Flyers' Laviolette eager to get training camp started

Coach Peter Laviolette : In his first full season.
Coach Peter Laviolette : In his first full season.
Posted: September 17, 2010

Ask the Flyers about their summer, and most of them will give some version of the same answer: "It was short, but that's a nice problem to have."

The extended season, as part of a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, was the nice part, of course. But the result - a 4-2 series loss to the Chicago Blackhawks - has coach Peter Laviolette itching to get training camp under way.

"It seems like we've been here, sitting around waiting for the season to start," Laviolette said. "But that's just me. You might go ask [the players] and they might tell you [their summer] was ridiculously short. But I just feel like enough time has gone by.

"Let's go back to work. Let's start working again. Let's start another journey and see if we could go further."

The journey officially begins Friday, when 65 players report to training camp. Each practice and scrimmage at the Skate Zone in Voorhees is open to the public.

There's a subtle makeover (new road uniforms), a couple of departures (winger Simon Gagne being the big one), additions (forward Nikolai Zherdev, defenseman Matt Walker), and some constants (no significant goaltending acquisitions).

Earlier this week, defenseman Chris Pronger skated for the first time since the Stanley Cup Finals. The 35-year-old, who had minor surgery on his right knee, says it's too early to determine whether he will play in any preseason games. He's also uncertain if it will ever be "100 percent."

Right winger Bill Guerin is on board on a tryout basis. James van Riemsdyk, 21, the second-year left winger, returns after posting 15 goals, including six game-winners. Mike Richards returns as team captain. And Laviolette starts his first training camp with the Flyers.

Hired in December to replace head coach John Stevens, who lost six of his final seven games, Laviolette was handed a hefty workload immediately. He signed Dec. 4, starting work the following day with seven games in 11 days.

"It was just not a lot of time to do anything," Laviolette said. "Whatever that identity is that you want with your team and the way you want them to play - there wasn't a lot of time to practice it.

"Now there's a chance to put things into place. There's a chance to work on conditioning. There's a chance to get players to get comfortable when stakes aren't so high."

Laviolette's start - losing four of his first five games - almost mirrored Stevens' departure. But Laviolette guided the Flyers into the postseason. They earned a seventh seed, clawed out of a three-goal deficit in Game 7 of the conference semi-finals, and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals.

"We came a long way," Laviolette said, "but in the end there's no other way describe it other than disappointing. It's just disappointing. Training camp provides a new book for this team. It's not last year's team. This is a completely different team, and we've got to grow together. We've got to take our own strides."

The Flyers remained busy in the off-season.

Laviolette completed the move into his new South Jersey residence. Kimmo Timonen returned home to Finland. Matt Carle got married. Ian Laperriere did some traveling with family. And Ville Leino went to a handful of concerts.

Yet, through all that, the season-ending loss weighed heavily on them.

"It feels like it's 120 games down the drain," Timonen said.

Some players say they will use last season's ultimate failure as motivation. Others will try to learn from that experience and move on.

"Everything we did last year doesn't count anymore," right winger Danny Briere said. "We have to start at zero. But, at the same time, we could use that momentum going forward. Looking at last year, I think we got better and better as the season went on. And I feel this year we're a better team coming into this season."

Notes. The Flyers held on-ice testing Thursday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. In one drill, players sprinted the length of the ice, then from the goal line to the blue line twice and another length of the ice. They repeated the conditioning drill four times.

Pronger didn't participate in the testing. He did, however, take a brief spin around the ice for the second day in a row.


Contact staff writer Mario Aguirre at 215-854-4550 or maguirre@phillynews.com.

Staff writer Keith Pompey contributed to this article.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|