September 23, 2015 |
ALLENTOWN - Only minutes after stepping off the ice from his first morning skate during his first training camp, and a few hours before a bus took him to his first preseason NHL game, Travis Konecny acknowledged he was nervous. A year ago, he said, he was watching players such as Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek on highlight shows. Yesterday, he skated in the same morning skate with them, took the same bus and sat on the same bench. The Flyers' second first-round pick of June's draft shared the ice with them, too. And, all things considered, it was an impressive debut for the 18-year-old winger, in the Flyers' 5-3 win over the New York Islanders in a split-squad game.
September 22, 2015 |
EVEN IF yesterday's scrimmage on Day 3 of training camp wasn't tied at the end of "regulation," the Flyers probably would have done a five-minute, three-on-three session anyway. They're going to need to get used to it, as the NHL Board of Governors approved the new overtime format of a five-minute, three-on-three session effective this season. The goal, in theory, is to have fewer games reach a shootout, a goal that would appear to benefit the Flyers. The Flyers finished 14 points out of a playoff spot last season, when they were 3-11 in shootouts.
September 20, 2015 |
IT WASN'T uncommon to see a Flyers player hunched over, using his stick to hold himself up at points throughout yesterday's first training camp session. There was even a time when captain Claude Giroux ended a one-on-one battle drill that finished with a missed shot on goal by taking a knee in the corner and waiting his turn in line. "I'm pretty tired, I'm not going to lie," Giroux said. "It's good. When you work hard during practice, it kind of becomes a habit during a game.
September 19, 2015 |
For a measure of how far Jake Voracek has come over his career with the Flyers, consider how far his new coach was willing to go just to share a meal with him. In June, Dave Hakstol flew 4,000 miles for a two-hour dinner of what Voracek called "Czech food and Czech beer," for a chance to speak face-to-face with him, for the sake of a show of respect. If the whirlwind trip to the Czech Republic had the scent of a coach with no NHL experience trying to curry favor, Voracek was quick to make something clear: Hakstol didn't have to hop on that plane.
September 14, 2015 |
As a player, Ron Hextall was combative, a goalie who was not shy about going after an opposing player (see Chelios, Chris) if he felt it was warranted. As a general manager, Hextall is measured in his words and extremely soft-spoken and analytical, but you can sense the same burning desire to bring a Stanley Cup to the Flyers and their fans. In an interview last week, the second-year general manager, coming off a disappointing 33-31-18 season, said he believes the Flyers are a playoff team, that he needs more from several of his players - including captain Claude Giroux - and that the door is open (but not very wide)
September 13, 2015 |
Maybe it was the cannoli. Maybe it was the ferocious defense. With a dominating 10-sack performance last week, there was definitely defense. But after Temple's shocking 27-10 win over Penn State on Saturday - a career high point for a rising young coach and one of the greatest victories in the Philadelphia university's history - coach Matt Rhule wasn't taking any chances. His Owls have a tall challenge ahead, meeting conference favorite Cincinnati on its home field Saturday, and that assured one thing as he prepared this week for the game: lunch at Mr. Joe's Cafe in South Philly.
August 7, 2015 |
THIS WAS always the situation the Flyers and their two top-line stars would be in when this offseason started. Jakub Voracek's 81 points last season and three straight seasons of solid production made it obvious he wasn't going to hit free agency when his four-year deal ran out after next season. The only question that needed an answer was how much the right wing, who turns 26 next Saturday, would command from the Flyers. That question was answered last week when general manager Ron Hextall locked in the Czech Republic native by extending him through the 2024 season with a salary-cap hit of $8.25 million per year, just under the $8.275 million of his linemate, captain Claude Giroux.
July 31, 2015 |
JAKUB VORACEK missed a few putts toward the end of his golf round yesterday afternoon. It wasn't because of the sweltering heat index or a late-afternoon thunderstorm. It was because of excitement. He'd just agreed to the richest free-agent contract of the summer. General manager Ron Hextall, fresh off a contract extension agreement with Sean Couturier on Tuesday, locked up the team's leading scorer from the 2014-15 season - signing Voracek to a reported eight-year, $66 million contract extension, which carries a salary-cap hit of $8.25 million annually.
May 22, 2015 |
THE FLYERS signed free-agent right wing Aaron Palushaj to a one-year deal yesterday, with the hope that he can parlay a successful season in the world's second-best league into to a full-time NHL depth position. According to a source, Palushaj's deal is a two-way (NHL/AHL) contract that will pay him $575,000 in the NHL and $225,000 in the AHL. Palushaj, 25, is an American who spent the last season playing in Russia's KHL, scoring 21 points in 53 games. A precipitous drop in the Russian ruble last December halved the value of most contracts, making guaranteed American money a lot more attractive to players, especially those who hail from North America.
May 21, 2015 |
DAVE HAKSTOL joked that his best play as a defenseman in the International Hockey League in the mid-1990s was "off the glass and out" of the zone. Thankfully, that philosophy will not be part of his game plan as the Flyers' 19th head coach. Hakstol aptly summed up his coaching style in four words during his 20 minutes on the dais at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday. Accountability. Speed. Structure. Transition. All four words were staples of his teams at the University of North Dakota.