Archive for July, 2008

Flyers Prospect Camp

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 30, 2008 by flyersfan44

Flyers' prospects at the Skate Zone in VoorheesI took a day last week to visit the Flyers Prospect Camp at their training facility in Voorhees, New Jersey.  The camp was held over an eight day period with one day devoted to a running, cycling, and kayaking competition among the prospects at the Jersey Shore known as the “Trial on the Isle” at Stone Harbor.  In Voorhees, it was the typical drills and scrimmages.  It was nice to get an early look at some of the Flyers top prospects, notably James Van Riemsdyk, the #2 overall draft pick from 2007, this year’s first round pick Luca Sbisa, and the first round pick from 2006, Claude Giroux.  The day that I attended, none of those three really stood out, although both Van Riemsdyk and Giroux scored in the scrimmage. 

One player that caught my eye was Mario Kempe, who was a fifth round pick in 2007 and is playing in the QMJHL.  This guy is FAST.  He made a nice end to end rush for a goal during the scrimmage and was flying around the rink until, as you might espect as Flyers’ fans, he was injured.  He limped off the ice after a check against the boards, was looked at by the trainer, then was helped to the dressing room.  No word on the severity of the apparent knee injury.  Keep this guy in mind – he looks like a good prospect.

Another player who garnered some attention was Zac Rinaldo, a center who was a sixth round pick in this year’s draft.  He laid some good checks on people and was generally hitting everything that he came near.  Evidently trying to make an impact on management in addition to his opponents.

John Stevens Named Coach of the Year by The Hockey News

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on July 23, 2008 by flyersfan44

Flyers Coach John StevensFlyers’ coach John Stevens was named the 2008 NHL Coach of the Year by The Hockey News.  Recognizing Stevens for what they called an underrated turnaround by the Flyers, THN pointed out that the Flyers improved from last in the NHL in 2006-07 to sixth in their conference in 2007-08 with a 39-point improvement.  “The only coach who came close to matching that feat was Washington’s Bruce Boudreau (plus-24)”, The Hockey News said.  “That the Flyers toppled the Capitals in the first round of the playoffs, then upset the no. 1-seeded Canadiens in Round 2, carried significant weight in our decision.”

This is a well-deserved honor for Coach Stevens.  He works well with young players, displaying a calm demeanor behind the bench even in upsetting situations and shows patience as well.  Now, another real test for Stevens will be this coming season, when the Flyers will show whether they are really as good as they were in the playoffs or whether they were playing over their heads.  With a couple of new defensemen (Vaananen and Eminger), younger players needing to step up (Downie, Giroux, Parent), no big name free agent additions, and higher expectations based on last year’s playoffs, Stevens will have an opportunity to show how good of a choice this really was.

Flyers’ Assistant Coach Terry Murray Named Kings’ Head Coach

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on July 18, 2008 by flyersfan44

New Kings' coach Terry MurrayFlyers’ assistant coach and former head coach Terry Murray has been named the new head coach of the Los Angeles Kings.  Murray did an effective job in Philadelphia, especially working with the defensemen, and his experience and teaching ability will be missed by the Flyers.  He certainly has a tough job ahead of him in L.A., taking on a team that finished near the bottom last season and which is in rebuilding mode.  We wish him the best.  No word on a replacement as Flyers’ assistant, although the Flyers did just hire former defenseman Eric Desjardins to a player development position.

Flyers Will Open Season Against the Rangers

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on July 18, 2008 by flyersfan44

The NHL schedule for the 2008-09 season has been released and the Flyers will open the season at home against the rival New York Rangers on October 11.  The league schedule will be different this season, with each team playing at least one game against all other teams.  In previous years, an Eastern Conference team, for example, would play only certain teams from the West with more games against division rivals.  Now, fans will be able to see teams and players from the other conference at least once during the season.  The Flyers will now play six games against each division rival instead of eight.   The complete Flyers’ schedule may be viewed at the Flyers’ web site:

http://flyers.nhl.com/team/app?service=page&page=SubseasonSchedule

The complete league schedule may be viewed at the NHL web site:

http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app?service=page&page=SubseasonSchedule

It’s Official: Goodbye Spectrum, Goodbye Phantoms

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 16, 2008 by flyersfan44
The Spectrum The sad news came down officially today as Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider announced that the 2008-09 season would be the last for the Spectrum, the venerable arena that served as the Flyers’ first home when they came into existence in 1967.  Also hosting Sixers’ basketball, the Spectrum was replaced as the teams’ home in 1996 when the new CoreStates (now Wachovia) Center was constructed.  Most organizations felt it was necessary to build modern arenas that offered more amenities than the older stadiums were designed to offer, such as luxury boxes and more open concourses.  Of course, more revenue was generated with the premium seating and this was necessary because player salaries began to rise at higher and higher rates.  Hallowed structures such as the Montreal Forum and Boston Garden were replaced in the 1990s as well.   An entertainment and retail complex will eventually be built on the site of the Spectrum along with a hotel. 

The Spectrum will be greatly missed.  Although its usefulness has in many ways been outlived, there are many great memories that many Philadelphians have about the Spectrum.  Topping my list is the Flyers’ Stanley Cup-winning victory over Boston in 1974, the only time a championship was won by the Flyers or Sixers in Philadelphia. (Other championship-clinching games by those teams occurred on the road).   The Flyers 4-1 victory over the Soviet Red Army team in 1976 would also be a memorable event that occurred there.  The Phantoms of the AHL clinched the Calder Cup there in 1998.  Personally, the first live hockey game I ever saw was at the Spectrum, a pre-season game against Boston in October of 1975.  I still have vivid childhood memories of emerging from the subway into the cold air on a winter evening with the imposing home of my ice hockey heroes looming in the distance.  The air of expectation and excitement as I approached the building is something of which I am reminded still today whenever I enter or even drive past the building.  I suppose the memories will remain even when the Spectrum is gone, but it won’t be quite the same without seeing the arena that has been so much a part of Philadelphia hockey and sports history.  Although the Wachovia Center is great in terms of modern amenities, it doesn’t have quite the same intimacy as the Spectrum.  You just felt closer to the game in that arena and felt that you and the other fans were more intimidating in the more intimate atmosphere.   Remembering my usual seat in the last row of section 51 during the 1980s, there were some great times with the other regulars in that section, especially in the playoffs.  Not quite the same in the new building.

The AHL Phantoms will need to be relocated after next season.  This is another unfortunate casualty of the Spectrum’s demise.  The Flyers’ minor-league affiliate played some good, entertaining hockey at a reasonable price, which was welcome as Flyers’ ticket prices became unaffordably high for many fans.  Allentown and Atlantic City have been mentioned as possible relocations. 

Comcast-Spectacor has set up a web site devoted to the Spectrum: www.rememberthespectrum.com

2009 Winter Classic Set: Detroit vs. Chicago

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on July 9, 2008 by flyersfan44

Those of us hoping for the NHL Winter Classic of 2009  between the Flyers and Penguins at Penn State will have to keep waiting.  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting that the 2009 Winter Classic game on New Year’s Day will feature the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field, to be announced next week.  OK, not a bad choice: the Stanley Cup champions against an up-and-coming team with some good young players along with an historic rivalry.  The Winter Classic game last year was really unique and great for the NHL.  The snow just made it a perfect presentation.  I am glad the league appears committed to doing one of these each New Year’s Day.

The 2008 NHL Winter Classic

The 2008 NHL Winter Classic

Flyers Sign Aaron Asham, Lose Patrick Thoresen and Jason Smith

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 9, 2008 by flyersfan44

The Flyers added another fourth line player, this one with fighting ability, when they signed forward Aaron Asham to a two year deal.  The 30 year-old Asham played with the Devils last season, scoring ten points in 77 games and accumulating 84 penalty minutes.   Asham was described by GM Paul Holmgren as a hard-nosed, aggressive, character player.  He is also willing to drop the gloves.  Evidently, this move was made because the Flyers found out last week that winger Patrick Thoresen would not play for them this season, rejecting the Flyers’ offer of a two-way contract.  Thoresen wanted a one-way contract that would pay him the same amount even if he was sent to the minors.  Thoresen will play in Europe at least for the time being.  I liked Thoresen; I think he brought alot of determination and hustle which supposedly can be replaced by Asham, but the Flyers will lose some good speed.  Here is Asham displaying one of the reasons that he scored only six goals last year:

Here he is doing evidently what he does best:

Also announced was that defenseman (and captain) Jason Smith has signed with Ottawa.  It was expected that Smith would not be back with the Flyers as this was alluded to even back around mid-season.  This is puzzling to me – how is it that the Flyers indicated no expectation to re-sign him as early as February?  Then he signs with Ottawa for around $2.6 million per year.  Was this out of the Flyers’ price range if they had forgone the acquisition of a couple of the players they signed like Vaananen and Metropolit?  Makes me wonder if there wasn’t something else going on here.