Blogs > In The Room with Anthony SanFilippo

Daily Times beat writer Anthony J. SanFilippo takes you inside the locker rooms of the Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of the NHL.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Now that the Flyers are finished for the season, the focus of the Philadelphia hockey fan shifts to the summer Christmas bazaar that is the three-or-four weeks from late June to mid-July that encompasses the NHL draft and the start of free agency.

This is when most teams are pieced together for the following season.

So, to provide you with a head start, here is a complete list of potential NHL free agents for 2008, their age, and their salary last season. Some players who didn't play in the NHL in 2007-08 are also included on this list.


Potential 2008 NHL Unrestricted Free Agents



07-08 Salary

Joe Sakic37COL$6,750,000
Sergei Fedorov37CLB$6,080,000
Mats Sundin36TOR$5,500,000
Bobby Holik36ATL$4,250,000
Alexei Zhamnov36BOS$4,100,000
Doug Weight36STL$3,500,000
Martin Straka34NYR$3,300,000
Brendan Morrison31VAN$3,200,000
Craig Conroy35CGY$2,850,000
Daymond Langkow30CGY$2,442,000
Steve Rucchin35ATL$2,400,000
Bryan Smolinski35MTL$2,000,000
Sean Avery27NYR$1,900,000
Vaclav Prospal32 PHI $1,900,000
Jason Williams26CHI$1,600,000
Yanic Perreault36CHI$1,500,000
Chris Gratton31TBL$1,500,000
Mike Peca33CLB$1,300,000
Chris Kelly26OTT$1,262,000
Stephane Yelle33CGY$1,250,000
Mike York29PHX$1,000,000
Marty Reasoner30EDM$950,000
Stu Barnes36DAL$900,000
Niko Kapanen29PHX$900,000
Ryan Johnson31STL$800,000
Josef Vasicek26NYI$750,000
Dominic Moore26 TOR$700,000
Curtis Brown31SJS$700,000
Byron Ritchie30VAN$675,000
Kevyn Adams32CHI$650,000
Randy Robitaille31OTT$625,000
Jaroslav Hlinka30COL$600,000
Trevor Linden37VAN$600,000
Patrick Rissmiller28SJS$595,000
Kris Beech26 PIT$585,000
Mark Hartigan 29 DET $550,000
Jason Krog31ATL$500,000
Glen Metropolit33BOS$500,000
Zenon Konopka26CLB$500,000
Wyatt Smith30COL$500,000
Jim Dowd38PHI$500,000
Jeremy Roenick37SJS$500,000
Andreas Karlsson31TBL$500,000
Craig MacDonald30TBL$500,000
Tim Taylor38TBL$500,000
Mike Glumac 27 STL $495,000
Mark Smith29CGY$488,000
Michael Ryan27BUF$475,000
Krys Barch27DAL$475,000
Brad Winchester26DAL$475,000
John Pohl28TOR$475,000

PlayerAgeTeam07-08 Salary
Wade Redden30OTT$6,500,000
Rob Blake37LAK$6,000,000
Adam Foote35 COL$4,600,000
Mattias Norstrom35DAL$4,250,000
Brad Stuart27 DET$3,500,000
Darius Kasparaitis34NYR$3,116,000
Paul Mara27NYR$3,000,000
Aaron Ward34BOS$2,750,000
Teppo Numminen38BUF$2,600,000
Oleg Tverdovsky31LAK$2,500,000
Marek Malik32NYR$2,500,000
Bret Hedican36CAR$2,432,000
Michal Rozsival28NYR$2,300,000
Dmitri Kalinin26BUF$2,250,000
Keith Carney37MIN$2,100,000
Dick Tarnstrom32 CLB$2,000,000
Jason Smith33PHI$1,976,000
Brian Campbell28 SJS$1,750,000
Mark Eaton30PIT$1,600,000
Bryce Salvador31 NJD$1,500,000
Aaron Miller35VAN$1,500,000
Andrei Zyuzin29CHI$1,475,000
Glen Wesley38CAR$1,400,000
John-Michael Liles26COL$1,400,000
Karel Rachunek27NJD$1,400,000
Richard Matvichuk34NJD$1,368,000
Mike Commodore27 OTT$1,300,000
Jim Vandermeer27 CAL$1,225,000
Nolan Baumgartner31DAL$1,200,000
Jaroslav Modry36 PHI$1,200,000
Petteri Nummelin34MIN$1,200,000
Jan Hejda29CLB$1,000,000
Andreas Lilja31DET$1,000,000
Ron Hainsey26CLB$900,000
Chris Chelios45DET$850,000
Branislav Mezei26FLA$850,000
Steve Montador27FLA$800,000
Steve McCarthy26ATL$725,000
Bryan Berard30NYI$725,000
Kurt Sauer26COL$719,000
Joe DiPenta28ANA$700,000
Magnus Johansson33 FLA$700,000
Patrice Brisebois36MTL$700,000
Alexei Semenov26SJS$650,000
Sandis Ozolinsh34SJS$625,000
Joel Kwiatkowski 30 ATL $600,000
Mark Streit29MTL$600,000
Matt Walker27STL$600,000
Mike Weaver29VAN$600,000
David Hale26CGY$590,000
Nolan Pratt31BUF$550,000
Rory Fitzpatrick32PHI$550,000
Jassen Cullimore34FLA$535,000
Alain Nasreddine31PIT$535,000
Freddy Meyer26NYI$525,000
Rob Davison27SJS$525,000
Bobby Allen28BOS$500,000
Dan Jancevski 26 DAL $500,000
Jeff Jillson26COL$500,000
Wade Brookbank 29 CAR $500,000
Sheldon Brookbank26NJD$500,000
Andrew Hutchinson27NYR$500,000
Jason Strudwick31NYR$500,000
Luke Richardson38OTT$500,000
Micki DuPont27STL$500,000
Garrett Stafford 27 DET $500,000
Andy Wozniewski27TOR$500,000
Kevin Dallman26LAK$490,000
Jeff Finger27COL$475,000
Allan Rourke27EDM$475,000
Sean Hill37MIN$475,000
Mike Mottau29NJD$475,000
Matt Carkner26OTT$475,000
Ryan Caldwell26PHX$475,000
Brad Norton32SJS$475,000
Doug Janik27TBL$475,000
Bruno St. Jacques 26 ANA $475,000

PlayerAgeTeam07-08 Salary
Jose Theodore30COL$6,000,000
Olaf Kolzig37WAS$5,450,000
Cristobal Huet31 WAS $2,750,000
Dominik Hasek42DET$2,050,000
John Grahame31CAR$1,400,000
Johan Hedberg34ATL$1,150,000
Johan Holmqvist29 DAL$1,000,000
Patrick Lalime32CHI$950,000
Jocelyn Thibault32BUF$760,000
Stephen Valiquette29NYR$635,000
David Aebischer29PHX$600,000
Alex Auld26 BOS$600,000
Curtis Sanford27VAN$600,000
Michael Leighton 26 CAR $550,000
Jean-Sebastien Aubin29 ANA$525,000
Mike Morrison 27 NJD $525,000
Fred Brathwaite34ATL$500,000
Frederic Cassivi 32 WAS $500,000
Scott Clemmensen 29 TOR $500,000
Ty Conklin 31 PIT $500,000
Dan Ellis 27 NAS $500,000
Jordan Sigalet26BOS$500,000
Wade Dubielewicz28NYI$500,000

Player Age Team 07-08 Salary
Markus Naslund33VAN$6,000,000
Ladislav Nagy28LAK$3,750,000
Sergei Samsonov28 CAR $3,525,000
Martin Rucinsky36STL$3,000,000
Ruslan Fedotenko28NYI$2,900,000
Brendan Shanahan38NYR$2,500,000
Gary Roberts41PIT$2,500,000
Petr Cajanek31STL$2,000,000
Cory Stillman33 OTT $1,750,000
Andrew Brunette33COL$1,600,000
Matt Cooke28 WAS $1,525,000
Geoff Sanderson35EDM$1,500,000
Scott Thornton36LAK$1,500,000
Ryan Malone27PIT$1,450,000
Kristian Huselius28CGY$1,400,000
Martin Gelinas37NAS$1,250,000
Jarkko Ruutu31PIT$1,150,000
Donald Brashear35WAS$1,100,000
Jason Chimera28CLB$1,000,000
Antti Miettinen26DAL$885,000
Pascal Dupuis28 PIT $880,000
Todd Fedoruk28 MIN $875,000
Jay Pandolfo32NJD$836,000
Jan Hlavac30 NAS $700,000
Niklas Hagman27DAL$675,000
Jody Shelley31 SJS$650,000
Eric Boulton30ATL$525,000
David Koci26CHI$525,000
Brad Isbister30VAN$525,000
Darcy Hordichuk26NAS$517,000
Kip Brennan 26 NYI $500,000
Steve Kelly 30 MIN $500,000
Matt Murley 27 PHO $500,000
Jeff Taffe 26 PIT $500,000
Ryan Bayda26CAR$475,000
Raitis Ivanans28LAK$475,000
Chris Simon35 MIN$475,000
Mathias Tjarnqvist28PHX$475,000
Mathieu Darche30TBL$475,000
Noah Clarke 28 NJD $475,000
Jeff Giuliano 28 LAK $475,000

PlayerAgeTeam07-08 Salary
Marian Hossa28 PIT $7,000,000
Pavol Demitra32MIN$4,500,000
Miroslav Satan32NYI$4,500,000
Michael Ryder27MTL$2,950,000
Brian Rolston34MIN$2,432,000
Martin Lapointe33 OTT$2,400,000
David Vyborny32CLB$2,200,000
Owen Nolan35CGY$1,750,000
Mark Recchi39 ATL$1,750,000
Teemu Selanne 37 ANA $1,500,000
Georges Laraque30PIT$1,300,000
Radim Vrbata26PHX$1,225,000
Andre Roy32TBL$1,000,000
Shean Donovan32OTT$925,000
Brian Willsie29LAK$900,000
Trevor Letowski30CAR$800,000
Mike Johnson32STL$750,000
Arron Asham29NJD$700,000
Matt Bradley29WAS$700,000
Branko Radivojevic26MIN$680,000
Wade Belak30 FLA$625,000
Niko Dimitrakos28OTT$575,000
Dallas Drake38DET$550,000
Darren McCarty 35 DET $535,000
Aaron Downey32DET$525,000
Adam Hall26PIT$525,000
Josh Langfeld 29 NAS $500,000
Junior Lessard 27 TBL $500,000
Jeff Hoggan 29 BOS $495,000
Mark Mowers33ANA$475,000
Darren Haydar27ATL$475,000
Keith Aucoin28CAR$475,000
Eric Godard27CGY$475,000
Scott Parker29COL$475,000
Jesse Boulerice28PHI$475,000
Kyle Wanvig 26 TB $475,000
Craig Weller26PHX$475,000

Sunday, May 18, 2008


In what has become a classic Flyers play, Braydon Coburn will not play in Game 5 after all.

Despite his assertion that he was ready to go. Despite the thought by the coach and general manager that there was a chance, there was really never a shot of Coburn playing today.

Although they won't admit it, Coburn does have a concussion.

Typical Flyers fare.

Frankly, it's frustrating... both from a writer's perspective and that of the fans.

When blatantly lying to the media and their fans the Flyers should take this thought into consideration:

Philadelphia fans are disenchanted with Eagles coach Andy Reid because he chooses not to share information with them - leaving them as "need-to-know status."

It's frustrating - just divulge the information. If the kid has a concussion - call it a concussion. Keeping these head injuries secret is a bad practice.

One of these days, somebody is going to play with a concussion, with full disclosure to the team, and get hurt again - even worse.

Every sport has a dark cloud of some sort... hockey happens to have a concussion problem.

And the Flyers are one of the most egregious offenders.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Members of my family went to a fundraising event at Anthony's Restaurant in Drexel Hill tonight. It was a "Night at the Races" concept where betting was made on old video horse races and the proceeds went to a church carnival.

While there, they also were talking about tomorrow's Preakness Stakes down at Pimlico. Everyone likes Big Brown. He's the favorite by a mile, so the conversation on the degenerate gambler's mind circled around who will come second, third, and fourth to put in the exotic bets.

(I'm going 7-8-11-1 for those that care).

But that's what people are doing, searching for the best "long shot" to sneak into a money spot so they can take home some cash on the weekend.

Meanwhile the Flyers are counting on a couple of one-time long shots to make it back in the lineup to keep their season alive - Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn.

Right now, Timonen, who was expected to miss the balance of the playoffs with a blood clot in his left foot, appears more likely to return than Coburn, but Coburn will practice Saturday and can't be ruled out just yet.

Getting both players back is exciting enough for Flyers fans, who are suddenly dreaming about the longest of all shots - erasing a 3-0 deficit and winning this Eastern Conference Final against Pittsburgh.

If that happens, it will go down as one of the greatest Flyers accomplishments in their storied history, but it would also set up the possibility of another dark horse emerging to shock the hockey world.

Call it a hunch, call it intuition. Call it crazy if you must, but I want to be the first person to say publicly - If the Flyers do come back and make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, Simon Gagne will make an attempt to play.

That's right, Gagne - he of the three concussions in three months this season.

It's curious to see him around the locker room more and more than at any other point in the season while he was sidelined with his head and neck issues.

He has been working out lightly on the down low, and just might intensify those efforts if the Flyers could reach the Final.

Flyers G.M. Paul Holmgren has continually shot down any notion that Gagne could play again this season, but no one, I repeat no one, has said he's absolutely, 100 percent done.

Which leaves you to wonder....

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Did you ever wonder why hockey teams have a practice the morning of a game and then go out and warm up prior to the game too?

Wouldn't it make more sense to just show up a little earlier at the arena and get your sweat on instead of driving to the practice facility in Voorhees, getting all suited up, going through a workout, undressing, showering, going home, napping, and then going to the arena to do it all over again?

It seems silly doesn't it?

Well, did you know it was invented here in Philadelphia?

True story.

Spoke at length to a former Flyers player who told tale of the origins of the morning skate.

Here's what he said.

"(Former Flyers coach) Fred Shero used to make his team show up for a 'practice' on game day mornings so they could shake off the cob webs from the night before."

It kind of made sense in those days, because players weren't as well-conditioned as the athletes are today. There was no full season training regiment that existed back then, so to get the muscles loose and limber before a game was kind of ingenious.

"Well, you could say that," the former player told me. "But, Freddie did it because he wanted to curb the late-night boozing the players were partaking in the night before.

"He figured, if he made them show up early, they wouldn't be so willing to stay out until the wee hours throwing beer after beer down their gullet."

Did it work?

"Well, for most guys it did, but there was more than one occasion of a guy showing up hung over and he had to leave the ice to puke in the bathroom."


So, why does it continue today?

"Tradition," the player said. "That's all I can assume. Because to be honest, these guys are in such great shape these days, that morning skate does very little to help them in the game later that night."

Monday, May 12, 2008


Babe Ruth. The billy goat. Steve Bartman. Sleeping Beauty.

None of these curses have have anything on the Flyers.

The origins of this hex seems to stem from the year 1976, but what exactly happened in that fateful year still remains a mystery.

See, it was in that Spring the Flyers tried to win the Stanley Cup for the third straight season. And it was in that season they lost their hall-of-fame goalie Bernie Parent to injury.

The Flyers, behind backup Wayne Stephenson, did return to the finals, but couldn't stopp the high-flying Montreal Canadiens.

It was the first off 32 straight Springs without a title. Without an opportunity to sip champagne from the coveted Cup.

And now, the Flyers are just two losses away from making it 33 years-and-counting.

And while not every season has been sabotaged by injury - or this wicked curse - there have been their fair share.

Of course, 1980 saw the Leon Stickle non-offside-call that allowed the Flyers to lose in the finals.

Then there was 1986, when the team was struck by the Pelle Lindbergh tragedy a month into the season following a dramatic run to the finals.

A year later they lost their leading scorer Tim Kerr, and still went seven games with the vaunted Edmonton Oilers.

In 1989, it was Montreal again in, this time in the conference finals. And Brian Propp, their best sniper, was rubbed out of the playoffs thanks to a dirty blow Chris Chelios to Propp's head.

The '90s saw less strife, although an appearance in the finals in 1997 was wiped out quickly thanks to a "choking situation." I guess that's a mental injury.

In 2000, the Flyers were one win from the Finals when they brought back Eric Lindros from a season-long concussion injury. He messed with the chemistry, the team gagged, and by the time Game 7 rolled around, Lindros was buried by Scott Stevens with an open-ice hit that left him crumpled on the ice.

Lindros was never the same after that, and the Flyers didn't move on.

In both 2003 and 2004 it was the significant loss of defenseman Eric Desjardins that prevented the title shot.

And now it's Kimmo Timonen and possibly Braydon Coburn.

The curse is there. It exists, and almost tangibly. The Flyers are vexed, and now without their two top-flight blue liners it's going to be a near-impossible task to win four-of-five against Pittsburgh.

Sigh. The curse goes on....

Now if somebody can just explain what happened between May, 1975 and May, 1976?

Friday, May 9, 2008


As a treat for you the constant reader and devoted hockey fan, I will provide for you here in the blog, the daily quotes from all the interviews held during the Conference Finals (and possibly the Finals!)

This way you can read all that was said, and not just snippets in the stories provided by your favorite hockey scribes, of which I better be one!


But, keep in mind, these are only the quotes that were delivered at the podium in the press conference room, and that it is quite conceivable that writers were able to obtain quotes from these same players and coaches in another way.

But, before I get to the quotes, here are the Flyers lines for Game 1 against Pittsburgh:

Prospal Briere Hartnell
Lupul Richards Umberger
Upshall Carter Knuble
Thoresen Dowd Kapanen

Coburn Hatcher
Jones Smith
Kukkonen Modry

Randy Jones will replace Kimmo Timonen on the top power play unit. Jaroslav Modry will fill in for Jones on the second unit.

OK... Now the quotes:

An Interview With:


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Sidney.

Q. Sidney, with Kimmo Timonen out of the series, apparently, how does this change the approach of maybe your fore‑check in terms of the Penguins going at them? He's likely their best puck moving Defenseman if not their only solid one. Does it change in terms of how you might approach that fore‑check?

SIDNEY CROSBY: Oh, no. I mean, we're not going to change anything. I think we come with a lot of pressure typically, and that's not going to change because he's out. So I think we kind of go about the same things. Obviously, that's a loss for them. But at the same time, we're a prime example when guys go down other guys can step up. So I don't think we're looking too much into it.

Q. What was it like to open up the first two series at home, and how do you expect tonight's atmosphere to compare?

SIDNEY CROSBY: It's always great. You want home ice advantage. And you earn that right during the season. But we really want to take advantage of that and make sure we use that energy to our advantage. You know, for us, we want to start the same way we have for the past two and make sure that we're solid, and starting off the series right.

Q. You said you don't expect your fore‑check to change with Timonen out. But how would you expect their game to change with him out?

SIDNEY CROSBY: I don't think they're going to change too much. I mean, as far as systems go, everything's going to be the same. But they'll probably change the power plays, he's a big part of their power play quarterbacking it. Usually him and Richards were together back there. So I'm sure there will be some adjustments there. And for us that will mean a little more adjusting to. Because we don't know who is going to fill in that spot so we'll have to adjust as well.

You know, both teams are kind of in the same situation.

Q. The further you go in the playoffs, how exciting is this for you? Because for a lot of guys this is just the first time to the next step? Or do you just try to keep that under the level?

SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, you just take it one at a time. You can't get caught looking ahead. I mean, in a series, in a game, period. Your focus has to be on what you have to do and your task, and if you worry about that, you hope you get the results, but you can't look far ahead.

Q. You've been through the root obviously with the memorial company cup, which is different from a standpoint, but still are there some similarities that you were able to draw from that a little bit?

SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I think anything in your past experiences like you said, Memorial Cup and memorial juniors and where there is a little more pressure. You just try to think back to what worked, what didn't. I think if you look back to all those situations, all the guys will tell you you've played in big scenarios or big situations. You just have to focus on what you have to do and nothing outside of that. You know, I think going through that helps you do that in these situations.

Q. You said you're not going to really change your game plan with Timonen out and they're probably not going to change a whole lot And. But when you get to this point in the playoffs you're looking for any kind of advantage, things are so tight. Is this the kind of break you guys look for at this point? Are

you guys paying any attention to this? You've got to be at least a little happy that your top Defenseman goes down.

SIDNEY CROSBY: Well, yeah. It's one of those things that you can't get caught thinking about it because you don't want to assume anything. An easy assumption would be maybe their power play is not going to be where it needs to be because he's out. But that could make us pay. That means that we're overconfident, and I don't think we can afford to do that.

To be honest, we've worked too hard to let other situations affect the way we play. We'd be hurting ourselves by doing that.

As I said, we're a prime example. When guys were out, we had a lot of guys step up and we surprised a lot of people. I'm sure a lot of guys in that room are trying to do the same thing. So it wouldn't be smart on our part to take that lightly.

Q. What have you seen in the development of Ryan Malone's game that has allowed him to have such a solid, all around season?

SIDNEY CROSBY: He's definitely been consistent. He's got the opportunity to play in the first power play. He's a big guy. He's really made a name for himself as being the guy in front of the net. He's got a presence there. He's got a great scoring touch. As well he's been pretty responsible with their penalty kills, so he's become a pretty complete player and a big part of our team.

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach, please.

Q. When the team loses a key player like the Flyers losing Timonen, do you have to caution your players not to relax? Or do you even address the issue with your guys?

COACH THERRIEN: Well, obviously, this is a huge loss for them. With all the respect for the other defensemen, he is their best defenseman and their shut down guy, and was playing really well. But in the meantime giving an opportunity for another player to step in. But in the meantime for us our philosophy hasn't changed. It's not about them, it's about us. How are we going to play, how are we going to handle ourselves on the ice. And we know how they play, and we're well prepared. We're excited about tonight. But in the meantime, you know, we're not focusing on who is going to be there and who is not going to be there.

Q. What has allowed Ryan Malone to enjoy the season that he's had? It seems that he's always had a lot of the tools, it just seems that the consistency of his game has come together this year. What have you seen?

COACH THERRIEN: He learned a lot in the last few years. I really believe that he's got the tools to become the player that he is right now. I think number one thing is maturity. He deserves a lot of credit. He's an important player on our team. There's no doubt that he's playing on the top two lines, and he's doing a fantastic job with Malkin. He's playing on the power play. He's playing on the penalty killing. So, when you get responsibility to a player like this, and the success that that team is having, there is no doubt his role is more than important, and he accepts the challenge, and he's ready for that type of challenge. He did a big strides the last two years.

Q. Last round you guys were coming off a long layoff, you were going into a Game 1 against an opponent you had seen a lot of during the regular season. What lessons can you learn from that series opener that can be applied to this series opener?

COACH THERRIEN: First of all, I think energy‑wise, I think the players are anxious to play on both sides. If we do remember our first game it was kind of playing against the Rangers we almost felt the same thing. Funny bounces on both sides. It was not like a textbook playoff type of game. But we tried to stay focused this week as most as we can. One thing, players are really excited. I believe their players are more focused.

Second round is always a tough round to play emotionally. I mean, because when you start the playoffs you're talking about the playoffs for about two, three months with your team that you got to battle to make the playoffs. You've got to be there. When we start the playoffs there are 16 teams that are so excited to be part of it. So the emotions always go down after the first round.

We find a way to win that first game. It gave us a lot of momentum to that series, but now I think, emotionally it will be a lot different because we're getting closer to where we wanted to go. And that being said, this is going to be the same thing for both teams.

So this is what I'm expecting it's going to be a real playoff type of game tonight, even if it's only the first game of the series.

Q. Along those lines, you're a pretty good reader of your hockey club, particularly in the morning, though you say it doesn't affect the game. What vibes are you getting from your hockey club right now as you get ready for this series?

COACH THERRIEN: Their confidence,

first of all. I think at this time of the year, confidence is a big part of it. They're confident because of the work ethic. They're confident about the way that they're playing into our system. They're confident because they know they're disciplined. That's why we got a good vibe with our team right now. And the team spirit when you're winning, obviously, it always helps. But even in tough times this year, I think the team spirit always was there with that young group. Right now I can see a bunch of young guys really excited to attack the third round of the playoffs tonight.

Q. You coached against John Stevens in the AHL playoffs I guess a couple times, any particular moments that stand out in some of those series?

COACH THERRIEN: Thanks for reminding me. We've been talking for that the last two days (laughing).

Q. I wasn't here, sorry.

COACH THERRIEN: He's doing what he has to do to be successful. And I have to do what I have to do to be successful for our own team. Like I said yesterday, he's a good coach. He's got success in the American Hockey League. What he did this year coming up from a tough year last year with the Flyers, he deserves a lot of respect.

We know how they play, and they know how we play, this is not brand‑new for us or even for the players. They've been playing against each other for a long period of time. We bring different actors every year, but the focus is not on the coaches. The focus is on the actor. The actor will have to act. And they've got some good actors, some good players. We've got some good actors as well. That's why it's going to be a really interesting series.

Q. To your credit and your players' credit, you haven't had a lot of adversity in the playoffs in terms of deficits. You've only lost one game I'm sure you'd like to keep it that way. Do you have to go into this series and perhaps the next one with the expectations that it's going to get tougher? Or do you feel it's in your control to keep it the way it's been?

COACH THERRIEN: I don't think people realize how tough it is to win in the playoffs every single game. It's really demanding. You go through adversity during games. You could lose momentum, how are you going to react? That can be an adversity. Like last game, things were going really well for us. Hey, we lost our focus for about five minutes, bang, attacked the game. If you're looking for adversity, that was a little bit of adversity.

It's demanding to win in the playoffs. But, you know what, that team went through a lot of adversity through the course of the season, and I've said that before, but I still like to repeat myself on that. When we lost Crosby and we lost Fleury, and we lost a lot of guys from our lineup, that was adversity to try to make the playoffs because our main goal was to try to make the playoffs like all the teams.

Those guys did a fantastic job to stay focused, and to bring their game to another level with that challenge. Playoff for me is not always about adversity. For me it's more like a challenge. Every game is a challenge, every series is a challenge. And we see it more as a challenge than an adversity.

Q. I talked to a couple of the players about what a typical day is like on a game day. They go home, take a nap, and play soccer whatever. What is a coach's typical day? What do you do on a game day?

COACH THERRIEN: Watch videos, we prepare, we watch videos. We've got meetings to prepare. Everyone's got their own routine. But one thing we've got to make sure is that we prepare our team as much as we can. In the meantime, you don't want to overprepare the team.

We had a meeting yesterday with the players. It's not because in the playoffs we want to change things. We don't want to change things at all because the players are comfortable with the preparation we did during the regular season. So it's not because we're in the playoffs we're going to start changing things. So we're doing the same things.

Q. If you can go back and draw on the experience you guys had when Sidney first went down, as a coach, what is the specific challenge that first game when the team loses a player and is trying to have guys step in new roles? From the coaching standpoint, what is the biggest challenge you have to get your team just in a state of normalcy?

COACH THERRIEN: They've got to believe. They've got to believe they could do the job even if you end up missing a lot of players.

When a group believes what they could achieve, well, that's a big step. That was a back‑to‑back game we played here. We lost against Tampa Bay. We went to play in Montreal, that was a huge challenge. We got a shut out from Marc‑Andre, went 2‑0 up there. And I think that was a huge win for us. Especially mentally. And they knew that they got to play a team game if they want to have any type of success. And that will give us a lot of confidence to finish the year.

Q. How is max progressing?

COACH THERRIEN: He's still day to day. But he's not going to play tonight.

Q. Any other changes in the lineup?


An Interview With:


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Daniel.

Q. I saw a TV clip of you earlier this week basically saying you've had your fill of going home after conference finals. Can you just comment on that three years in a row?

DANIEL BRIERE: Well, yeah, I mean, it's obviously tough to get to this point. But, yeah, it's been two years in a row now going home empty‑handed after this series. So I'm hoping with the experience we have in this dressing room and we'll be a little bit more better prepared and ready to attack it and move on next time around.

Q. What is the state of this team given the injury to Kimmo? And how big a role is team‑wide confidence going to be in overcoming that?

DANIEL BRIERE: You know what, we feel like we've battled through adversity all year long. And yes, Kimmo is a big part of our team. But at the same time we've been faced with those situations before. And it just made us better, and we found ways to pull through, to come together. We believe we can do the same thing. That's the way we have to approach it.

I'm not going to lie, Kimmo is a big part of our team. But we've lost some key players before and were able to fight through it. That has to be the same way. Of even if we feel sorry about ourselves, it's not going to take us anywhere anyways, so we might as well try to, you know, get our energy up and find a way to battle through it. That's the way we see it.

Q. You played with Marty for years in Buffalo where he was the back‑up and never seemed to complain. Is it finally nice to see him really take the starting job and show that he can be a number one in this league?

DANIEL BRIERE: Definitely. You know, we've heard a lot of stories about him not being ready to play in the playoffs this year or having some doubts because he had never played before. But you know what, he's been around a lot. He was there when Buffalo went to the Stanley Cup final in '99 against Dallas. He was a third goalie. But he's still around the guys. We learned a lot. Couple years ago we went to the conference final and he was around also. And through all of that, he's always been for me in my mind I see him as the ultimate team player. Everything that he had to fight through and he was always, you know, the one cheering us the most. It was just amazing. For people who Marty, we all know how nice a person he is. So it's nice to see a nice thing happen to good people.

Q. Can you be just a little more specific on what the points of adversity you thought were the most trying this season? And just exactly how the team rallied together and got past those points?

DANIEL BRIERE: You just look, I mean, we can start with the ten‑game losing streak everybody thought we were done at that point. That we weren't going to get back up. At that time, too, we were playing without Mike Richards, and we found a way to get back in.

Going down the stretch, at one point we were ninth or tenth place in our conference. I believe we had nine games left, and they were all against our own division opponents, the Rangers, the Devils, the Penguins and the Islanders. Besides the Islanders, the other three teams were near the top of the conference, so not too many people gave us a chance.

You look in the playoffs the way we found ways to blow two on‑goal leads a couple times or it happened in each series. Once again, people started doubting us and we found ways to come back. So that's what we mean when we're talking about adversity and finding ways to get back up together when people thought we were going to collapse.

Q. The power play has been so successful all year in the playoffs as well. Without Timonen in there, do you think that Jones can provide similar services there on the back line?

DANIEL BRIERE: Well, we hope so. You know, when situations like this arise, you need somebody or at least a chance for somebody to step up, play a bigger role, have more responsibilities. Sometimes it's players that you don't really expect that are going to step up and make it happen. So I don't really know who is going to step up this time around. Randy will have a chance. But it's not just on his shoulders, I mean, it's everybody that has to do a little bit more to replace Kimmo.

Q. You lead your team in scoring, and I know that you've always been your harshest critic. Can you talk about your year and at times during the regular season where maybe were you feeling a lot of pressure with the new contract joining a new team and somehow things just kind of got better for you as you got to the playoffs?

DANIEL BRIERE: Yeah, it's been ‑‑ it was a trying year. Coming to a new organization, new players to play with. I mean, the last four years in Buffalo I only had three different wingers the whole time I was there. So that was an adjustment. And right off the bat it clicked really well with Seimone Gagne. And I knew he went down with an injury. After that it was kind of a shuffle. I couldn't really find chemistry. Sometimes it takes time. John Stevens is somebody who likes to switch his lines around a lot. So it was tough to, at the same time as you're trying to fit into a new system.

So it was a little or really tough there for a couple of months in the middle of the season. But then I started playing better. And Vinny Prospal arrived and chemistry started setting in right away with Vinny, and Scott Hartnell, and going down the stretch I thought our line played really well helping our team move into the playoffs. And our play kept going, you know, into the playoffs. So it's been a lot of fun lately. And you know what, it makes you appreciate it even more when you have to go through tough times.

Q. You talked about the chemistry with Vinny Prospal. Obviously you guys had a great series against Washington. Vinny wasn't high statistical‑wise against Montreal. Is there something you need to do to get the offense going on the first line between that chemistry between you and Vinny?

DANIEL BRIERE: Well, we had our chances. It just seemed against Washington we finished every chances we had. And Montreal, we got stopped. R.J. Umberger actually stepped up and was bringing us all chances.

As you move into the playoffs sometimes you need different guys to step up. I didn't expect our line to keep the same pace that we had against Montreal throughout the whole playoffs. And that's the beauty of our team. You know, we have many different players that can step up and help us out in that role. But, yeah, we'd like to do a little bit more against Pittsburgh.

An Interview With:


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Derian.

Q. There's a theory in Pittsburgh, that Crosby plays better the more agitated he becomes. You've seen enough of him. Is that your take on him?

DERIAN HATCHER: Yeah, maybe. That's tough. I think I've been asked a lot about him the last couple of days here. He's an emotional guy. Sometimes when that emotion level rises you tend to play better. If you let it rise too high, you know, that's not a good thing.

But he's emotional. Can you see he's emotional. And when that gets up there, he probably does play a little bit better.

Q. Where's that fine line between losing a guy like Kimmo and then rallying around, you know, everyone saying the series is over before it starts? Where's that fine line?

DERIAN HATCHER: Well, obviously, Kimmo's a huge part of the team and he has been all year. Power play, the penalty kill, and five on five. So, it's going to be tough to replace. But we're in the series. We're starting the series tonight. We have the attitude we can win this series. We had it with him and we have it now.

Hockey is one of the true team sports. It's not an individual sport. He will be missed, but, you know, we feel, you know, we can get on without him until we have to.

Q. You've been involved in a lot of deep playoff runs. Obviously, the expectations of this team, many people didn't think the Flyers would be here at this time. Can you explain the difference between this team and this run as opposed to maybe some of the runs in Dallas where you went all the way?

DERIAN HATCHER: Well, I think in Dallas it was a lot different. I think we went into the seasons basically saying we've got to get to the Stanley Cup. I think here after coming off last year, I think the expectations were to get into the playoffs. But I think certain times of the year we were playing and coming together. I know Paul Holmgren, especially, we started thinking maybe we're a little bit better than that. And then we lose ten in a row (laughing). So it's been an up‑and‑down year, but through the course of the year every player it went through their mind, you know, we have a pretty good team here.

Q. There's a lot of talk around about Crosby and Malkin, and who might be more dangerous and how it's different to play against them. What is your opinion on those two if you could compare and contrast a little bit as you prepare for them?

DERIAN HATCHER: Well, they're both great players, obviously. I think Sid's probably a little more of a play maker, and Crosby or Malkin's more of a goal scorer. They're both fast, they're both skilled. They're both great with the puck. They're great players.

I think you have Malkin, a little bit about bigger, a little bit stronger. A guy like Crosby maybe a little more slicker, I'll call him. He's a little bit smaller and maybe a little bit quicker. They're both great players, and to compare them or contrast them it's tough to do. I think the only difference is one might be more of a play maker, and the other one might have a little bit more of a scoring touch.

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Marty.

Q. You've spent so many years in Buffalo as a back‑up to Ryan Miller. And seemed to really enjoy the role, keeping guys loose and stuff like that. Is there something that you almost miss about being the back‑up goaltender? Maybe not being as selfish as you have to be as a starter?

MARTY BIRON: There's little things here and there that are fun being in that role. And I enjoyed it in Buffalo. I learned a lot from it. But there's nothing like playing. There's nothing like being on the ice. Getting ready for the games. You know, I think it's difficult. It's totally different, but I was a lot more nervous sitting on the bench watching the games than I am during the games because you can actually do something about it and be prepared and focused on it.

But I've enjoyed every role I've played, and I've played a third string goalie for Team Canada, the world championship one year. I had a great time doing it. Every time I've got a role to do, I set out to do the best I can. Right now it's a premium role, and I've got to do the job there, too.

Q. It feels as if we're waiting forever for the series to start. Is it any more difficult as a goaltender because of the time between these two series? Was today any different than yesterday for you?

MARTY BIRON: No, I don't think it was any different than the days that we had between games. To finish the season in the first two rounds went so fast. I mean, we only had one day extra in between games in the Montreal series between games 4 and 5. Other than that, we played every other day and sometimes back‑to‑back in the first three weeks of the playoffs. This felt really good to be able to have some time to refocus and rest up a little bit.

The last couple of days when you come off a day off sometimes you feel a little weird on the ice and you've got to get readjusted. But I think we did a good job of taking a couple of days off earlier in the week and getting a couple of good practices the last few days. And this morning it felt like it was back to game day. Back to where we were. Everybody remembering what we're doing out there and the up tempo and all of that, which was good.

Q. Not a lot of success early in your career against the Penguins – a whole lot of success recently. What's been the biggest difference?

MARTY BIRON: My game's against Pittsburgh started from my first game in the NHL where I got lit up four times in the first period here against Mario and all these guys. You know, you're 18 years old. I think that kind of continued and maybe it was in the back of my head a little bit because I was still pretty young the first few years that I played in Buffalo. You know, the one time Mario came back, it was a big impressive thing, too.

But I don't know. I felt in the comfort zone the last few years against Pittsburgh. And playing in this building, which is a very tough building to play in. For a lot of people who don't realize it, the crowd is on top of you. The angles are different, the boards bounce a little different. So you've got to get adjusted.

I think the experience kind of gets you to understand more what you've got to do against a team like Pittsburgh in their building especially. So the last few years has maybe been a benefit of that.

Q. Marty, besides you losing Kimmo is probably the biggest loss this team could suffer. How deflating is that for a team? And specifically you knowing he's not going to be out there in front of you?

MARTY BIRON: Well, it's kind of weird, because you have five days off between series, and you're thinking everybody's going to get healthier, and we'll be able to get some bodies back or everybody 100%. Then you suffer a big loss like Kimmo's. But again, these are things that you have to be able to adjust to. I mean, two years ago in Buffalo, we lost four of our Top 5 defensemen in the first two rounds. We end up playing with three guys that hadn't played a game in the NHL that year for Game 7 against Carolina. The guys did an incredible job. They really came through. I think the whole team ended up playing better because they were asked to do so. So this is the same thing here. I think our whole group of six defensemen that are going to play have to play better because we're losing a guy like Kimmo that's been a pillar for us on "D". Our forwards are going to do a much better job to help out our defensemen. And when you're challenging guys like this at this time of the year on this stage, brings out the best in everybody, and that's what we want to see.

Q. As a first time playoff starting goaltender, is this still kind of new to you. Is there anything you can draw from in junior hockey days or in the American League?

MARTY BIRON: A little bit. I mean, juniors is a different story. But you end up playing in the American League and in the cup playoffs, and the one year we went to the finals against Providence. There were a lot of ups and downs I remember. I remember it like it was yesterday, and that was, you know, almost ten years ago.

There's a lot of ups and downs, and you don't want to be getting on that roller coaster. After a win, you feel really high, and after a loss, you feel really low. You've got to be consistent through your emotion, your intensity. And controlling that is a big factor in the playoffs. We've seen it. The first series we lost Game 1. A heartbreaking loss against Washington. We were about to come back. Montreal was the same way. Heartbreaking loss in Game 1, we were about to come back. So I think we've done a good job managing our emotions and that's the big thing I've learned from the past playoff experience.

Q. Can you talk about your role about a year ago at this time and starting to talk to Danny because you guys were best friends into maybe making Philadelphia a consideration when you hit free agent and how much maybe you were texting him and calling him and begging him?

MARTY BIRON: I didn't really talk to Danny. Especially a year ago, they were still playing. I went to see a few of their games. We went to dinner, we went to lunch. Jay McKee was back in town from his season in St. Louis, so we got a bunch of guys together that were really good friends at the time. But we went to dinner and lunch with Ryan Miller, and Chris Drury, and Danny, and Brian Campbell, and a bunch of guys that were really tight.

So we didn't really say too much at that time. And then summer started, and it's the month of June, and we started working out together in Buffalo before he left to go to Ottawa and to get ready for the July 1st. Then we talked a little bit about the situation.

But I think that he was asking questions about Philadelphia and the organization. Luckily I had been there for a couple of months. I knew what the direction of the team was and where they wanted to go. The good things about Philadelphia and the surroundings. Which was good. But I know that he asked questions to a lot of other guys around the league for different cities. You know, he wanted to do his homework before.

It's really tough. You get to July 1st, and you have an hour or two to make a decision for your next eight years of your life. You want to be prepared for that. And you can do it by asking questions to other guys.

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Stevens.

Q. I think we all know the news when it broke last night. But I'm curious about when you heard it? I think you were trying to figure out how to split him in the two top lines?

COACH STEVENS: Yeah, he got injured in that process there. We knew he was going to get looked at yesterday morning, and the news wasn't good. We got a second opinion just to exhaust every option. The real concern is for his health. We are talking about a pretty serious thing here.

Talked to Kimmo last night, finally got ahold of him. And my first thought is I felt bad for him. He was devastated. I talked to his wife last night and you could hear it that they're all disappointed, because he's been a big reason why we've gotten this far. And it's more about him not being with us, first and foremost, outside of him being a player.

He's one of us. He's been such a big part of our team. Hopefully, we can keep him around as much as possible until he gets healthy. He's just a terrific guy and a big reason for our team's turn around this year. But outside of that, he obviously plays into your game plan a little bit. He's an all situations player. He's been a leader on our team, and we're going to have to do it by committee.

Modry is going to come in and play. We're going to change our appearance here a little bit. And ask more of Mo, and ask more of guys that are in our lineup already.

Q. Two separate questions, first, what was the attitude of the team today in practice? And secondly, can you address what your thoughts are of randy taking Kimmo's spot on the power play?

COACH STEVENS: Well, first of all, I think everybody on the plane knew something was up, they just didn't know. It wasn't confirmed. So I felt it was important once we got the news when we got into town yesterday. I went over to the meal, met with the team and let them know exactly what was going on. Most of them knew already. But I think it was important to address it yesterday.

Just one of those situations where we've dealt with all year that we just have this ability to pick each other up when something happens. I'm fully confident that's what's going to happen here again.

Now, obviously, the power play, Kimmo has been a big part of our power play up top. We have to put somebody else there. We're going to put Jonesy there, Jonesy has good vision with the puck. He sees the ice really well. He can distribute the puck, get it to the net when the lanes are there. Hopefully he can be a nice fit there. If not, Coburn can go there.

And Jonesy has been a second‑year power play guy all year. But I think Jonesy has the skill set and the vision with the puck that hopefully he can step in there and do some of the things up top that Kimmo was able to do.

Q. As a coach, how do you have an influence on keeping players from trying to do too much when they're clearly going to pick up their games with a loss like this?

COACH STEVENS: Yeah, well, we have a saying sometimes less is more. I think our defense has done a great job of playing within themselves. Just like you saw Carter kind of emerge here. You saw Malkin emerge here when Crosby went out. Carter did the same thing for us when Richie (Mike Richards) went out. Talked to some guys today, Jonesy (Randy Jones), Hatch ( Derian Hatcher), Mo (Jaroslav Modry), Smitty (Jason Smith). They're all going to play more.

I think they're ready to do that. They're excited for the opportunity. They want to do what they can to help here.

But I think coming in here, you've seen the weather outside today. It's humid, it's raining. The ice is probably not going to be in optimum condition. I think we need to let the puck do some of the of work for us here.

Q. Danny Briere is having a big playoff for you. Can you talk about his evolution this year as a first time flyer? It seems at times during the regular season he was pressing, and he had some tough times there. But what happened that you think brought him out of that?

COACH STEVENS: Well, I honestly believe there was a process that he had to go through to become a really valuable player for us. I think he's had an impact on our team from day one. He's had a huge impact on the power play. I think the area of his game that wasn't up to what he was used to was the five‑on‑five play. Part of that was the reason, he'll probably blame me a little bit. I had the merry go round with the Wingers there, trying to find the right fit. Gags (Simon Gagne) was in and out early, missed most of the year. He was obviously targeted for the left side there.

But Danny really, I don't know what the number of games, but probably the last 20 games of the year pretty much with the arrival of Vinny Prospal seemed to grow with confidence. Fine play on both sides of the puck got a lot better and carrying into the playoffs.

I think when I watch tape on Danny, he was so quick. He was willing to get to the net down low. He's an attacking player on the rush. It almost seemed like he was frustrated with five‑on‑five play. He wasn't moving his feet. He was maybe standing around a little too much. But he continued, got better with that, and now even into the playoffs when they're going on the road and they're matching up the likes of Komisarek and Markov with him, he's an effective player. He plays through the checking around the playoffs, so. He's terrific. He looks like his old self. I think you're going to see great play from him for the rest of the time he's playing for the Flyers.

Q. Obviously you're well aware of what Pittsburgh has to offer. You've won 5 of 8 in the regular season. But learning from the Montreal series, regular season statistics don't mean anything. What have you learned about the Penguins watching tape on their first round against Ottawa, and their quick series against the Rangers that maybe you did not see during the regular season?

COACH STEVENS: Just more of the same, to be honest with you. I think Pittsburgh probably didn't get off to the start the first half of the year that they wanted. But after the year they had last year, they exceeded expectations. And from the middle point to the end of the year, they're probably one of the better teams in the league. They've obviously made decisions down the stretch with Hossa, and Gill and Dupuis, and their young guys have emerged as bona fide stars.

What I'm seeing now is a team that's playing the best hockey of the year. They have two scoring lines, they have a third line they can check with Staal. And they've got some good role players on their fourth line.

But to me they're executing their game plan close to perfection in the third round. And they have very little resistance and they're firing on all cylinders. That's with we saw down the stretch. Power play is dangerous. The one thing that maybe changed the most is their penalty killing. The numbers on the penalty kill was terrific.

We scored a lot of power‑play goals during the year. They've been very stingy on the penalty kill in the playoffs. And teams have had a tough time scoring. So not only are they potent offensively, they're very good defensively down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Q. You mentioned the humidity outside and how it's affecting the ice in the building which has become a recurring theme for the playoffs. Does that help or hurt you more than it helps or hurts the Penguins?

COACH STEVENS: You know, I'm not sure to be honest with you. They obviously have a high skill level. We feel like we do as well. We'll find out when we play the game and the team that's can make the good decisions with the puck is what we're going to see. I don't know. We went out and skated this morning. The ice seemed good.

I know when you get people in here it might be a little bit different. It's just one of those things we'll have to manage. I don't think it helps or hurts either teams. There are skilled players on both teams. We're obviously a good attacking team throughout the year and through the playoffs. If the ice is bad and the puck is bouncing, it could have an effect on both teams.

Q. Two of the 14 games you lost in the playoffs were Game ones. What did you learn from the Game ones last series that you can bring into tonight and maybe change up a couple of things if you can?

COACH STEVENS: First of all we're going to try to score more than the other team here (smiling). If you look back, I think we played really well in both those games. The Washington game, the first 40 minutes we played really well. Sat back on our heels and let them come at us. It ended up costing us the hockey game.

In Montreal, I thought we played a solid game. We just had some breaks go against us there that they took advantage of. And you'll have to give Montreal credit for doing that. But I really thought we played well in both of those games. It's just a matter of paying attention to details and closing it out. If we get an opportunity to get the lead.

I think we've come a long way in that regard. We've played with more confidence in tight games. First games are always tough. They're tough for both teams. And I thought in both series, the level of play got better as the series moved along.

First game's always tough. I know we lost the first two, but it's just one of those games where you take from it the positives there, and you get ready for this one. So this is our third chance at it. So we'd like to change it and come out with a win.

Q. You've seen a lot of Marc‑Andre Fleury over the years. In what way is the guy you're looking at now? Is he different not only from early this season, but over the course of time that you've gone against him?

COACH STEVENS: I think he's always been a great young talent going back to this time with the world junior team, and coming up as a young player. He spent time in the minors. We saw him quite a bit. I think there were times early in his career that he looked unbeatable some nights. Then other nights he didn't look quite as sharp.

I think you see that with any young player. There is consistency in his game. To me he looks like a player that plays consistently strong every night. He's been terrific in the playoffs. Their team defense has been terrific in front of them. He's athletic, he's aggressive, and he challenges and handles the puck quite well for a young goalie.

So much like the young players on both teams, he's emerged and developed a level of consistency as a very good player. So he's a good player right now and playing with a lot of confidence.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


How come it is every time the Flyers make a great postseason run, they seem to be doomed by a crippling injury to one or more of their top players?

Whether it was Tim Kerr's shoulder, Dave Poulin's ribs, Eric Lindros' head, Eric Desjardins' wrist...

... or Kimmo Timonen's blood clot?

That's right, Timonen is most likely done or the season with a blood clot atop his right foot, resulting from a wicked slap shot from Montreal's Andrei Markov in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Just when there was reason for hope that the Flyers could end a 33-year Stanley Cup drought, they are blindsided by a weird injury to their best player.

It's like they made a deal with the devil to win in 1974 and 1975, and that every time they came close from there to eternity they would be smacked with a deflating injury to a key player that would prevent any sipping from the Stanley Cup on Broad Street.

There was definitely a somber mood in the phone conversations with Timonen and general manager Paul Holmgren, but coach John Stevens kept a stiff upper lift and remained positive.

But, the fact that the team took a bunker mentality (shout out out Ray Rhodes) in Pittsburgh and weren't available for comment, says to me that the team is not as confident as the coach would lead us all to believe.

It looks like Jaroslav Modry will be called on to step in for the Flyers, and that Derian Hatcher will be paired with Braydon Coburn on the top defensive pairing.

That means Jason Smith and Randy Jones will have the task of slowing a determined Sidney Crosby.


It's not looking good at this point for the Flyers.


Kimmo Timonen will miss the remainder of the playoffs with a blood clot.

Media conference call at 6:40 p.m.

More details to follow, but this is horrible news for the Flyers.


With what seems like six months between the end of the Eastern Conference semifinals and the start of the Eastern Conference finals, I found myself taking in an AHL playoff game last night between the Phantoms and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

And while it was an ugly game, and poorly officiated at the same time, making for an even worse scenario from the viewing perspective, I did take stock in the players that were NHL caliber playing for the Phantoms.

Well, there's Nate Guenin, the young defenseman who appears to have the chops as well as the skill set to be a back of the rotation guy on the blue line.

And there's Andreas Nodl, a prospect winger, who wearing the No. 40 looked a lot like Vinny Prospal in stature. He's got an NHL future for certain.

Outside of that.... yikes.

Sure, Denis Gauthier should never have been in the AHL, but he's a financial casualty.

And then there's the retreads. You know, the middling guys who are constantly called up or sent down as an NHL season progresses, and yet, none of them ever stick in the Pros.

Those types are Boyd Kane, Darren Reid, Triston Grant, Ryan Potulny, Stefan Ruzicka. etc.

I left the game wondering, what is the real purpose of the AHL anymore?

If it's not to develop young talent to play at the next level, then what is it exactly?

Sure, several of the current Flyers came through that program, but most of them were seasoned in the AHL pre-salary cap, when the AHL was a good, solid, developmental league that provided NHL clubs with a lot of talent.

No longer.

The NHL salary cap has killed the AHL. Because teams can't spend at will, all too often, anywhere between four and six spots on an NHL roster are being taken up by guys who were AHL-only caliber pre-lockout.

Which means, that since the talent level in the NHL has been diluted, the top-tier prospects in organizations are no longer making a stop in the AHL and are going straight from junior hockey to the NHL.

The thought process is, why bother with laboring in the minors against inferior competition when the prospect is already better than a handful of players on your own team playing in the NHL.

That's why guys like Ryan Parent and Steve Downie spent significant time with the Flyers this season and not so much with the Phantoms. It's better to expose them to the NHL game then have them dominate an inferior AHL.

That's why Claude Giroux will most likely find himself on the Flyers roster next year. Ditto James vanRiemsdyk the following season.

The AHL has become a vast wasteland of castoff hockey players, with only the occasional diamond-in-the-rough ever really becoming unearthed.

It's a shame too, because the AHL was once a great league, but the NHL destroyed it with it's cost-certainty.

Another soil mark on the legacy of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Hey all!

Back after a travel day from Montreal and an off day courtesy of my generous editor (Thank You Rob!)

The Flyers had an off day themselves today, so the only contact we had with the team was through a few conference calls with Kimmo Timonen, Mike Richards and John Stevens.

You might be a little surprised by what they had to say about Sidney Crosby... but you'll have to check out the Wednesday edition of the Daily Times for that story...

Instead, I'll tel you a little anecdote that Stevens passed on to us about his preparation for playing Pittsburgh.

Pulling out a coaching tactic he learned from Colorado Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville back in the days when Quenneville was coach of the Springfield Falcons of the AHL and Stevens was a player, Stevens asked each Flyer to do research and provide a scouting report to the them about one player.

Stevens handed out assignments based on matchups, so it's a safe bet that Evgeni Malkin went to Timonen and Crosby went to Hatcher, or something like that.

Stevens: “I had one coach that did something similar to that and I thought as a player it was very helpful. It narrows your focus and really gives you top to bottom look at their personnel. I played for Joel Quenneville in Springfield and we did that one year and I thought as a player it was good. It usually makes for some good humor. It gets the guys to interact. There is usually something that comes out that is a lot of fun. It doesn’t take a long time to do it and you usually end up learning more about the other team them you might have already known. Some of these guys have played together and they know each other well. Some of these guys have played in World Junior Tournaments together have grown up together so it is something fun that we do and it has value as well.”

Q: Any rhyme or reason who gets who?
Stevens: “We assign guys whether its similar guys who they are going to be playing against each other or guys that have played together before. There is thought that goes into it and everybody gets a player.”

The one thing that can be said about Stevens is... he keeps the guys loose at a time when being tense is the norm.

A lot of people were questioning his coaching ability down the stretch of the regular season, but let me be perfectly clear - the guy can coach.

And when the games are most important, he thrives. I witnessed it first hand in the AHL during the lockout.

In the playoffs he out-coached a couple of guys who went on to have NHL jobs.

Trent Yawney, who coached in Chicago, and some guy named Michel Therrien - the guy currently coaching the Penguins.

Don't be surprised if Stevens has a trick or two up his sleeve for the Pens in this series that Therrien may have missed in his preparation.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


og entry
Admit it, you never thought the Flyers would make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

I didn't. Never. Not at any point in the season. Even when they were closing in on Ottawa for the No. 1 seed in the East in early February.

I especially didn't think they'd still be playing hockey on Mother's Day after losing 10-in-a-row.

Then, in mid-March, after blowing a game in Boston, losing Derian Hatcher to a fractured tibia, and being run out of the igloo by the Penguins, I wrote story... make that a eulogy... for their impending funeral.

Now, I'm on board. I'm a believer. I don't doubt this team any longer. I don't care if it's Sid the Kid and the Penguins in the Conference Finals, there's nothing that makes me feel this team isn't something special.

Climb on board. Join me. Honk if you think the Flyers can reach the Finals. It's time to enjoy the ride folks, because it was supposed to be over by now. and yet somebody forgot to put on the breaks.


In another development, I talked to my oldest son, Anthony Jr. tonight after the game. I never heard him so excited. It reminded me of when I was his age, or close to it. The Flyers were going to the Finals against Edmonton and lost in seven. I hung on every faceoff like it was the most important moment in the history of time.

He was the same way.

His favorite player is R.J. Umberger. This is a relatively new favorite player for him. It has nothing to do with the fact that he had eight goals in five games against the Habs.

No, Anthony got a pair of last minute tickets to fan appreciation night back in February. It was a last minute birthday present. Completely at random, 25 tickets were drawn to receive the Flyers jerseys off their backs immediately following the game.

Out of 20,000 people in attendance, Anthony Jr. was chosen as one of the 25.

The jersey he got? Umberger of course.

And now, with Umberger having a playoff series for the ages, he's in his glory.

So, after the game, when he called me, he asked when he's getting his picture on my blog.

I thought this would be the most appropriate time - especially with Umberger being the MVP of the Conference semis.

So here's the picture at the top of this blog entry - Anthony Jr. and R.J.- I hope you're happy son.

Friday, May 2, 2008


You know, it was fun to see the Philadelphia 76ers last longer in the playoffs than Allen Iverson, albeit for only two games.

In hockey, there isn't the same feeling about Peter Forsberg from a Philadelphian's perspective, but I have to admit, there is a little bit of Schadenfreude taking place in that regard.

See, Forsberg could have come to Philadelphia. No, check that, should have come to Philadelphia.

But, when his decision was made to return to the NHL for a playoff run, he abandoned the idea of coming back to the Flyers after he watched them wallowing in a 10-game losing streak in February.

Instead he chose to make the last great playoff run with his other former team - the Colorado Avalanche.

How'd that turn out?

The Avs were unceremoniously dumped out of the playoffs by the Detroit Red Wings yesterday, losing 8-2 in Game 4 and getting swept away.

Meanwhile, the Flyers are one win away from the conference finals.

Hey, no one said Forsberg was perfect.

There is this though, and this isn't a laughing matter:

Forsberg, 34, said after the game 4 loss that an MRI on Wednesday revealed tears in both groins.

He missed the final two games of the playoffs for Colorado, and had his season, and maybe his career, end in a fashion he always despised - losing and hurt.

He ended up playing 16 games, including seven in the playoffs, after rejoining the Avs at the trade deadline with the understanding he'd play when his chronically bad ankle allowed.

Forsberg said retirement may finally be beckoning.

"Just too many injuries," Forsberg said. "If it doesn't get solved, that would be it, but we'll see what happens."

He was a great player. One of the best all-time. So if it is over for Foppa, it will be sad day for the NHL.

But, it's a shame he didn't try and make that last shot at glory with a team that has more talent and a better shot of getting there.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


For obvious reasons, R.J. Umberger's Flyer teammates call him "Cheese."

For not so obvious reasons, Umberger is third in the NHL in playoff goals.

No matter the reasons, the Flyers sure are thrilled that he picked such an opportune time to start producing.

Umberger has six goals in four games against the Canadiens. He has seven overall for the playoffs. And the fact that he is the traveling man in coach John Stevens' lineup, playing on every line and in every situation has not deterred him.

Aside from goalie Marty Biron, he is the main reason the Flyers are up 3-1 in the series heading into Saturday's Game 5.

“It seems that way," said Umberger referring to his role. "I guess that has kind of been my identity. I guess I have just been kind of a rover and I have to make the best of the opportunity. I just want to be on the ice. I enjoy playing the game, I love it. To play with a guy like Richie (Mike Richards), (Jeff) Carter, or Danny (Briere), you can’t lose either way."

And Umberger hasn't. He had 13 goals in the regular season, and has surpassed half that in just 11 games. And if somehow, someway, he and his teamates can make it past the Canadiens into the Eastern Conference Finals, Umberger will most likely see his boyhood favorites - the Pittsburgh Penguins - on the opposite side of the ice.

That too is good news.

Umberger scored six of those aforementioned 13 goals against the Penguins, including a hat trick in December.

“R.J. has been terrific," Stevens said. " R.J. deserves a lot of credit. He’s a man without a home really. I move him all over the place and I do it for the good of the team. That’s what makes him so valuable. I think we have three balanced scoring lines. I thought our fourth line was terrific, they drew a big penalty at the end there. We are capable of getting scoring from three if not four lines up front but R.J. has really stepped it up.”

Stepping up is the understatement of the year. Umberger has played so well, he's trying to earn a nice pay day this offseason.

A restricted free agent, Umberger is lookng for a pretty penny from the Flyers to stay on as the versatile forward he's been.

Currently, he makes $2.1 million. Odds are he's going to be looking for something in the neighborhood of $3.5-$4 million.

And the Flyers may have to give it to him to keep him.

That's because there are teams expected to be vultures, throwing enticing offers out to top tier talent in the restricted free agent pool, forcing the hands of the team they currently play for.

Umberger, and likewise Jeff Carter, are going to receive interest, and may have teams make them an offer.

At that point it will be up to the Flyers to match the dollar figure, or risk losing two, talented, young stars.

I talked to R.J. about this, and he really doesn't like to get into it, leaving the business side of the sport away from the media as much as possible.

But, Umberger loves Philadelphia. He wouldn't want to play anywhere else. Alas, decisions like this are made hastily sometimes, and it's a good bet Umberger would forget about Philly in an instant if he was making $4 million somewhere else.

The Flyers need to keep Umberger - and Carter. They, along with Mike Richards and Braydon Coburn, are the youthful core of the Flyers.

And considering Danny Briere, Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell and Simon Gagne are going to be here long term, the combination is a winning one for the Flyers, who should be very good for a long stretch of time ahead.

But, it comes down to making sure you pay the guys who need to get paid, and right now that's Umberger and Carter.

It would be sad to see one of the 2008 playoff heroes suddenly be dressing in a different team's duds.