Welcome back: Flyers re-acquire Downie, send Talbot to Avs


Philadelphia has made a significant roster shakeup, acquiring former Flyer and notorious pest Steve Downie from Colorado in exchange for Maxim Talbot.

Downie, 26, was Philly’s first-round pick (29th overall) at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, and spent two seasons with the team before being dealt to Tampa Bay during the 2008-09 campaign.

He’ll return to a Flyers club looking for a spark to snap out of its 3-8-0 start to the year. Downie will certainly bring energy and some offense — he has seven points in 11 games this year — but he’s also earned a reputation as a reckless, occasionally undisciplined player, and head coach Craig Berube has stressed a need for discipline and fewer penalties this season.

As for Talbot, he heads to Colorado after three seasons with the Flyers.

Talbot, 29, has struggled recently after scoring a career-high 19 goals in his first season in Philly — he has six goals in his last 46 games, and just one this season. That said, Berube had been using Talbot as a top-six winger in recent games and based on a statement released by Avs executive VP Joe Sakic, Colorado sounds thrilled to acquire Talbot

“Maxime is a veteran forward who has won a Stanley Cup and has a lot of NHL experience,” Sakic said. “We’re looking forward to him bringing that experience to our club.”

It’s very possible Patrick Roy wanted Talbot on the recommendation of Benoit Groulx, his former QMHJL coaching adversary. Groulx coached Talbot with the Hull Olympiques in 2002-03, the same year Talbot tore it up by scoring 46 goals and 104 points in 69 games.

Earlier this year, reports out of Quebec claimed Groulx turned down an assistant coaching gig with the Avs to remain in junior.

From a contractual perspective, Downie carries a $2.65 million cap hit compared to Talbot’s $1.75 million, but Talbot has three years remaining on his deal whereas Downie’s an unrestricted free agent at year’s end.

Flyers GM on home woes: “Maybe we should have bench-clearing brawls again”


Philadelphia has long been regarded as a tough place to play for visiting teams — but this year, it hasn’t been very kind to the home team.

The Flyers have just 11 wins in 22 games at the Wells Fargo Center, tied for the second-fewest in the Eastern Conference and, as CSN Philadelphia’s Tim Panaccio notes, they’re on pace to win around 20-21 games at home.

That would be the fewest since 2006-07, when the Flyers won 10 and failed to make the playoffs.

Panaccio also notes that on several occasions, “the fans get into the opposition’s face more than the Flyers.”

It’s a statement Jaromir Jagr disagreed with.

“You have to understand we play different hockey than the Flyers played 10 years ago,” Jagr said. “Ten years ago, hockey was more physical than the way we play right now. I don’t think we have the players to play that physical style. I think we are more skilled.”

GM Paul Holmgren — well aware of Philadelphia’s Broad Street Bullying past — suggested there might be something to Panaccio’s suggestion.

“The game has changed. Maybe we should have bench-clearing brawls again. Maybe that would do it,” Holmgren said. “I could remember when we go maybe the whole year and only lose four games in years past. It’s a different league now, a different game.

“At the same time, we got to find a way to get more wins in our own building.”

A big reason for Philly’s home struggles is its anemic penalty kill. The Flyers rank 25th in the league at home — killing penalties at a 78 percent clip — which os inexplicable considering they rank 11th on the road at 85.3 percent. Losing Chris Pronger (who played nearly five shorthanded minutes a game) hurts, but the team still has a slew of dedicated PK specialists at its disposal including rookie Sean Couturier, who’s been lauded for his shorthanded work this season.

One of those PK specialists, Maxim Talbot, knows how the Flyers can bump their slump at home.

“For us, it’s a matter of working hard and finishing checks,” Talbot said. “And playing Flyers hockey – which is being tough.”