Rumor Roundup: Flyers need help on the blueline, but don’t expect it to come soon

(Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

The state of the Philadelphia Flyers defense core remains a troubling issue. They’ve lacked a true top-two defenseman since Chris Pronger’s career was ended by injury nearly three years ago. They attempted to address that issue in July of 2012 by signing Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber to an expensive offer sheet, but the Predators swiftly matched it.

Former GM Paul Holmgren attempted to bolster the overall blueline depth, acquiring Luke Schenn, Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald via trade and free agency. None of them, however, can fill Pronger’s skates.

The Flyers underwent a front-office shakeup this spring when Ron Hextall took over as GM. Despite Hextall’s stated preference for building from within, rumor-mongers believe the Flyers still seek a stud defenseman, linking them to Winnipeg Jets blueliner Zach Bogosian. Read more

What burning questions remain this NHL off-season?

Ryan Johansen

These truly are the dog days of summer. Players, GMs and coaches get their brief time off between the free agency boom and training camps. Media have time to do fun stuff like rank every logo in the NHL. With no hockey, we spend our nights watching Bachelor in Paradise baseball.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening in the NHL. If you squint, you’ll notice several important questions still unanswered, such as…

1. Will Columbus mend fences with Ryan Johansen and sign him long-term?

The most recent reports out of Columbus had restricted free agent Johansen and the Jackets still $3 million apart. Per season. That’s a Grand Canyonesque gap. So far, the P.K. Subban story isn’t working as a cautionary tale about short-term bridge contracts. After his bridge, Subban won the Norris Trophy and his new long-term cap hit is probably about $2 million more than it would’ve been had Montreal ponied up two years ago and paid him, say, Drew Doughty money.

The Jackets want Johansen to prove his 33-goal breakout was for real, just as they wanted Sergei Bobrovsky to back up his Vezina Trophy campaign when they inked him to a bridge deal last summer. The difference? Nothing about Johansen’s development says fluke. He has pedigree as the No. 4 overall pick in 2010. He was always supposed to be this good. There’s every reason to trust him. Columbus could live to regret a bridge contract. The East is wide open, and this team can contend with its top pivot signed and happy.

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NHL logo rankings No. 10: Philadelphia Flyers

Rory Boylen
flyershome

The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies to the black and orange logo used by the Philadelphia Flyers since they joined the NHL in 1967 as part of the first group of expansion teams.

When seven THN staffers gathered to rank the 30 NHL logos, the Flyers were almost universally considered one of the better looks in the league. But it didn’t get enough love to launch it into the top five, so here it will settle at No. 10 in our rankings.

Can you design a better look for the Flyers? Using whichever color scheme you wish (but, really, why use anything other than black and orange?) design a new look for Ed Snider’s Flyers and submit your work to editorial@thehockeynews.com. In two weeks, when our logo rankings finish, we’ll share our favorite reader redesigns. Think you have what it takes?

HISTORY OF THE FLYERS LOGO
The Flyers have been around for 47 years, but there isn’t a history of change behind the logo. When the team was accepted entry into the NHL, ownership opened up a contest to come up with a name for the team. Names related to past Philadelphia teams – Quakers, Ramblers – were popular, but Snider wanted a brand new “big league” identity. The Quakers were attached to the NHL’s record for fewest wins in a season (1930-31) and the Ramblers was the name of a minor league team. Read more

Remembering the season the Capitals begged the NHL for help

Brian Costello
short cover

Machismo and bravado being what they are, there’s no way you’d see this headline in today’s NHL, no matter how poorly the Buffalo Sabres or Edmonton Oilers started a season.

Washington Begs For Player Help

That was the main headline in The Hockey News 40 years ago, early in the 1974-75 season. The expansion Washington Capitals and Kansas City Scouts were both struggling. With just one win in Washington’s first 18 games, Capitals GM Milt Schmidt went to the league and media with hat in hand.

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Signing Michael Del Zotto an indictment of Flyers’ middling defense corps

Michael Del Zotto (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

After receiving tough news Tuesday about veteran blueliner Kimmo Timonen, the Philadelphia Flyers moved quickly to replace their most experienced defenseman by signing Michael Del Zotto to a one-year, $1.3-million contract. But the fact GM Ron Hextall turned to a former hot property whose stock has fallen precipitously is an indication Philly’s defense corps could be the area that prevents the Flyers from securing a playoff berth this season.

Since star blueliner Chris Pronger had his career ended in 2011 by post-concussion syndrome, the Flyers have been searching to bolster their blueline. Timonen and Braydon Coburn are the only holdovers from Pronger’s time in Philadelphia, and because the organization hasn’t been able to produce a home-grown d-man of impact, they’ve had to look elsewhere – namely, the New York Islanders, from whom they acquired former Isles blueliners Mark Streit (via free agency) and Andrew MacDonald (via trade). They dealt skilled young winger James van Riemsdyk to Toronto for Luke Schenn. And those moves didn’t produce the desired result; Philly was 17th in Corsi-for last season and were in the lower tier of the NHL in goals-allowed (20th overall at 2.77 goals per game).

Those numbers won’t improve with the arrival of Del Zotto, who at age 24 has arrived at a crossroads in his five-year NHL career and who had to accept a major pay cut (from $2.55 million last season) to continue playing in hockey’s top league. Read more

Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen sidelined with blood clots

Ryan Kennedy
Kimmo-Timonen

Veteran Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen is being treated for blood clots to his right leg and both lungs back home in Finland, according to the Flyers’ official website.

Timonen, 39, is in the twilight of his NHL career but was still an important part of Philly’s back end last season. His 35 points in 77 games ranked second among Flyers D-men to Mark Streit, while his 20:19 average ice time was part of a pack of four blueliners at the top. Not only that, but Timonen was far and away Philadelphia’s best puck possession player on the back end.

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Test your hockey knowledge. Take the ‘retired or active’ challenge

Jason Kay
image

Brian Boucher’s NHL career was replete with memorable, headline-making moments.

A first round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, Boucher made the NHL’s all-rookie team in 2000, led the league in goals-against average that season, set (and still holds) the league’s modern-day record for consecutive shutouts (five) and played a pivotal role in the Flyers’ march to the Stanley Cup final in 2010.

Yet, when his big league playing days fizzled, there was no major announcement. In fact, we weren’t sure if he was retired or active. After a quick Internet scan, we discovered he played five games last season for Zug in Switzerland and when that didn’t work out, he decided to pack it in.

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Bob Clarke didn’t want Russians in the NHL…and he wasn’t alone

Red Alert

Russians have had a huge impact on the NHL and the way the game is played, but their arrival in North America wasn’t without controversy.

In the August, 1989, edition of The Hockey News, a wave of Soviet stars, riding the crest of glasnost, broke down barriers and signed to play with NHL teams. Slava Fetisov and Sergei Starikov inked in New Jersey. Alexandr (that’s how he spelled it in ’89) Mogilny officially became a Sabre. And Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov were brought into the Vancouver Canucks fold.

Some natives, however, remained suspicious and opposed.

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