Archive for Philadelphia Flyers

Leino’s Time Will Come

Posted in NHL, Philadelphia Flyers with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 2010 by tangentman

On February 6, 2010, The Flyers acquired Finnish left wing Ville Leino, 26, from the Detroit Red Wings. At the time, Detroit had players – star forward Johan Franzen, for one – ready to return to the lineup and the team needed to open a roster spot and clear some space under the salary cap.

In my eyes, this was a trade of opportunity for Flyers’ GM Paul Holmgren. The Flyers had a full complement of forwards and had just learned that goaltender Ray Emery would miss the rest of the season with a degenerative hip condition that could threaten his career, and while there wasn’t a clear place for Leino to play, Holmgren made the deal with what I believe to be an eye on the future.

Even head coach Peter Laviolette didn’t know where Leino would fit in. “…I wouldn’t take someone out of my lineup”, he said at the time of the trade.

Leino played in 13 of the Flyers’ remaining 26 regular season games, scoring 2 goals and adding 2 assists while putting 23 shots on goal. While these numbers are by no means staggering, to see his potential you only have to look back two years to his ’07-’08 season with Jokerit of the Finnish SM-Liiga, where he scored 28 goals and 49 assists for 77 points and was awarded the League’s Lasse Oksanen Trophy as the “Best Player in the Regular Season”.

With those stats in mind, I’m looking at the ’10-’11 season as Leino’s chance to be a full-time Flyer. He’ll be in the final year of his current contract (an $800,000 cap hit), and the team has four forwards eligible for free agency on July 1st:  Dan Carcillo ($893,750 cap hit this year, restricted/arbitration eligible), Arron Asham ($640,000, unrestricted), Darrol Powe ($520,000, restricted), and Mike Pyorala ($500,000, unrestricted).  Carcillo will probably be re-signed and Powe might be tendered an offer by the Flyers (with the required minimum 10% increase), but Asham and Pyorala will probably walk.

Fans of the Flyers have been calling for forward Scott Hartnell to be given some time in the press box since early in the season (myself included). Having Leino in the lineup gave Laviolette a replacement, since he plays with some grit and a lot of energy, but Hartnell was never pulled from the lineup. Holmgren should be looking to move a high salary player in the off season and Hartnell, with his head seemingly not in the game for most of this year, seems a likely choice (hopefully for a cheaper, solid defenseman and a pick). Another spot opens up if this happens.

Yes, Ville, your time is coming, and I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

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Broad Street Bullies Documentary

Posted in NHL, Philadelphia Flyers with tags , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2010 by tangentman

HBO will premiere their Philadelphia Flyers documentary, “Broad Street Bullies”, on May 4th at 10 PM.

Growing up a Flyers fan, the back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in ’74 and ’75 are some of my earliest memories of the team. Although they were despised by many fans around the NHL for their intimidating style of play, the team was adored by fans in the Philadelphia area. While the Bullies took a lot of heat for kicking ass and taking names, their rough and tumble approach to the game was initially engineered to mimic that of the Big Bad Bruins, the Flyers’ rowdy rivals from Boston.

Led by Head Coach Fred ‘The Fog’ Shero, the Flyers also took on the Soviet Central Red Army team on January 11, 1976, in an exhibition game which saw the Soviets leave the ice during the first period in protest of an Ed Van Impe elbow to the head of Red Army forward Valeri Kharlamov that wasn’t deemed a penalty by referee Lloyd Gilmour.

Love ’em or hate ’em, the Bullies documentary looks entertaining. Check out the trailer or read more on the Flyers’ website.

Peart’s “The Hockey Theme” to Debut Tonight

Posted in NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Rush with tags , , , , , , on January 14, 2010 by tangentman

Rush drummer/percussionist/lyricist Neil Peart’s version of The Hockey Theme will premiere tonight at 7 o’clock on NHL on TSN in Canada during the Toronto Maple Leafs game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Being  Rush fan and a follower of all things NHL, I’m excited that Mr Peart was included in this effort.  Being in the US (and not being a subscriber of the NHL Center Ice cable package), I will not be able to hear the song tonight.  However, The Hockey Theme will be available on iTunes this coming Tuesday, January 19th.

There is a complete story on the TSN website.

A preview of the song is available on YouTube.

The Professor
(Photo courtesy Josh Tidsbury – see the complete set of 13 pics on Josh’s flickr page)

EDIT – Well, it didn’t take long at all for the video to be posted on YouTube.  Good stuff.

The Coach’s Next Step

Posted in NHL, Philadelphia Flyers with tags , , , , , , , on December 20, 2009 by tangentman

Nine games into Peter Laviolette’s stint behind the Flyers’ bench as head coach and the team is a measly 2-6-1, playing the same uninspired brand of hockey that put John Stevens out of a job.

Laviolette has come in and done some things differently than Stevens – players are being held accountable at practice for in-game stupidity, for one.  Is it helping?  Nope.  The same players are making the same mistakes; it’s the only point of consistency this team is showing, and it truly sucks to watch.

There has been talk of a trade to shake things up a bit, but who gets dealt?  There are so many No Trade Clauses and lengthy contracts on this roster – and don’t forget the Salary Cap – that the choices are limited.  Personally, I don’t think a trade would do the trick, but at this point it’s moot due to the NHL’s Holiday Trade Embargo that is currently in place, and doesn’t get lifted until January 9th, I believe.  (EDIT – Players can be traded again starting December 28th.  Do some research, blogger.  *shakes head in shame*)

It’s time for Laviolette to start giving guys a different perspective on game day – a view from on-high.  Yes, the dreaded ‘healthy scratch’.  “You get to watch the game from the press box tonight.”  Not necessarily as punishment, but as a learning experience in some cases.  Scott Hartnell could use a game or two upstairs for both reasons, and he’s just one example.  Braydon Coburn, quite possibly, might benefit from seeing a game from a different angle, too.

Maybe that’s not the answer, but really, what else can be tried?  These guys need to get their heads out of their asses and start playing as a team before it’s too late – and that day approaches faster with each passing piss-poor effort they come out with.

Stevens on his way out?

Posted in NHL with tags , , , on December 4, 2009 by tangentman

The Philadelphia Flyers, on paper, should be considered a Stanley Cup contender this season.  However, roster potential doesn’t always translate to success on the ice.  The team came out of the gate looking like one tough team to play against, yet, after the first few games, they seemed to revert back to the same team we’ve seen the last couple of years – lackadaisical, inconsistent and unfocused.  To be fair, they did have a helluva run at one point, winning 7 of 8 and playing very strongly, but over the last 12 games they have gone 3-8-1 and have been outscored 32-34, the last two games being shutout losses.  They currently sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, 2 places south of a playoff spot.

Who gets the blame?  There has been a lot of discussion around the internet on this subject.  There are those who say that Coach John Stevens must go; that he can’t motivate the team.  Others will argue that the players should be able to motivate themselves for the games, and that Stevens can’t be blamed for that.  The rest blame the coaching staff and the players, and I think that’s the closest to the truth.

Stevens appears to have lost the players.  Some of them have said it’s not his fault; that for some reason they aren’t playing well.  There are reports that there is a divide in the locker room between the young guns and the seasoned vets, which, in reality, is up to the team’s ‘leadership group’ to work out.  Whatever is going through the players’ heads, they can’t seem to get it together in the games.

Stevens will probably pay the price by losing his job, his fault or not.  The next coach will have his hands full, but, if he plays his cards right and makes the players (no matter what nameplate is on the back of their jersey) compete for ice time and his respect, could have this group of guys playing like the team it looks like it could be on that roster sheet – a contender.

EDIT – As of 5:00 this afternoon, John Stevens has been fired.  I hope the players feel like shit.

Will the Canucks do right by Schneider?

Posted in NHL with tags , , on September 20, 2009 by tangentman

So goalie Roberto Luongo got a new 12-year deal from the Vancouver Canucks this off season.  That’s great for Louie, but where does that leave potential stud Cory Schneider, the 26th overall pick in the 2004 NHL draft?  He’s currently 3rd on the Canucks’ depth chart, sitting behind backup goalie Andrew Raycroft.  Will it be another year or so in the AHL and then the next decade working the door on the Vancouver bench while Luongo earns his paycheck getting 65+ starts per season?  Not if the ‘Nucks organization does the right thing.

That means trading Schneider to a team where he can be ‘the man’ in net, and to one that can address Vancouver’s need for prospects on defense.  One such team they could contact is the Philadelphia Flyers, who have an abundance of youth on the blueline in the minors, and haven’t had a franchise goalie in over 20 years (remember Ron Hextall from way back when…?).

The Flyers took a chance this season by signing Ray Emery to a one-year, $1.5 million deal (giving him a shot at redemption after his year of exile in Russia’s KHL) and bringing back Brian Boucher as backup, letting both Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki walk as free agents.  The depth in goal in the Flyers’ system isn’t that great.

Schneider might be just what the doctor ordered in Philly, and a couple of the kids on D going back to Vancouver (Michael Ratchuk, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Oskars Bartulis, Kevin Marshall, Danny Syvret and Denis Bodrov are a few of the names) in a package might get it done.