Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inguirer,
If the Flyers fire Craig Berube this week - and the drumbeat emanating from Ice Station Groundhog is certainly familiar - the lucky new coach, whomever he is, will be the team's 10th in the last 20 years.
It's quite a list, traveling all the way from Terry Murray to Berube, with station stops at Wayne Cashman, Roger Neilson, Craig Ramsay, Bill Barber, Ken Hitchcock, John Stevens and Peter Laviolette.
Here's the funny thing about the coaches on that list, and it tells you more about the nature of the franchise than it does about the respective abilities of the coaches or the quality of the teams with which they were entrusted.
None of them left with a losing record.
Think about that for a moment. If general manager Ron Hextell holds to tradition - and there is no tradition like Flyers tradition - he is going to fire Berube and the team will have parted ways with nine straight coaches who were .500 or better on points percentage. I would challenge anyone to find another franchise in professional sports that went through as many coaches in a 20-year span and never fired a loser.
Well, Ed Snider always said he wanted the franchise to make history. This record will stand for a while.
If Hextall really wants to send a message to the players and the entire organization, he will stand in front of the microphones Wednesday at his season-ending news conference and give Berube a contract extension. Berube isn't the problem. The problem is believing that a little tinkering with the roster and a new coach will fix things.
from Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News,
“I still believe in myself and think I can bring a lot to the team. I think to produce you need a little bit of time on the ice and you get opportunities. I didn’t feel I really got that this year.”
-Vinny Lecavalier on exit day for the Philadelphia Flyers. Sam Carchidi of Broad Street Bull has more from Lecavalier.
What little unwritten rule of sportsmanship did Chris Kunitz break on Sunday that sparked an unruly battle between the benches between the Flyers and Penguins?
The Flyers did win the game, 4-1.
from Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News,
Del Zotto made $1.3 million this season. It's a big trim from the $2.9 million he earned last season. He obviously isn't at Drew Doughty's level ($7 million), but he's closer to a James Wisniewski ($5.5 million) than Nick Grossmann ($3.5 million) in pay scale.
To this point, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said negotiations have not begun. The Flyers will retain Del Zotto's rights so long as they offer him a $1.3 million qualifying offer, which his agent, Mark Guy, said he fully expects....
Could this be a complicated negotiation?
"I have no idea," Hextall said. "Personally, I don't think it should be difficult. I think we know where he was, we know where he is. I think two reasonable people can probably put something together that's fair for both sides. I don't anticipate [it], but until you get there, you don't know."
Hextall said the Flyers could be interested in a longer term deal "depending on the numbers." They'll probably need to pay to buy up a few of his unrestricted years. Del Zotto is also arbitration-eligible should an impasse arrive.
from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
The Flyers have a glaring need for a No. 1 defenseman, but because of salary-cap problems, Hextall said that player would have to come from within the organization. In other words, prospects such as Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim, and Shayne Gostisbehere would have to develop into top blue-liners.
Hextall said that he would have to give "a half-dozen pieces away" to get a first-pair defenseman and that he wasn't going to do it. "We're going to build from within."
Hextall hinted that he would like the team to get younger.
"I can assure you, I'm not going to trade young players for 30-year-olds," he said. "Not happening."
Hextall said he does not foresee problems re-signing Michael Del Zotto, who is a restricted free agent.
"I don't think it should be difficult," he said, aware that another team could sign the 24-year-old defenseman to an offer sheet.
more on the Flyers...
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Within the long and difficult history of NHL theater in Pennsylvania, few performances had less tangible import than Wednesday night’s Penguins-Flyers appointment, only the third of this season but the 272nd since both franchises were newborns just 48 years ago.
As a general practice, when the setting is adjacent to three rivers, the local populace brings to the situation enough venom to fill all three to flood stage, which is perhaps why the entanglement Wednesday was so unusual.
Pittsburgh’s frothing fan base wanted something different this time, owing to the unusual balance of power in the Metropolitan Division, where the Penguins are preparing for the postseason just as the Flyers are packing for some truly fabulous extended vacations.
When the Flyers are sipping champagne in the south of France or frolicking with supermodels on some remote Pacific Isle, the Penguins will be mucking it up in the fabulous Nassau Coliseum, now with actually very little asbestos.
Wait a minute. Does that sound like a good deal?
Somehow, it’s preferred.
Penguins loyalists prefer their Flyers game plans to toggle between aggravated assault and attempted homicide, or, put another way, to be the mirror image of the one most frequently delivered by Philadelphia. But if there were a behavioral phrase more apt Wednesday night, and certainly more hoped for, it was, um, “Be nice!”
from Stephen Whyno of the CP at the Globe and Mail,
No one gets under the skin of the Pittsburgh Penguins like the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I think honestly we take them out of their game,” Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds said several months ago. “I think they hate us so much that everyone’s blood is just boiling the whole game.”
Simmonds is injured and won’t play in Wednesday’s game, but the rest of the Flyers will try to continue to get in the Penguins’ heads. They’re artists at it the way captain Sidney Crosby is at piling up points, and to keep the latter from scoring at will, other opponents have begun following the Flyers’ lead.
“Obviously when you play against one of the best players in the world, you want to try and do something to stop him,” Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux said Tuesday. “Whatever it takes to get under his skin, I think we’re going to try to do.”
from Stephen Whyno of the CP at Yahoo,
"Maybe it's just a better opportunity I need," Lecavalier said. "It happens to a lot of guys. Sometimes you just have to get out of it, try to get out of it and work hard through it and maybe another opportunity will happen."
Lecavalier is in the process of selling his home in Tampa, Fla., and is renting a house in the Philadelphia area. After 14 seasons as the face of the Lightning franchise, uncertainty has become the new normal for the Ile Bizard, Que., native.
Owed another $2 million roster bonus this summer, Lecavalier will have made $14 million of the $22.5 million from his contract before stepping onto the ice next season. Counting buyout payments from the Lightning that run through the 2026-2027 season, Lecavalier could earn the most money of any player in NHL history, with Jaromir Jagr the only active challenger.
Lecavalier said he wouldn't ask the Flyers to buy him out of this deal. He just wants to play.
"I feel like I've trained my whole career to extend those years and feel good when I'm 35, 36, 37 years old," he said. "I feel like it's not a matter of not having legs or anything like that. I was never a really fast guy. I've always been the same speed. I feel good."
from Randy Miller of NJ.com,
Despite a feeling around hockey that Lecavalier is untradeable because of the length of his contract and declining offensive statistics, there does seem to be a way to work a divorce that will make both sides happy.
The Flyers, in fact, came very close to trading twice Lecavalier last summer, NJ Advance Media has learned. Lecavalier almost was moved to the Florida Panthers in June, and he twice almost was dealt to the Nashville Predators in July.
The reason neither trade was completed, according to sources, is that Panthers and Predators ownership called off the otherwise done deals.
"I think there are enough people in hockey circles that know that the deal was awfully close with Nashville," Kent Hughes, Lecavalier's agent, told NJ Advance Media in a phone interview. "I can't comment on specifics. Unfortunately, it didn't materialize for reasons other than personnel."
There's reason to believe that Lecavalier could be tradable this summer as well, despite very disappointing 2014-15 stats: seven goals, 17 points and a minus-10 rating in 51 games, almost all of them coming with the natural center playing right wing on the Flyers' fourth line.
via Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News,
The Flyers' win over Chicago on Wednesday night came at a price.
Forward Wayne Simmonds and defenseman Andrew MacDonald will both miss the remaining seven games of the season, general manager Ron Hextall announced after the game. Both players blocked shots in the third period, resulting in apparent fractures.
Simmonds limped off the bench at the end of the game with a left leg injury. MacDonald appeared to get caught with a shot on his right hand.
Simmonds, 26, scored his 100th career goal as a Flyer (284 games) earlier in the night. He will ultimately fall short of the elusive 30-goal plateau - ending his season with 28, one short of the career-high 29 he set last year. Only 9 players in the NHL currently have 30 goals.
MacDonald, 29, finishes out a trying first full season with the Flyers with another injury. He injured his knee in October, causing him to miss 10 consecutive games until Nov. 19. After that, he's been a healthy scratch for six games at varying times in the year, including three in a row after missing a game to attend the funeral of his grandmother in Nova Scotia. He admitted playing under the expectations of a six-year, $30 million deal has been burdensome.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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