," Holmgren said. "We'll see how it goes over the next day. If we don't have anything done by tomorrow, it probably won't happen."

Young and safe

As expected, James van Riemsdyk, Mika Pyorala and Danny Syvret will all be on the Flyers' opening night roster. Both van Riemsdyk and Pyorala will make their NHL debuts tomorrow.

"It is something you dream about when you were a little kid," van Riemsdyk said. "To finally be here and knowing that your first game is a couple days away is just a huge thrill. This is very exciting."

Syvret made the biggest jump, leaping over both Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and Randy Jones to become the Flyers' sixth defenseman.

Tollefsen - who brings grit and bite to the Flyers' blue line - is penciled in as the extra defenseman. He continues to be nagged by various nicks and bruises. He is currently hampered by a sore hip but also took a puck in the face in practice earlier in the preseason. Holmgren said he could be available this weekend if needed.

Look for van Riemsdyk to skate on a line with Claude Giroux and Arron Asham and Pyorala to stick with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne. Both players will see significant minutes this year if they can stay consistent.

Jones loaned

Paul Holmgren ended all speculation about what the Flyers would do with defenseman Randy Jones when he announced after yesterday's practice that the blue-liner was loaned to Adirondack.

Jones turned heads at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees yesterday afternoon when he was on the ice with the Flyers after he was waived by the team last weekend.

Jones went unclaimed. He still will earn his entire $3 million salary in the AHL and will stay in Glens Falls, N.Y., with the Phantoms unless the Flyers need to call him up because of injury. At that point, he would be subject to re-entry waivers and may be claimed at half price, with the Flyers paying the other half.

Slap shots

Injured backup goaltender Brian Boucher still counts against the salary cap but not against the Flyers' active roster . . . The Flyers' home opener is just 5 days away, against Washington on Oct. 6 . . . Are you looking to make a New Year's Day trip to Fenway Park to watch the Flyers? Even if you are a season ticketholder, you are eligible to enter the NHL's lottery for the right to purchase tickets to the Winter Classic. You just have to register on NHL.com by Monday.

For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at http://go.philly.com/frequentflyers.

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