April 28, 2000 |
While Flyers rookie goaltender Brian Boucher appreciates the comparisons to Ron Hextall and that terrific playoff run Hextall had in 1987 as a Flyers rookie, he is quick to point out that, unlike the then-irascible Hextall, he doesn't get agitated in the crease. So when the Pittsburgh Penguins' Matthew Barnaby announced this week that he would try his best to distract and annoy Boucher, the Flyers goalie wasn't biting. "Wasn't that the year [Hextall] slashed [Kent] Nilsson on the back of the leg?"
April 13, 2000 |
Much has changed in the life of young Brian Boucher since September. Back then, he was a Flyers goalie prospect. Since then, he has turned 23, played 35 NHL games, finished first in the NHL in goals-against average (1.91), and unseated the veteran John Vanbiesbrouck as the club's No. 1 stopper. Tonight, when the club opens the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Buffalo Sabres, he will become the Flyers' first rookie to tend goal in the postseason since Ron Hextall did so in 1987.
April 8, 2000 |
The news was announced and received in a matter-of-fact way, maybe because at this point it was hardly a surprise. Flyers interim coach Craig Ramsay told reporters yesterday afternoon that 23-year-old rookie goalie Brian Boucher will start the final two games of the regular season and Game 1 of the playoffs on Thursday, against an opponent yet to be determined. Ramsay said that when he delivered the news to Boucher, his reaction was, "OK. " There was no whooping and leaping about the room, not even a smile, which reassured Ramsay that Boucher was indeed mature enough to become the first rookie goalie to carry the Flyers into the playoffs since Ron Hextall won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP in 1987.
November 11, 1999 |
Brian Boucher might be playing tonight. Or not. Earlier in the week, starting Boucher in net against Carolina seemed to be the plan, but Flyers coach Roger Neilson has stopped announcing his goalie, to try to keep the other team guessing. So Boucher said yesterday he wasn't sure, and Neilson told reporters, "You're on your own to guess. " It's possible Neilson was waiting until reporters left to tell the goalies of his decision, or Boucher might have just been sworn to secrecy.
November 2, 1999 |
For most hockey teams on West Coast swings, the philosophy has been something like this: Do a little bonding, unwind, and play some good games. But in recent years, the Flyers' trips to California haven't been good. Two years ago, they won just one of three games. Last season, they headed west the second week in February with an eight-game unbeaten streak, Roger Neilson still in his honeymoon phase. Things seemed to be falling into place. A couple of days into the trip, the team began to unravel.
September 13, 1999
Omerta alive and well I represent Philip Narducci, who is seriously troubled by an article (Aug. 17) by Kitty Capparella that mentioned him in an incident that allegedly occurred during the arrest of Joseph Ligambi. The article states that Mr. Narducci was present at the arrest and made certain statements. While it is in fact true that he was present, Mr. Narducci never said, as the article alleges, that he "can't believe this. " Further, the agent never asked him to testify.
September 11, 1999 |
You might say that 27-year-old Neil Little has become the forgotten goalie at this year's Flyers training camp. The talk since last May from Flyer management has been how Brian Boucher, 22, would likely replace Ron Hextall as John Vanbiesbrouck's backup. If not him, then Jean-Marc Pelletier, who is a year younger than Boucher. No one has suggested that Little, who was invited to this camp at assistant GM Paul Holmgren's request, has even a remote chance of making the team.
September 10, 1999 |
There was something different, something odd about the first scrimmages of the Flyers' training camp, and it wasn't just that Ron Hextall was sitting up in a high corner of Peterborough Memorial Centre with the other scouts, instead of clanging his stick against the goal posts. Unless you were there well before the first scrimmage, which started a little after 9 a.m., you didn't see Eric Lindros or John LeClair. The Flyers' top two scorers, rehabbing back injuries, skated for about 40 minutes with a few coaches and some other injured players.
September 7, 1999 |
Assistant general manager Hextall? GM Hextall, even? Down the road a ways, it could happen. The team's current president and GM, Bob Clarke, left no doubt yesterday he saw his newest pro scout as someone with a future on the management side. And that scout, Ron Hextall, left no doubt he was interested in such a future. "His family has been in the NHL since his grandfather [Bryan Sr.], his dad [Bryan Jr.], his uncle [Dennis]. They know hockey, their life has been hockey.
September 7, 1999 |
In the end, Ron Hextall chose a dignified exit. The Flyers' all-time winningest goalie (240 victories) ended his 13-year NHL career by announcing his retirement yesterday. He will accept a position with the team in the scouting department. "I thought about it all summer," said Hextall, 35. "In the end, I felt the right thing to do was call it a career. " Hextall was placed on waivers in June to allow the Flyers a roster spot for the upcoming season in which either Brian Boucher or Jean-Marc Pelletier is expected to succeed him as backup to John Vanbiesbrouck.