If the NHL season had gotten underway normally, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren would’ve spent Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. Instead, he found himself watching the Adirondack Phantoms in Glens Falls, NY taking on the Washington Capitals’ minor league affiliate, the Hershey Bears.
After seeing the Phantoms take out the Bears 3-1, I caught up with Holmgren to discuss what he thinks of his well-experienced AHLers and he likes what he’s got and feels the Flyers will be ready to go whenever the lockout ends.
“This is a good league right here,” Holmgren says of the AHL. “Every team has players that played in the NHL last year and the level of play is just ratcheted up. I think every game I’ve seen have been really good games. Very competitive, a lot of skating, fast games. I think the players that are playing, not only in the American league but all over, they get a leg up on the guys that aren’t when the league does come back.”
In the Flyers’ case, that’s a lot of guys with NHL experience.
Not only do you have future stars like Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn, but also guys who saw time in Philly like Harry Zolnierczyk, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Erik Gustafsson, Eric Wellwood, Ben Holmstrom, and Zac Rinaldo.
With the Flyers blue line having questions, Holmgren likes what’s working in the minors with guys like Bourdon and Gustafsson.
“They’re good young players and they’re good pros. This is Marc-Andre’s fourth year now so he should know his way around and it’s Erik’s third year in the league. They’re good pros. They work hard and they look after themselves and they’re very competitive players.”
It sounds as if he likes what they’ve got. Now about ending that lockout…
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.