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Goalie fight! Flyers’ Ray Emery squares off against Capitals’ Braden Holtby

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By Eli Bernstein

It’s been a tough season so far for the Flyers. An 0-3 start led to the (probably overdue) firing of coach Peter Laviolette in October, but the shakeup on the bench hasn’t resulted in a turnaround. Thanks mostly to an anemic offense and hit-or-miss defense, Philadelphia is currently sitting on six points, good for last place in the entire NHL.

The Flyers’ offense wasn’t exactly its usual moribund self, and actually got off 30 shots against Caps netminder Braden Holtby. Not one found the back of the net though, and so after Ward scored 5:23 into the third period to make the score 7-0, the hosts decided to make some fireworks with their fists instead.

The brouhaha began after Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds leveled Caps defenseman Steve Olesky with a check near the Washington blue line. Tom Wilson immediately came to his teammate’s defense, and as the refs watched the two tangle, Flyers goalie Ray Emery rushed down the ice, intent on going mano-a-mano with his counterpart Holbty.

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  • Published On Nov 01, 2013
  • Colorado Avalanche trade Steve Downie to Philadelphia Flyers for Max Talbot

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    Steve Downie has been traded from Colorado to Philadelphia

    Steve Downie’s rough and tumble style makes him a natural-born Flyer. (David Zalubowski/AP)

    By Allan Muir

    Shortly after the fiesty Colorado winger had his right ACL blown out on a hit from Los Angeles defenseman Davis Drewiske last January, a scout offered up this thought to the assembled press box wags: “The Avs aren’t the same team without Steve Downie in the lineup.”

    We’ll see now if that’s really true.

    Colorado today sent Downie back to the Philadelphia Flyers, the team that originally chose him in the first round of the 2005 draft, in exchange for veteran winger Max Talbot.

    Just 26, Downie is clearly the better player at this point, but it’s his born-to-be-a-Flyer approach to the game that the struggling Philly side desperately craves. Despite a reputation for mayhem earned earlier in his career, he’s matured into a solid performer who can make things happen with speed and creativity as easily as with a big hit. He had one goal and seven points for the Avs, an output that ties him with Vinnie Lecavalier for the Flyers’ team lead, and while he’s not a premium player himself, he has the tools to work well with guys who are — see his time in Tampa Bay alongside Steven Stamkos. Expect to see him line up alongside Claude Giroux in an effort to create some space for/light a fire under the struggling captain.

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  • Published On Oct 31, 2013
  • Philadelphia Flyers owner gets feisty in defense of team’s culture, GM

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    By Allan Muir

    While Peter Laviolette was a popular choice among pundits who were looking to tag the first coach to be fired this season, most figured he’d survive the opening week.

    But with his Flyers off to an 0-3 start and showing much the same formless game that left them outside the playoff mix last season, Laviolette was cashiered this morning, setting a modern-day record with the alacrity of his dismissal. The all-time mark for quickest firing after the start of a season is Paul Thompson of the Blackhawks getting the can after one game of the 1944-45 campaign. Bill Gadsby (Red Wings, 1969-70) got two games and Fred Glover (Golden Seals, 1971-72) three before they headed for the door.

    Laviolette is being replaced by assistant Craig Berube.

    You can certainly argue the timing — if Lavy’s leash was going to be that short, why let him start the season in the first place? — but you can’t argue the rationale. Philly was lousy through those three games, outscored 9-3, outshot by an average of nearly seven per game, and poorly executing an aggressive system for which the players seem ill-suited.

    Those are the sort of indictments that can get a coach fired. But that always seems to be the answer in Philly, doesn’t it? Maybe after going through 11 coaches in 20 years, it’s fair to ask if there’s a more pressing issue affecting the organization.

    Just don’t dare ask owner Ed Snider.

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  • Published On Oct 07, 2013
  • Being over the NHL salary cap isn’t so bad after all

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    Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers

    A little shell game with Brayden Schenn may be what it takes for the Flyers to get under the cap. (Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    With less than two weeks until the start of training camp, it’s clear that this year’s $64 million salary cap won’t be the financial sharknado that many feared.

    Despite the sharp reduction from last year’s prorated $70.2 million ceiling, most clubs appear to be in fair shape — if a bit shorter on breathing room than they’d like. There are some perfectly serviceable veterans who still find themselves on the outside looking in, of course, but that would have been the case no matter where the cap had been set.

    Not every team is set to be in compliance, though. Six are believed to be over the $64 million limit. But even with some tough decisions looming, it seems that cap-space hell isn’t as bad as it’s cracked up to be.

    Take the Flyers. According to capgeek, they’re about $2 million over the cap, but they are also two players over the 23-man roster limit. With 10 defenders on NHL deals, it’s a safe bet that Philadelphia will trade or waive two of them. Bruno Gervais ($825,000) and Marc-Andre Bourdon ($612,500) are likely targets. Waiving veteran forward Jay Rosehill ($675,000) would cover the difference, but if the Flyers don’t want to risk losing his intimidating presence, they could demote forward Brayden Schenn for a game and then call him back up for Game 2 after putting defenseman Chris Pronger and his $4,941,929 contract on long-term injured reserve.

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  • Published On Sep 03, 2013
  • Ron Hextall returns to Flyers, GM Paul Holmgren tries on the short leash

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    Ron Hextall hoists the Los Angeles Kings' Stanley Cup after their 2012 title. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Ron Hextall hoists the Los Angeles Kings’ Stanley Cup after their 2012 title. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    The Philadelphia Flyers on Monday named Ron Hextall assistant general manager and director of hockey operations.

    A surprising move, but you can’t argue the smarts. Hextall is regarded as an up-and-coming executive whose skills have been coveted around the league for several years.

    The question is, was this simply a chance taken to add a highly-regarded thinker to the team’s pool of builders and assessors…or is this a clear sign the leash has shortened considerably for GM Paul Holmgren?

    “We are very pleased to welcome back Ron Hextall to our management team,” Holmgren said in a statement, apparently without loosening his necktie, Rodney Dangerfield-style. “Ron has a wealth of experience in the front office in various capacities which will be a valuable addition to our staff.”

    True enough.

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  • Published On Jul 15, 2013
  • Reports: NHL free agent Ray Emery leaves Blackhawks to sign with Flyers

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    Goaltender Ray Emery has signed with the Philadelphia Flyers

    Ray Emery returns to the Flyers with a real chance to be their starter next season. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Multiple sources are reporting that former Chicago Blackhawks backup goaltender Ray Emery will sign with the Philadelphia Flyers this afternoon.

    It’s a one-year deal that will pay him $1.65 million.

    Emery was an astonishing 17-1 with the Hawks this season, but those were heavily protected results and he had no chance of usurping the No. l job from Corey Crawford. He’ll have a legitimate opportunity to earn that responsibility in Philadelphia, where he previously played during the 2009-10 season, going 16-11-1.

    He’ll battle Steve Mason, who had a 1.90 GAA and .944 save percentage in seven games with Philly after being acquired from Columbus at the deadline. Neither is expected to maintain those kind of numbers over a complete season, but the hope is that the competition will drive each man to his best performance.

    While Emery is a rasonable add for Philly, they really had no other legitimate options. With virtually no room available under the salary cap, the Flyers were limited to investing just over $3 million in their two keepers. Once Boston signs Tuukka Rask and Toronto inks Jonathan Bernier, Philadelphia will have the lowest-paid tandem in the league.

    The duo may offer up more consistent goaltending than the departed Ilya Bryzgalov and if they do, that’s a huge win for GM Paul Holmgren. But Flyers fans have suffered through seasons of afterthought netminding before. And it hasn’t been pretty.


  • Published On Jul 05, 2013
  • Report: Vincent Lecavalier to sign with Philadelphia Flyers

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    Coveted NHL free agent Vincent Lecavalier will sign with the Philadelphia Flyers

    Former Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier will join the Flyers, but it’s unclear if they have enough cap space. [AP]

    By Allan Muir

    Someone needs to check with Paul Holmgren and make sure he got that memo about the salary cap going down next season.

    You have to assume Philadelphia’s GM either missed it or isn’t very strong at math after sources began reporting that he had signed free agent forward Vincent Lecavalier to a five-year, $22.5 million deal (not $23.5 as Tim Panaccio first reported below).

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  • Published On Jul 02, 2013
  • Tim Thomas and the Philadelphia Flyers: So crazy, it might work

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    Will any team risk attracting outside distraction with bringing Tim Thomas into the fold? (Winslow Townson/AP)

    Will any team risk attracting outside distraction with bringing Tim Thomas into the fold? (Winslow Townson/AP)

    By Allan Muir

    Maybe he ran out of food. Or ammunition. Or maybe the thought of missing out on the high-brow hilarity of “Grown Ups 2″ was just too much to bear.

    Whatever the reason, Tim Thomas has finally emerged from his bunker deep in the Colorado wilderness. And after a year in seclusion, hockey’s favorite strict constructionist has put out the word that he’s ready to strap on the pads and stop pucks for a living again.

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  • Published On Jul 02, 2013
  • It’s official: Flyers buy out Danny Briere

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    Daniel Briere's contract was bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers.

    It was Danny Briere’s cap hit, not his salary that ended his time in Philadelphia after six years. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

    By Allan Muir

    After months of speculation, the Flyers just made it official: they’re buying out the final years of Danny Briere’s contract.

    “I met with Danny last week and informed him of our decision to use a compliance buyout on his contract,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said in a prepared statement released early this afternoon. “This was a very difficult decision for us to make as Danny has been a very good player for us over the past six years. Danny came to our organization as a free agent in July of 2007 and has been a tremendous player, person and role model in all aspects and for that we thank him. We wish him continued success and best wishes in any future endeavors.”

    Briere had just two years and $5 million remaining on his deal, but it was his $6.5 million cap hit, not his salary, that forced the separation. The buyout wipes that hit off Philly’s cap, although the Flyers still have to pay Briere 66 percent of his remaining money owed ($3.3 million) over the next four years.

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  • Published On Jun 20, 2013
  • Flyers take a chance, deal for rights to Isles captain Mark Streit

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    Flyers acquire Mark Streit from Islanders

    Acquiring Isles captain Mark Streit could really help the Flyers on power plays. (Justin K. Aller/Getty)

    By Allan Muir

    Facing both a dearth of talent on their blueline and an historically weak free agent crop, the Philadelphia Flyers made a preemptive strike Wednesday. They acquired the rights to New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit in exchange for a fourth round pick in 2014 and Adirondack Phantoms winger Shane Harper.

    It’s a low-risk/high-reward venture for Philly GM Paul Holmgren, a man with a lot of work ahead of him this summer to rebuild a team that came nowhere close to living up to expectations this season.

    He’s had luck fishing these waters before, paying for the chance to negotiate exclusively with a player before they hit free agency, picking up Kimmo Timonen from the Predators. He’s also come up short, acquiring and then redealing Dan Hamhuis when he could seal a deal before free agency.

    But at this point, it sounds like there’s a deal to be made with Streit, a 35-year-old with extremely low mileage on his tires after just seven years in the NHL.

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  • Published On Jun 13, 2013


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