Read's travels are taking him to All-Star skills event

Posted: January 26, 2012

ON TUESDAY, Flyers forward Matt Read finally got a chance to catch up by phone with his college hockey coach, Bemidji State University's Tom Serratore. It was the first time they had spoken in "a while."

Sitting in his hotel room in South Florida, Read was reminded by Serratore where he's been and where he is going this weekend.

Eight months ago, Read was playing for Serratore in Bemidji, Minn. He was an ice hockey candidate for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.

This weekend, Daniel Alfredsson and Zdeno Chara will be debating about which drills to use him in for Saturday's All-Star SuperSkills Competition, as one of 12 rookies selected to represent their teams in Ottawa. Teammate Sean Couturier will join him in the festivities.

"It goes through my mind quite a bit, actually," Read said. "Like, 'God, you're playing in the NHL.' I was just playing my senior season and I had no idea what would happen."

Even today, it's all a little hard to believe. Read, 25, was pursued heavily by the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets following his junior season. The Wild wasn't thrilled with his age, since few would still consider him a prospect. He decided to return for a senior season.

He was nominated for the Hobey Baker Award, the hockey equivalent of the Heisman. The Flyers - with one of the league's toughest lineups to crack - lured him away with a 3-year, $2.7 million deal that would pay him the same no matter what level he played.

Now, as if making the Flyers out of training camp wasn't a small enough miracle, Read leads all rookies in goals (15) and is third in points (31). He has more points than Danny Briere, James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek at the NHL's unofficial midway point.

Yet, Read still doesn't feel as if he belongs in even Saturday night's competition.

"It's the best guys in the NHL," Read said. "I feel like I would have no chance. I think my best thing would maybe be accurate shot, but I really have no clue."

For Read, that's been the story of most of his life. Read moved from town to town as a child, since his father, Lorne, is in the Canadian military.

Officially, Read lists Ilderton, Ontario, a suburb of London, as his hometown. It's a small town nestled 2 hours northeast of Detroit and 2 hours southwest of Toronto. But Ilderton pops up only because that's where he went to high school.

Read was born in Calgary and lived there until he was 4. He spent the next 6 years in Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia - which is on Vancouver Island due west of Seattle - and got hooked on hockey there.

He lived in Colorado Springs, Colo., for the next 4 years, during middle school until eighth grade. And that's when he finally landed in Ilderton, just until he went to play junior hockey on his own in Des Moines, Iowa, before attending Bemidji State.

Read's parents, Lorne and Nancy, have since moved to frigid Whitehorse, Yukon, which is 700 miles east of Anchorage, Alaska. It took Read a few seconds to think about all of his stops along the way.

"I think moving around gave me some character," Read said. "It's a personality trait. Every year, you'd have a new team and a new bunch of guys. I think it always helped me, going to a new spot, to make a team and start from scratch. That's kind of like me, this summer, I started from scratch and I got to try out [with the Flyers]. You've got to make the best of those opportunities."

Read said family and friends will join him in Ottawa, though he had not yet begun to stress about performing at ScotiaBank Place with the entire hockey world - and all those former teammates and coaches - watching live on television. Maybe, Read said, he would make new friends among his fellow All-Stars.

"Hopefully, I'll get to meet some of the guys and get to know them outside of hockey," Read said. "It will be interesting to get to pick their brains a little bit and see how they see hockey differently. I guess I'm a quiet guy, because I never had the same friends growing up. But I like being a listener, I guess, trying to learn as much as I can about people. Hopefully, I can make the best out of everything."

Slap shots

So much for a break: Harry Zolnierczyk, Ben Holmstrom and Tom Sestito were all reassigned to AHL Adirondack yesterday. All three skated against Manchester last night for the Phantoms. They also are available for both games this weekend against Albany and Bridgeport . . . For the rest of the Flyers' players, practice resumes at 4 p.m. Monday . . . Willie O'Ree, the first player to break hockey's color barrier in 1958, spoke at Camden's Davis Elementary School yesterday afternoon before visiting the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation at the Flyers' Skate Zone in Pennsauken.

For more news and analysis,

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