Flyers stick with van Riemsdyk

van Riemsdyk
van Riemsdyk
Posted: February 28, 2012

SAN JOSE - Stepping onto the ice yesterday, James van Riemsdyk did not yet know whether it would be his last twirl in a Flyers uniform. He thought he was safe, but he wasn't sure - as last-minute trades trickle into the league office just minutes after the 3 o'clock deadline.

For weeks, or even months, van Riemsdyk heard the trade rumors. He watched them on television. He received texts from friends. They were unescapable.

Yesterday, one fan at the Sharks Ice practice facility yelled to him: "Glad you're still on the team!" It was just about as uncomfortable as the last month or so for van Riemsdyk. He replied with a shrug and "Thanks."

When van Riemsdyk completed practice and returned to the cramped locker room to unlace his skates, he was not summoned to the coach's office. It was business as usual.

Despite a late push from the local San Jose Sharks, according to multiple reports, the deadline came and went without much drama.

"You've got to be ready," van Riemsdyk said. "It's part of the game. It's part of playing a professional sport. I'm obviously happy to be here, I think we've got a great group of guys here."

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren confirmed that van Riemsdyk received interest from more than a few teams, though he says the Flyers never had an interest in moving him.

"I can't do anything when other teams call about him," Holmgren said via conference call in Philadelphia. "James is signed here for a long time. I've talked to James a number of times over the season, and I think he feels comfortable."

The Flyers signed van Riemsdyk to a 6-year, $25.5 million extension last August, though the general consensus around the league is that the team has not been thrilled with his development during a frustrating, injury-riddled season.

But the Flyers weren't ready to give up on him.

Van Riemsdyk, 23, is on pace to finish with 36 points in 62 games - which would be a four-point dropoff from last regular season.

Along the way, he's missed 15 games with a concussion and five with an abdominal muscle tear. Also, van Riemsdyk may require offseason surgery to repair a cam impingement in his hip. Van Riemsdyk said last week there is "always more behind the scenes than what meets the eye."

"Since he's been back in the lineup, I think he's been a good player for us," Holmgren said. "It's his third year now in the league, he's been involved in some playoff games over the last couple of years and was a particularly good player for us last year in the playoffs, so I would expect him to continue to get better."

Now, with his health back and the rumors silenced, van Riemsdyk can focus on returning to the playoff player who dazzled last spring. He tried to play it cool, but when he pulled off his familiar Flyers jersey and shoulder pads after practice, more than the normal weight was lifted.

"To be honest, I hadn't really thought about it too much," he said. "Doing that, you're just going to affect your game. I'm just happy to be back in the lineup, thrilled to be healthy. I'm happy to still be here, happy to still be a part of this. I think we're getting ready to do big things."


Contact Frank Seravalli at seravaf@phillynews.com or @DNFlyers on Twitter. Read his blog at philly.com/frequentflyers.

 

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