The Philadelphia Flyers are keeping Carolina company at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division and though nothing is really surprising in that grouping, Philly clearly has the talent to be more than a basement dweller, no? Through six games, the Flyers have just one win. The underlying numbers say they’re due for a break. The eye test says they need to shape up.
The big news in the prospect world right now concerns the class-action lawsuit filed against the CHL and without going into too much detail, I think this could have a dramatic effect on junior hockey. With profits and losses so extreme across the continent, I believe a minimum wage policy would have to be supported by revenue sharing. But let’s get back on the ice, shall we? Because that’s what The Hot List is, a round-up of the kids we can’t wait to see in the NHL one day.
There was a time when I watched a hockey game and if there wasn’t a fight I felt ripped off.
I loved a good scrap; so much so that when Steve Dryden offered me a position at The Hockey News in 1992, I took the job on the condition I would never have to write an anti-fighting story. I was well-aware of Dryden’s stance that there is no place for fighting in hockey and I did not share the sentiment.
How the times have changed. I have not yet completely sided with the anti-fighting movement, but I am close. Very close. I no longer have a thirst to see two huge men pound on each other even though the dinosaur in me understands why the game needs such an outlet.
The Philadelphia Flyers suffered a scare last week when defenseman Braydon Coburn was sidelined by a lower-body injury. It raised speculation they might go shopping for blueline help if the injury was long term, but it appears he could return to action in a matter of days, rather than weeks.
For a defense corps still lacking a true top-two defenseman since Chris Pronger’s career was ended by injury three years ago, and with Kimmo Timonen sidelined with career-threatening blood clots, the possibility of losing Coburn long term was a genuine cause for concern. Read more
With NCAA hockey officially in full swing, there is action aplenty to watch for in the prospect world. Boston University’s Jack Eichel and Erie’s Connor McDavid already seem to have a fantastic game of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better going on, but who else should you be watching this season? Here are some of the other names making noise right now.
Wayne Simmonds’ Flyers team may be an ice-cold 0-2 to start the 2014-15 NHL season, but the Philadelphia right winger had his game catch fire Thursday as he scored twice in less than a minute against Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils.
Simmonds gets his first of the season by showing some serious patience before wristing the puck past Schneider late in the second period in Philadelphia. And 56 seconds later, he pushes to the front of the Devils’ net and taps in an excellent feed from Vincent Lecavalier to beat the buzzer signalling the end of the period: Read more
Ed Snider has heard the criticisms of the NHL team he has led for nearly five decades. He may even think there’s some credence to elements of them, but in a recent conversation with THN.com, the Flyers’ founder and the only owner the team was more than willing to publicly set the record straight about his hockey philosophies and his involvement with the team.
That the 81-year-old is willing to do so with one of his most frequent critics is a credit to him. And maybe that’s because, in the first year of Ron Hextall’s tenure as GM, Snider is confident about the team and feels as if he’s gotten back to his roots – the same roots that led to the franchise’s first (and only) two Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975.
Prepare yourself for the era of Patience In Philadelphia.
“Ron Hextall has come in and preached patience,” Snider said. “Ron said, ‘We’re not going to rush guys along. We’re going to develop our kids and really work on that phase of the game.’ That was my philosophy when I started the team.”
Back in those days, Snider will tell you, the Flyers were all about avoiding the trade and free agent route to improve. There was a reason why that happened – namely, that they were an expansion team – but when Philadelphia won it all in their seventh and eighth seasons of existence, his approach was validated. However, some of Snider’s critics have pointed to him straying from that philosophy as the reason Cup success has eluded the Flyers since the mid-70s. Former NHLer Bobby Holik was among those critics, claiming the consistent roster turnover every off-season led to on-ice instability. And Snider concedes that impatience became an issue for him and the team.
“Probably after five years of not winning the Cup and so forth, I started to get anxious,” Snider said. “I believe the tone of an organization comes from the top; my father always told me fish stinks from the head. And I set the tone and probably forgot my roots to a degree, wanted to win now, and lost my patience.” Read more
Full disclosure: I really, really like Chris Pronger. On the ice, he was, in my opinion, one of the most dominant players of his era and a lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Off the ice, I consider him a friend. I’m honored to have been invited by him to share in the festivities when the Peterborough Petes raise a banner in his honor Nov. 2. I have his phone number in my list of contacts and we talk regularly, mostly about hockey, but of other things as well. During his career and even in the three years since he has played, Chris Pronger has filled my notebook and tape recorder with insightful, funny and downright eye-popping quotes. I find him intelligent, irreverent and refreshing.
I also have an enormous amount of sympathy for his current situation. Because he’s still listed as an active player for salary cap purposes, he cannot get on with his life. Because he’s still employed by and being paid by the Philadelphia Flyers, he’s stuck in a no-man’s land where he can’t retire and he can’t do much of anything else. Up until last season he was at least scouting for the Flyers, but that arrangement ended when Ron Hextall took over as GM in the off-season. Read more