August 20, 2015 |
WHEN IT CAME time for Daniel Briere to decide in 2007 where his future in hockey would continue, the Quebec native was at a crossroads. The diminutive forward who many thought was too small and fragile to play in the National Hockey League was coming off a career-high 95-point season with Buffalo. The Sabres had the most wins in the league in the 2006-07 season and fell in the conference finals for the second straight season. But the one-year, $5 million contract awarded to him in arbitration the prior offseason had expired, and it was time for him to decide his future.
May 29, 2015 |
TWO MONTHS after Radel Fazleev commanded the attention of Flyers president Paul Holmgren and top Western Canada scout Mark Greig during a visit in Calgary, Fazleev has checked off one of his career goals. The Flyers signed Fazleev, a low-risk, high-reward sixth-round pick to a three-year, entry-level contract Thursday. Fazleev, picked 168th overall last June, wowed Holmgren during one of his Calgary Hitmen games when the Flyers were at the Saddledome in March. He played in just about every situation in Calgary, on the second-unit power play and penalty kill, and earned a reputation for his hunger for loose pucks.
May 22, 2015 |
Jim Montgomery played with Ron Hextall and coached against Dave Hakstol, and he regards them with the same measure of respect, with an appreciation for each's intelligence and open-mindedness. He was a fourth-line center on the 1994-95 Flyers, on a club that reached the Eastern Conference finals with Hextall as its No. 1 goaltender, and over Montgomery's two seasons as a college hockey head coach, his teams at the University of Denver played Hakstol's at North Dakota to a draw: three victories for Denver, three for ND, one tie. He knows the Flyers well.
May 21, 2015 |
By selecting the University of North Dakota's Dave Hakstol to direct the Flyers, first-year general manager Ron Hextall showed he is a risk-taker. "I was never a guy when I played to make the careful move or careful play," Hextall said after he surprised the hockey world by selecting a coach from the collegiate ranks on Monday. "It was always do what you think is right, do it your best, and that's what I feel like I have done by hiring Dave. I believe he is going to be a terrific hire for this organization.
May 20, 2015 |
Dave Hakstol was talking to a TV camera in another room of the Wells Fargo Center, a city that pays little attention to college hockey still buzzing and puzzled by his ascension to the NHL, and Ron Hextall descended from a dais and stepped in front of a black drape dotted with Flyers insignias. Before Hextall, the Flyers' general manager, began answering follow-up questions about his decision to hire Hakstol as the team's head coach, his predecessor, Paul Holmgren, approached him. The two had carpooled to the news conference from the Flyers' practice facility in Voorhees, and Holmgren grabbed Hextall's left hand, turned it palm-side up, and dropped a ring of car keys into it. "I'll drive myself back," Holmgren said to him. Ten months have passed since Hextall replaced Holmgren as GM, but for reasons of substance and symbolism, Monday marked the true beginning of Hextall's tenure - and of a new era for the Flyers franchise.
May 19, 2015 |
NEW YORK - Jon Cooper is the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jon Marchessault is a 24-year-old center who has appeared in two regular-season games and two postseason games for the Lightning. Jonathan Drouin is a 20-year-old left winger who was Tampa Bay's first-round draft pick in 2013 and scored four goals in 70 games as a rookie this season. Braydon Coburn is around these three men every day, and maybe it speaks to how fully he has assimilated himself into the Lightning's culture and environment since the Flyers traded him 21/2 months ago that, when he was asked Sunday to reflect on that trade, he misidentified the man who made it. "There's a new GM there in Jon Hextall," Coburn said after the Lightning, down one game to none to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals, practiced at Madison Square Garden.
May 8, 2015 |
PLUG IN Sam Hinkie's name to the YouTube search bar and here are some of the top entries: "Sam Hinkie on Patience and Analytics"; "Sam Hinkie at the 2014 Draft Lottery"; And, my personal favorite, "Who is Sam Hinkie?" Plug in Chip Kelly's name to the YouTube search bar and you get an assortment of press conferences, play breakdowns and, as of yesterday, some ridiculous race-baiting from the mouth of LeSean McCoy. Plug in Ruben Amaro Jr. and there are even more press conferences, even one of him crying as he fired Charlie Manuel as manager in the summer of 2013.
April 19, 2015 |
The Flyers continued their coaching carousel Friday. Craig Berube was fired after the Flyers failed to make the playoffs in his first full season with the team. The Flyers went 33-31-18, including a 10-20-11 mark on the road. Overall, they were just 8-18 in games that went beyond regulation, and 3-11 in shootouts. General manager Ron Hextall, Berube's teammate during five of his seasons with the Flyers, said the dismissal was not an easy decision. "Craig Berube is a good friend of mine," Hextall said.
April 15, 2015 |
If the Flyers fire Craig Berube this week - and the drumbeat emanating from Ice Station Groundhog is certainly familiar - the lucky new coach, whomever he is, will be the team's 10th in the last 20 years. It's quite a list, traveling all the way from Terry Murray to Berube, with station stops at Wayne Cashman, Roger Neilson, Craig Ramsay, Bill Barber, Ken Hitchcock, John Stevens and Peter Laviolette. Here's the funny thing about the coaches on that list, and it tells you more about the nature of the franchise than it does about the respective abilities of the coaches or the quality of the teams with which they were entrusted.
April 8, 2015 |
After they play their final three games this week and then watch the playoffs on TV, the sad reality will hit the Flyers: They wasted a career season by goalie Steve Mason - despite what a certain NBC "analyst" says about him. Mason, who turns 27 next month and believes he has not yet reached his prime, has finally given the Flyers an elite goaltender. But despite his being among the NHL's leaders in save percentage and goals-against average, the team will miss the playoffs for the second time in three years.