Inside the Flyers: Former Kings rooting for old team, still happy to be Flyers

Rookie Brayden Schenn battled injuries and finished with 12 goals in 54 games. "I couldn't ask for anything better," he said of being in Philadelphia.
Rookie Brayden Schenn battled injuries and finished with 12 goals in 54 games. "I couldn't ask for anything better," he said of being in Philadelphia. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 04, 2012

Now that upstart Los Angeles is in the Stanley Cup Finals, it would be only natural if two certain Flyers felt a twinge of disappointment that they weren't part of the Kings' surprising playoff run.

Forwards Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn cut their teeth with the Kings before being dealt to the Flyers last June in the shocking deal that sent captain Mike Richards to the Left Coast.

Simmonds and Schenn are rooting for the Kings to bring home their first Cup since the franchise started in 1967-68, but have no regrets about the trade. Both were given increased roles with the Flyers, and both took advantage - especially Simmonds, who scored a career-high 28 goals, including 11 on the power play.

During the Flyers' abbreviated playoff run, Simmonds kidded that the Kings were thriving "because they got rid of me."

Simmonds, 23, whom the Kings selected in the second round of the 2007 draft, and Schenn still have lots of friends on Los Angeles. Simmonds played his first three years with the Kings and lived with Kings star defenseman Drew Doughty for two seasons. He said he "learned how to be defensively responsible from Terry Murray," the former L.A. coach. "They kind of stress defense first, and that's kind of the way the team plays."

Schenn, a 20-year-old rookie who was chosen by Los Angeles in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2009 draft, overcame an injury-plagued start and finished with 12 goals in 54 games this season.

"I couldn't ask for anything better," Schenn said. "I'm happy to be in Philadelphia. We have a good team here. This wasn't our year, and the Kings got hot at the right time. Hopefully, our chance will come soon."

Schenn is still close with several Kings, most notably center Trevor Lewis, Doughty, Jarret Stoll, and winger Kyle Clifford.

"I try not to bother them during the playoffs, but I talked to them throughout the year," said Schenn, who considers Simmonds one of his closest friends in hockey.

The Flyers used seven rookies in the playoffs and 12 during their 103-point regular season. If they can add a key player or two (Zach Parise? Ryan Suter?) in the offseason, they are expected to be stronger contenders next season.

The Flyers are counting on players like Schenn to continue to blossom. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound center has at least 25-goal potential, and the Flyers would like to see him improve his defensive play.

"We had a lot of young, first-year guys come together this season," said Schenn, who was minus-7 in his first full campaign. "Next year, we won't have as many new faces and guys will be more comfortable, and I think expectations will be high. We have a bright future."

Next season, Schenn will try to do what Simmonds did this year - take his game to another level. On Monday, Schenn will begin training in Saskatchewan with his brother, Luke, a Toronto defenseman who has been linked in trade rumors to the Flyers. Late in the summer, the Schenn brothers will be among about 25 NHL players - including stars like Shea Weber and Dany Heatley - who train in Kelowna, British Columbia.

Hockey is different than it was when the Flyers won their last Stanley Cup in 1975. Much different. Players come to camp in much better shape now, prepared for the long grind.

For the Kings and Devils, teams that finished eighth- and sixth-seeded in their respective conferences, that grind could last as long as June 13.

"They're showing," Schenn said of a team known as Flyers West because of all its Philadelphia connections, "that if you just get in the top eight, crazy things can happen."

They didn't happen for the Flyers this spring as they were thoroughly outplayed by the Devils in a disappointing Round 2 showing, but with numerous rookies getting their indoctrination to the playoffs, much more will be expected next season.

Who knows? Maybe at this time next year, Simmonds and Schenn will have people calling their team Kings East.


Inside the Flyers:

Kings rolling

Only three NHL teams, led by Los Angeles, have winning records in this year's playoffs. Here are the top eight playoff records heading into Saturday night:

Team W-L

 Los Angeles 13-2

New Jersey 12-7

Phoenix 9-7

Rangers 10-10

Washington 7-7

Nashville 5-5

Flyers 5-6

St. Louis 4-5

- Sam Carchidi

 


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com, or

folow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

 

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