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Ed Snider Enters U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

12 Dec

On Monday night, there was history again for Ed Snider and his Flyers. The team had its second Hall of Fame induction this season. The latest honor came in Chicago where the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame welcomed Snider along with Chris Chelios, “Doc” Emrick, Gary Suter and Keith Tkachuk.

He’s been the face of the Flyers’ franchise since Day 1 and the Flyers couldn’t be more proud.

“When you think of what he’s done in Philadelphia, Philadelphia came in [44] years ago,” said Peter Laviolette. “He had a dream and had a vision about a team in Philadelphia and had a belief it would work. He’s invested everything to get the Flyers where they are. Right now, for me, I think it stands as one of the richest, proudest franchises in the United States in regard to hockey, and that’s him.”

Snider, a Washington, D.C. native bought an NHL franchise in 1966 and started the Flyers in their 1967 inaugural season. He was a big force in the construction of the Spectrum. He took over operation of the building in 1971.

In 1996, he merged Spectacor with the Comcast Corporation to form Comcast-Spectacor.

In 2005 he established Snider Hockey, which eventually became the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, which has become a staple in the local hockey community. The Foundation provides more than 3,000 children in the greater Philadelphia region with the equipment, ice time and experienced coaching needed to play hockey.

“Not only has he built this franchise, but he’s built hockey around the Philadelphia market,” noted Laviolette. “He continually gives his time and his money to the youth around here to try to introduce them to the sport or make them better in the sport. I can’t think of anybody more deserving to be in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame than Ed Snider.”

Below is a transcription of Snider’s speech Monday night courtesy of Comcast-Spectacor:

It’s a real honor to be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and really special to be in a class with these great players, Chris Chelios, Gary Suter and Keith Tkachuk.

I’m very proud that I hired the other deserving inductee, Mike Emrick for our American Hockey League Team at the time, the Maine Mariners. I then gave him his first NHL job as TV broadcaster for the Flyers. I’m still bummed that we let the greatest hockey broadcaster ever get away!

I entered the League in 1966 when we were awarded the franchise in Philadelphia. The Hockey News voted us the least likely of the new teams to succeed. Boy, I’m sure glad they were wrong, because otherwide I wouldn’t be here today. In fact, I’m the longest serving member of the Board of Governors in the NHL.

We had six American players in the NHL in my first season – 1967. This year there are 216 American players.

Today three U.S. born players – James van Riemsdyk, Matt Carle and Sean Couturier are currently on the Flyers roster. I’m very proud that we had a hand in developing players right in our own back yard such as Mike Richter (I wish WE had drafted him).

Bobby Ryan, Mark Eaton and TJ Brennan are also from the Philadelphia area and are playing in the NHL. None of these players, and others from our area playing in juniors, college, and the minor leagues would have ever been thinking of a hockey career if we hadn’t started the Flyers in 1967. This typical of other U.S. expansion teams, and one of the reasons for the large influx of U.S. Players. Paul Holmgren, terrific player for the Flyers and now our GM, is from St. Paul, Peter Laviolette, oue Coach is from Massachusetts.

Six years ago, I started a youth hockey program for inner city kids in Philadelphia. Three years ago the city was going to close its five rinks for economic reasons. We stepped in and said we would take over management of the rinks.

We provide all of the equipment, ice time, coaching, education, free of charge to the kids. Last year we entered into a 20-year deal with the city to run the rinks. We contributed $6.5 million, matching the state and city to enclose three of the rinks. They have just been finished and they are beautiful. Now many of our 3,000 kids have ice 365 days a year. Our goal is to have 10,000 kids in the program, helping to expand the reach of hockey to more U.S. boys and girls

USA Hockey oversees this Hall of Fame and has done so many great things to advance our sport in the United States.

Congratulations on the terrific job you are doing and thanks again for this great honor.

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Couturier Relishing Opportunity To Step Up

12 Dec

VOORHEES, N.J. — When Sean Couturier made the Flyers’ roster, he was a cool customer. He didn’t show any signs of nervousness and quietly did whatever he had to in order to stick around. Now, with Claude Giroux out of the lineup, Couturier has a whole new opportunity and predictably he is just rolling with the punches.

For most of the third period on Saturday and in practice on Monday, Couturier took Giroux’s spot in between Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr.

“You know, we had to move somebody up,” said Peter Laviolette. “Claude wasn’t on the ice. We finished the game that way the other night, we had moved Sean up there. He generated two or three good quality scoring chances. We just had to get through practice today, and we’ll figure out the lines and the lineup tomorrow.

“But just based on the way he finished the game the other night, we thought he did a good job so we put him there in practice.”

By all accounts, it looks like Couturier will play the same role in Washington on Tuesday and that’s just fine with him.

“It’s pretty fun,” said the rookie. “Obviously you gotta be always ready when they’re out there. Some passes you don’t expect sometimes that those guys can make so I’ve always got to be ready if I play with them.

“Obviously it’s a big spot to be in but I’m just gonna be myself and do whatever I can to help the team.”

Giroux has 16 goals and 23 assists. He’s the leading scorer in the NHL. That obviously isn’t the expectation for 19-year-old Couturier, nor does he feel the pressure to fill his teammate’s skates.

“Not really,” said Couturier. “It’s an opportunity so I try to see it that way and just do what I can do to help the team.

“I try to play the same way, two-way forward. I still have to take care of my own end first. When we’re in the offensive zone we obviously can create more. With those two guys, they have a lot of talent so it’s easier to create stuff.”

His new linemates are guys he hasn’t skated with all season, not even in practice and not in preseason. They’ve watched each other from the bench, but the final 20 minutes of Saturday’s game was the first time they’re really gotten to know each other as players.

“I think all of his game is underrated,” said Jagr of his new center. “I can see he’s a great player. When he’s had a chance to play, he’s a very good player. He’s got a lot of scoring chances on penalty kills. Not many guys can do that.”

Couturier will try not to be awestruck by his new right winger, but he admitted that there is a certain shock factor to how Jagr operates.

“When you’re on the bench you say ‘wow,’ but when you’re out there but when you’re out there you’ve got to be ready for those ‘wow’ plays,” said Couturier. “I just got to be ready and prepare to get some nice passes.”

Giroux and Jagr didn’t take long to form the chemistry that has aided both players to No. 1 and No. 3 respectively on the team in scoring.

“Sometimes, it takes forever. Sometimes, it’s five minutes,” said Jagr. “I feel like there’s a lot of skill in this dressing room. I would play we play a similar style, all the players, especially on the first three lines. I think everybody can play with everybody on the first three lines.”

For most of the season, Couturier hasn’t been in that top nine. Now he’s not only in that mix. He’s front and center.

Giroux Won’t Play Against Washington

12 Dec

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers are taking the cautious road with Claude Giroux. The NHL’s leading scorer was not on the ice at practice on Monday and will not go to Washington with the team. The Flyers will play the Capitals on Tuesday without without him.

“Claude is continuing to feel better,” said Paul Holmgren in a statement. “He will not travel with the team today and will be seen by our doctor again tomorrow.”

Giroux was scheduled to be evaluated on Monday, but Holmgren did not comment on that. The Flyers’ leading scorer has 16 goals and 23 assists. Heading into Monday night’s action, Giroux leads the league in points by three.

Giroux was at the team’s practice facility on Monday, but declined to speak with reporters. He left Saturday’s game with under two minutes to go in the second period. Danny Briere and Sean Couturier both filled in on his line with Couturier taking the bulk of the load. The Flyers practiced with Couturier in that spot on Monday as well.

“We had to move somebody up. Claude wasn’t on the ice,” said Peter Laviolette. “We finished the game that way the other night. We had moved Sean up there. He had generated two or three good scoring chances and we just had to get through practice today and we’ll figure out the lines and the lineup tomorrow. But just based on the way he finished the game the other night, we thought he did a good job so we put him there in practice.”

No Claude Giroux At Practice

12 Dec

VOORHEES, N.J. — It would have been a surprise if he was on the ice, but Claude Giroux wasn’t on Monday morning for team practice. As expected, the Flyers are holding him out after he was hit in the head on Saturday night by Wayne Simmonds’ right knee and left the game. General manager Paul Holmgren said that he didn’t have headaches after the game and that on Sunday he was feeling better.

Giroux, the NHL’s leading point scorer, will be re-evaluated on Monday for his head injury.

While everyone in the hockey world anxiously awaits the latest update, nothing at this point can be too concrete. Brayden Schenn is currently out with a mild concussion, but he felt fine shortly after his hit too. He also wasn’t on the ice on Monday.

“I know he got hit in the nose in the game in Phoenix just below his nose, continued to play in the game, felt fine on the way home,” recalled Holmgren recently. “I think we had an offday the next day, came in Monday he didn’t feel great. We kept him off the ice. We checked Tuesday, did an ImPACT test, passed that, went out for practice, felt pretty good halfway through practice and comes off after the end of practice and ‘I don’t feel great.’ So, we’ve got to shut him down. Those are the rules and that’s what we’re dealing with.”

The Flyers are expected to provide an update at some point on Monday.

Injuries Have Flyers Hoping For The Best…Again

12 Dec

Hits to the head are one of the scariest aspects of hockey these days. The collective gasp when the NHL’s scoring leader took a knee in the back of his head could be felt all over the league. Claude Giroux was able to skate off the ice under his own power and general manager Paul Holmgren said he didn’t even have headaches after the game. But unlike Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers aren’t out of the woods just yet.

“Claude felt better this morning,” said Holmgren on Sunday. “He will be evaluated again [Monday] morning.”

Sure, the news that Giroux feels better is a good sign. But it is in no way a definite reflection of his actual medical status. For proof we look no further than Friday when Holmgren revealed that Brayden Schenn, who felt good after playing Phoenix, had been diagnosed with a mild concussion.

“I know he got hit in the nose in the game in Phoenix just below his nose, continued to play in the game, felt fine on the way home,” recalled Holmgren. “I think we had an offday the next day, came in Monday he didn’t feel great. We kept him off the ice. We checked Tuesday, did an ImPACT test, passed that, went out for practice, felt pretty good halfway through practice and comes off after the end of practice and ‘I don’t feel great.’ So, we’ve got to shut him down. Those are the rules and that’s what we’re dealing with.”

Will the same thing happen with Giroux? Hopefully not, but it could.

The outlook is far more stable for Bryzgalov, whose lower-body injury is thought to be very minor. According to Holmgren, he is “doing much better. Should be ready to play on Tuesday.”

He came out of Saturday’s game in the third period after making 14 saves on 16 shots. He headed down the tunnel to the locker room, but returned only a couple minutes later, sitting at the edge of the bench with his helmet on. While he said that he felt as though he could have re-entered the game, Peter Laviolette said he didn’t put any thought into putting him back in.

“It was starting to bother me more and more during the game and we decided to be safe,” said Bryzgalov.

Even though the veteran netminder said that he re-injured “an old boo boo,” it still isn’t as worrisome as Giroux’s potential head injury.

The Flyers have lost 69 man games to injury for players who have suited up this year. That’s not including Ian Laperriere and Blair Betts who are both on long-term injured reserve or Brandon Manning or Andrew Rowe who were also on that list.

“No, you know what…it is a part of the game,” said Holmgren. “Pittsburgh played their game [Saturday night] without [Kris] Letang, without [Sidney] Crosby, without [Jordan] Staal. I mean, everybody goes through injury issues, we’re just through our share right now.”

Only the Flyers have had to deal with this more than most teams. And while they can skate faster, check harder, shoot more and take penalties less, injuries are a facet of the game where they have no control at all. So all they can do with Giroux is wait and hope.