Don't worry Flyers fans, the Hair Man is back

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IMG_0366.JPGIt’s been four long years, but the Hair Man is back in town.

Bill
Page of Wilmington, Delaware, known amongst the Philadelphia faithful
as “Hair Man”, spent ten years as a Flyers season ticket holder before
having to take a bit of a sabbatical four years ago. Now that the Flyers
are in the Stanley Cup finals, there’s no way he was going to sit on
the sidelines any longer.

You can catch him all game long in
section 114, although he promises he won’t be sitting for very long
while he does everything possible to get the crowd fired up for the
game. One thing he won’t promise: foul language.

He believes in
everyone having a good time, and had become somewhat famous for taunting
the opposing team during the pre-game warmups. Yet he says he does it
all in a family-friendly manner, never going overboard and never using
foul language.

As we walked through the crowd, we quickly learned that the rest
of the Flyers fans won’t make the same promise. These fans, already
fired up as they taking in a few beverages before the game, were quick
to point out that the Flyers will not only win the next of these two
games but should have won the first two as well.

Kevin Muller, a
season ticket holder for the past 20 years, contends that the Flyers
just need to find a way to get the goaltending and the offense to click
in the same game. He’s also a big fan of Dan Carcillo and was ecstatic
that the Flyers decided to insert him into the lineup. He may not have
played much, Muller said, “but he sure is good for this team.”

When
asked about the Flyers crowd, and whether the Blackhawks will have
trouble with the atmosphere in Wachovia, Muller is much more to the
point.

“Philadelphia is the absolute toughest place to play in the
NHL. That is a fact.”

His friend, Chris Moore of Lafayette HIll,
Pennsylvania, agreed. While there was no doubt amongst this group how
great the Philadelphia crowd is, and how superior this crows is when
compared to the Chicago crowd, Moore also looked longingly back at the
days of the old Spectrum.

“At the Spectrum, you were right on top
of the ice. The Wachovia Center is just more….corporate.”

That
just means the Flyers fans will have incentive to work that much harder.

Robert Ritner, a season ticket holder since the early 1980’s, says
that the Flyers just need to maintain their intensity for a full game.

“The
crowd will certainly help the Flyers get into the game early. The
Flyers have finished games strong, they just need to start off better.
The crowd will help with that.”

Ritner, who says that this past
season was a very tough one to get through for fans, is ecstatic that
they’re in the Cup finals and says he’ll be perfectly happy with the
season even if the Flyers lose. Still, this has been one heck of a ride.

“This
has been the greatest thing ever. I hate to see the season end.”

Ritner
also says that the Flyers’ secret weapon hasn’t worked all that well
for them. When asked what that secret weapon might be, he responded very
matter of fact:

“Marian Hossa.”

Rangers make changes after loss in Anaheim

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The scuffling New York Rangers — coming off a 6-3 loss Sunday in Anaheim, and with just two wins in their last seven — are expected to have a slightly different lineup tonight in San Jose.

Up front, winger Matt Puempel is likely to replace rookie Pavel Buchnevich. And on the back end, Dan Girardi will come in for Kevin Klein.

The Girardi-for-Klein switch is no huge surprise. Both d-men have been battling injuries, with Klein only returning Sunday after an extended absence due to back spasms. Head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters that he “didn’t want to put two injured defensemen in at the same time,” so Klein gets the night off tonight.

As for the potential scratching of Buchnevich, that decision would be slightly more controversial. The 21-year-old has two goals and three assists in his last 11 games, but clearly has not gained the full trust of his coach.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start in goal after a tough return to the net against the Ducks.

Canucks hint at shutting down injured Markstrom

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It doesn’t sound like Jacob Markstrom will play any more games for the Vancouver Canucks this season.

The 27-year-old goalie has been trying to recover from a knee injury suffered in the Canucks’ skills competition on Feb. 26.

“I don’t think things are great,” head coach Willie Desjardins said today. “We’ve got to make a medical decision on him.”

It has to be frustrating for Markstrom, who was hoping to challenge Ryan Miller for the starting job this year. The tall Swede played well at times, going 10-11-3 with a .910 save percentage — but in the end, he only made 23 starts.

“He’s a good goalie,” Desjardins said of Markstrom. “He can challenge for the number-one spot. Every time he goes in net, I’ve got lots of confidence in him. He’s left his mark this year.”

Markstrom is signed through 2019-20, while Miller is a pending unrestricted free agent.

It’s possible that the Canucks will re-sign Miller and come back with the same netminding tandem next season.

Oilers sign Walter Brown Award winner Gambardella

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Joe Gambardella, the UMass-Lowell senior that scored 52 points in 41 games this year, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with Edmonton, the club announced on Monday.

Gambardella, 23, captured this year’s Walter Brown award as the top American-born collegiate player in New England. He beat out the likes of Clayton Keller, Colin White, Charlie McAvoy and Tage Thompson for the honor, and joined a distinguished list of past winners.

Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey won the Walter Brown in ’16 and ’15, while Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau won it in ’14.

Gambardella is the first UMass-Lowell player to ever win the award, which has been given out annually since 1953. It capped off a nice year in which he also paced the River Hawks to the NCAA tournament.

An undrafted free agent, Gambarella’s ELC will kick in next season. It’s also worth noting that one of his UMass-Lowell teammates, defenseman Michael Kapla, signed with the Devils earlier today.

 

 

Coyotes to honor Cunningham for his ‘tremendous courage’

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The Arizona Coyotes will honor Craig Cunningham with a ceremonial puck drop on April 8 before their final home game of the season against the Minnesota Wild.

From the team press release:

Cunningham, who survived a medical emergency prior to the Tucson Roadrunners game on November 19, has made a remarkable recovery. Fans will have an opportunity to congratulate him on the tremendous courage, willpower and perseverance he’s demonstrated throughout his rehabilitation.

Cunningham was recently honored by the Roadrunners.

The 26-year-old’s hockey career is unfortunately over after doctors were forced to amputate part of his left leg due to concerns over infection.

True to form, though, he’s maintained a positive attitude.

“Obviously I miss playing every single day, and I miss the atmosphere around the locker room,” Cunningham said, per the Arizona Daily Star. “The guys have been great. From Day 1, they’ve been to see me every day. It’s been pretty incredible.”