Danny Syvret

Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Winter Classic Memories: Syvret’s first NHL goal comes at Fenway Park

Every Tuesday in December we’ll be looking back at some Winter Classic memories as we approach the 2020 game on Jan. 1 between the Stars and Predators from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.

Danny Syvret was cautious not to get too confident about potentially being in the Philadelphia Flyers’ lineup for the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park. The 2005 third-round pick had spent most of his professional career playing in the American Hockey League, but an opportunity arose that had him eyeing playing in that year’s outdoor game.

By the 2009-10 season, Syvret had only played in 28 NHL games. He found himself up and down between the Flyers’ AHL affiliate in Adirondack, and when Ryan Parent was injured a few days before New Year’s Day playing in the Winter Classic against the Boston Bruins took a big step towards reality. 

But due to life as a regular call up, Syvret wasn’t allowing himself to believe he was going to play. At least not yet. His parents flew in last-minute just in case he was given the opportunity. Yet it wasn’t until the Flyers’ New Year’s Eve practice when he took regular line rushes that belief started to take hold.

Aside from hoping to lock down a regular roster spot on the Flyers, Syvret was also carrying an NHL goalless drought. A scorer during his junior days with the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights and the previous season in the AHL when he popped in 12 goals, he had gone 43 NHL games without a goal.

As much as Syvret was focused on staying in the NHL, the drought was definitely on his mind.

“You’re an offensive guy in junior and an offensive guy in the minors and you want to transition that into your NHL game,” Syvret told NBC Sports recently. “And when you’re sitting with a goose egg, it just doesn’t look good. One goal is not much different, but when you’re looking at zero to one versus 12 to 13, it’s a big jump. 

“It weighed on me a little bit, but it’s not like I was trying to go out and score. I wasn’t changing my game. I knew I had to have some sort of offensive output or else my chances to play in the NHL were slowly going to diminish on me.”

While Syvret had a lot on his mind, one person was feeling good about what might happen in the game. The day before the 2010 Winter Classic, Syvret’s friend, NHL photographer Dave Sandford, predicted his pal would break that goose egg the next day on the Fenway Park ice.

Sandford, who took the above photo after the game, would turn out to be prophetic.

Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette included Syvret was in the Flyers’ lineup for the game. Now that he no longer had to wonder about playing, the then 24-year-old made sure to enjoy as much of the experience as possible — from the walk out of the dugout to the scenic view inside the historic baseball stadium to the Stealth Bomber flyover as the teams waited for puck drop in front of 38,112 fans.

Once the game began it was all business, and Syvret would soon add to memories by opening the scoring early in the second period.

Syvret’s first NHL goal nearly came moments before he twirled and fired from the faceoff circle to beat Tim Thomas. As a rebound from a Jeff Carter shot came out to the side boards, the left-handed shot defenseman, who made sure to shoot around an incoming Marc Savard otherwise a three-on-one was likely going the other way, fired a blast that was denied with a two-pad stack from the Bruins netminder.

Why was Thomas down on the ice? Well, Scott Hartnell being Scott Hartnell crashed the net and bumped into Thomas. As the puck squirted out to the circle, which was retrieved by Syvret, Thomas then decided to exact some revenge on the Flyers forward by giving Hartnell a shove. 

The only problem for Thomas was that at that same time Syvret was turning and whipping the puck on target, which would end up in the back of the net for a 1-0 Flyers lead.

“[The first shot] would have been a prettier goal if I would have elevated it a little more so Thomas didn’t make the two-pad stack,” said Syvret, who became the first NHL player to score his first goal in an outdoor game. “But a goal is a goal.”

Syvret had no idea about the Hartnell/Thomas commotion in front and was hoping for a deflection or rebound as he turned and fired the puck. He didn’t even realize Thomas was down on the ice until he saw a replay following the game, which the Bruins would win in in overtime, 2-1.

The goal drought was over and a short-lived streak was about to be born. Two games later Syvret would record his second career NHL goal with a laser during a win against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“That was a pretty one. I wish that would have been my first one,” Syvret said with a laugh.

A separated shoulder ended Syvret’s season three games later and he would play only 10 more NHL games in his career. After several years in the AHL, he finished as a professional playing parts of two seasons in Germany. 

Today Syvret works as a financial advisor with Canada Life and will be starting up his own firm in 2020. He also has gotten into coaching youth hockey with former NHLer Jason Williams. The pair lead the AAA Elgin Middlesex Chiefs in Ontario with a team full of OHL hopefuls.

Two years after Syvret’s first NHL goal, another Flyer would record his first outdoors when Brayden Schenn, like Syvret, opened the scoring for the Flyers by beating New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist at Citizen Bank Park during the 2012 Winter Classic.

Almost a decade later, the memories are still there for Syvret, whose first goal holds extra special meaning for him.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play World Juniors, Memorial Cup, and obviously your first NHL game is big,” Syvret said, “but for me, that was probably the biggest NHL game for me because one, it’s outdoor, and two, I scored my first ever goal. 

“Forever I’ll remember playing at Fenway.”

NBC will air the 2020 NHL Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas, at 1 p.m. ET.

PREVIOUSLY:
The snow storm at The Big House

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Rangers and Flyers swap minor leaguers

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The Rangers and Flyers aren’t ever known for trying to help each other out, but that didn’t stop them from swapping minor league depth players.

New York sent forward Kris Newbury to Philadelphia in exchange for defenseman Danny Syvret. Each player has their own note of significance to their credit.

Newbury took Brad Richards’ spot in the Rangers lineup in the playoffs when then coach John Tortorella decided Richards wasn’t getting it done. In the three playoff games he saw this season, he had no points and two penalty minutes. He spent most of his season with the Connecticut Whale in the AHL. As a rugged forward with the ability to handle his own in a fight, he fits the Flyers’ M.O. pretty well.

Syvret adds some defensive depth to a Rangers team that needs it. His claim to fame is that he scored the Flyers’ first and only Winter Classic goal in the 2010 game against Boston. He spent all of last season with the Adirondack Phantoms in the AHL and did fairly well scoring six goals and adding 34 assists. His downfall? He was a minus-21 on a poor Phantoms squad.

Late scratch: Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger out of tonight’s Game 2 vs. Boston

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Call us jinxes if you’d like but after we’d reported earlier that there would be no lineup changes for either team in tonight’s Game 2 between Philadelphia and Boston, there will be one late change and it’s a big one. Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger is out of tonight’s game with an as yet unknown malady. Danny Syvret will jump into the starting lineup in his place.

Pronger returned to the Flyers lineup late in the first round against the Sabres after dealing with a broken hand that kept him out of action through the end of the regular season. He played in the final two games of the first round and played in Game 1 against Boston, a game that saw the Flyers get pounded 7-3 thanks to a mix of poor defense and goaltending.

Pronger’s presence is normally one of bruising hits and intimidation. In the three games he’s played, however, guys have taken their pokes at him and have gotten him to take ill-timed penalties in retaliation. His and the rest of the Flyers work defensively in Game 1 against Boston left a lot to be desired. We’ll be eager to hear just what is bothering Pronger and has him out of the lineup tonight, but until then we’ll have to work under the assumption that his hand is causing him trouble again.

We’ll see how his absence affects the Flyers play tonight. If the rest of the defense can’t tighten things up this game could turn ugly again on the scoreboard. The Flyers will need to be a lot smarter in this game all around and not having Pronger out there could be a big problem.

Game 2 injury notes: Chris Pronger game time decision; Henrik Zetterberg out once again

While the Flyers and Red Wings won’t play their respective Game 2’s until Saturday, each team gave updates on a pair of important players to their Stanley Cup hopes.

Chris Pronger will be a game time decision for the Flyers in Game 2 against Buffalo on Saturday afternoon according to GM Paul Holmgren.

Pronger is still rehabbing his broken hand and while he’s skating with the team and doing drills, but it hasn’t been healthy enough to get him into the lineup. The Flyers did well last night against Buffalo, but one missed coverage mistake by injury replacement Danny Syvret led to Patrick Kaleta’s goal, the only one of the game.

It’s clear that Pronger’s presence would give the Flyers a huge lift defensively and help snap them back to order all around. After all, would you get caught screwing up while he’s on the bench and on the ice to bark at you? Not a chance.

As for Detroit, they’ll be without Henrik Zetterberg in Game 2 against Phoenix on Saturday at 1 p.m. on NBC. The Wings did just fine without Zetterberg in Game 1 beating the Coyotes 4-2. Getting him back in the lineup will be necessary to the team’s Stanley Cup hopes and while they were able to stay strong in Game 1, don’t expect the Coyotes to wither against the Wings.

On the upside for the Wings, Zetterberg will travel with the team to Phoenix for Games 3 and 4. While that doesn’t guarantee he’ll even play then, it means he’ll continue working out with the team and skating as he tries to get back from a knee injury.

Flyers and Ducks swap minor leaguers in four-player deal

The Flyers were able to clear their farms system of a problem child while bringing back a familiar name from last season. In a deal that features players more likely to see time in the AHL, the Flyers sent forwards Pat Maroon and David Laliberte to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Danny Syvret and forward Rob Bordson.

The name you’ll likely know in this deal is Danny Syvret who spent time last year with the Flyers and saw some time in the NHL throughout the year. Syvret signed with Anaheim as a free agent in the off-season but with the young defensemen in Anaheim rising through the ranks, Syvret saw his chances of cracking the Ducks lineup disappear fast.Returning him to Philadelphia (or Adirondack as it was) gives him a team to be more comfortable with.

Meanwhile, the story with Pat Maroon is a bit more interesting as Ryan Bright of PhilaBright shares with us.

The trade was accelerated by the organization’s need to move Maroon, who was the Phantoms’ top forward, with five goals and three assist in his first nine games. However, clashes with then coach Greg Gilbert, forced the organization to send Maroon home to await relocation. Gilbert was also eventually fired.

Cleaning house in Adirondack was necessary as the Phantoms are 3-14-2 this season. Trading out a headache for familiarity at the organizational level can sometimes be all you need.