Tag Archives: Paul Holmgren

Flyers Not Concerned With Outspoken Bryzgalov

1 Jan

CITIZENS BANK PARK — Things were certainly different in Phoenix. There weren’t as many cameras and there was definitely no Winter Classic. So when Ilya Bryzgalov came east to one of the biggest hockey markets in the league, the Flyers knew they weren’t exactly getting the same goalie that played in Phoenix.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean they were expecting for him to announce, in dramatic fashion, that he had been benched for the Winter Classic, or say that he was “lost in the woods” in his first month as the Flyers’ starting goalie.

Through the first three months of the season, Bryzgalov posts a 14-8-3 record with a 3.01 goals-against average and .890 save percentage. His career average is a 2.57 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

“When Bryz gets in the net … he’s gotta earn it back,” said Scott Hartnell. “I don’t think it’s a No. 1, No. 2 thing. It could be 1A and 1B. But not he’s gotta realize he’s gotta get his job back.

“Obviously, Ilya is a tremendous goalie, but I think he’s had some bad luck the last couple of games and even though it’s the Winter Classic and the big game, it’s still two points in the standings. We want to get it, and if Bob’s our best chance right now for us to get the points, then we gotta go with him.”

There is certainly a case to be made that the Flyers’ expensive shiny new toy, one that cost $51 million across nine years, didn’t know what he was getting himself into. Some say he’s more interested in being an off-ice personality than a Vezina Trophy candidate.

“People doesn’t care how I feel, right? They wants the show, they wants the entertainment,” said Bryzgalov. “You remember the Rome, right? Antique Rome? Roman Empire. What they want? Gladiators and bread. That’s all they want. The crowds doesn’t change: They still the same. It’s going to be past 300 years ago again in the future. It’s going to be the same. It’s all the crowd needs.”

While he’s certainly put on a show, as evidenced by HBO’s “24/7,” the Flyers would probably rather he focus more on his play. The past few days in practice, he’s worked a little bit extra with goalie coach Jeff Reese. That’s who told Bryzgalov he would be taking in the Winter Classic from the bench and the goalie then relayed the message to the media, much to the chagrin of Peter Laviolette.

Still, those in charge say they aren’t worried about the mental status of Bryzgalov.

“It’s good that Ilya’s had a couple of days here to do a couple of extra things with Jeff, talk through some things, I think he’ll be better because of it,” said general manager Paul Holmgren. “Am I worried about it? No. He’s seen Dr. Reese the last couple days.

“If Sergei [Bobrovsky]’s playing tomorrow, it can’t be a bad thing. He deserves to play. He’s played well. If Ilya was playing tomorrow, I’d think Ilya would have a good game too. I’m not concerned about who’s playing.”

“I’m not worried about Bryz,” said Danny Briere. “Bryz is a good goalie. He’s going to bounce back. He’s had some bad luck lately, but we all know he’s a good goalie. We’re going to need him down the stretch. We’re going to need him in the playoffs. I’m not worried at all.”

Laviolette, on the other hand, wasn’t willing to diagnose Bryzgalov’s mental status.

“You know, I’m not sure how to answer that question,” said the coach. “You can probably ask him that. I’m not sure. I think that’s more of a personal question, are you struggling. I can’t speak for him.”

The potential problem for the Flyers is when he speaks for himself.

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Pronger Concussion Stemmed From High Stick

16 Dec

VOORHEES, N.J. — At the time, the fear was blindness. Chris Pronger took the stick of Toronto’s Mikhail Grabovski to his right eye and went down screaming. After sitting out six games, Pronger played another five. Little did the Flyers know, they say, the captain had a concussion during that time. Now the fear is his his overall health.

“I think that’s probably the initial thing that started this whole process,” said general manager Paul Holmgren. “Going through the timeline with him [Thursday] and what happened since that injury, he came back, practiced with the team prior to going to Florida and playing that game in Tampa. He felt like he was just out of shape when in fact he was still having some symptoms, which continued. He continued to play games and then it just came about in Winnipeg where it’s a smaller building where it’s really loud. It’s really a neat atmosphere there, but he just couldn’t deal with it.

“He couldn’t deal with the lights. He couldn’t deal with the noise and he just felt awful. From that point on, the process that we went through with the ImPACT test prior to our next game against Carolina at home, he’s continued to have these symptoms that are not feeling like himself, he has that headache, he’s nauseous. That’s where we’re at.”

Now, after honoring the recommendation of two neurologists in Pittsburgh, the Flyers have shut Pronger down for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs. But there is still fear that it could cost him more than the next six months. Although the doctors didn’t say that Pronger’s severe post-concussion syndrome is career threatening, that remains a possibility.

“I guess you’d have to say yeah,” said Holmgren. “Chris is 37-years-old. I’m a glass is half full kinda guy and I hope for the best all the time. We’ll see how it goes.”

The symptoms that Holmgren listed are mostly in-line with that of Ian Laperriere a couple years ago when he was hit in the eye with a puck. His career appears to be over as after this season his contract will expire and he will have sat out two full NHL seasons.

“Certainly the light part is something,” said Holmgren about the similarities, “but I don’t know that he and Ian compared about the noise. Ian didn’t feel like Chris feels right now. Chris has had a fairly persistent heartache for quite awhile.”

Pronger toughed it out and was allowed to play through the headache until he couldn’t take it anymore after the Winnipeg game. That night, he had a team-high 26:41 of ice time and two assists. But, he was also on the ice for four opposing goals, a minus-2 for the evening.

Since then, the concern isn’t so much about Pronger’s struggles on the ice, but his health off the ice and his general well-being, hockey career aside.

Holmgren has no plans to replace Pronger as captain, noting the veteran leadership he has with Kimmo Timonen, Danny Briere and Jaromir Jagr.

“They’re good role models for our young players,” said the general manager. “In that regard, that’s probably the way I’m leaning right now.”

He also noted that the Flyers don’t have any immediate plans to make a trade. He said he definitely doesn’t anticipate anything happening before midnight Friday night, when the NHL’s holiday roster freeze takes effect until Dec. 27. But he did leave the door open to a move before the trade deadline on Feb. 27.

“Obviously if we have the chance to improve our hockey team both now and for the future, we’re probably looking at a lot of different things,” said Holmgren, “but I don’t think I made 29 phone calls since today or yesterday when I got this news.”

So far, the Flyers haven’t had any trouble surviving without their captain. They’re in the midst of a seven-game winning streak and sit atop the Eastern Conference. But there is still a lingering fear about Pronger and his future, both on and off the ice.

Giroux Felt “Sluggish” After Skating Tuesday

13 Dec

WASHINGTON — As much as it hurts, as much as they need him, the Flyers have to hit the pause button with Claude Giroux. Especially with the inconsistency in how he has felt over the past few days, the Flyers have tagged him with the “indefinite” tag and will wait it out.

“Claude, over the last few days his symptoms have gradually gotten worse,” said Paul Holmgren. “He skated today and didn’t feel that good. He didn’t feel like himself. I don’t know that there’s any good news in this other than that after 15 minutes or so once he stopped skating he did start to feel a little bit better.”

Chris Pronger is heading to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to meet with a pair of specialists, but Giroux will stick to the team doctors according to Holmgren.

“Chris’ is a little bit different issue than Claude’s,” explained Holmgren. “We’re just gonna stick to our own team with Claude.”

Giroux had played in 213 consecutive games before missing Tuesday night’s contest in Washington. The ironman streak may be broken, but there are bigger issues here. When Wayne Simmonds’ knee made contact with the back of Giroux’s head everyone feared the worst with how bad it looked. Those fears have been realized despite the innocent nature of the collision.

“You never know,” said Holmgren. “That’s the funny thing about concussion injuries. You see a guy get hit really hard and nothing happens. Then you see an innocent looking play and — he didn’t really have concussion symptoms right away. It was more whiplash symptoms.

“He had a lot more discomfort in his neck that in his head. As the last few days have transpired, it’s become more and more where he doesn’t feel like himself. He’s sluggish, so that’s the reason we’re doing what we’re doing today with him.”

Giroux won’t skate on Wednesday and the team will re-evaluate him on Thursday when the rest of the Flyers are in Montreal taking on the Canadiens. Holmgren said Giroux passed a baseline test on Monday and the results were “not bad,” but did not take one on Tuesday.

Frustration has clearly set in for the NHL’s leading goal scorer, especially when he can’t even be around the team for much of the month where games will be played on the road.

“I texted him this morning to see how he was feeling and he replied a little worse than yesterday,” said Scott Hartnell. “Kinda peaks and valleys with that. It starts to get in your head how you feel with that kinda stuff. Hopefully you can distinguish between a good day and a bad day and have a bunch of good days in a row.”

Unfortunately, despite how awful the concussions can turn out to be, there is no scientific answer of how to recover properly.

“So much of it comes down to how the player feels,” said Holmgren, “and sometimes Claude feels good and sometimes he doesn’t. Once he gets feeling good all the time, he’ll be fine. We’re hoping that won’t be long.”

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.

Ilya Bryzgalov Says He Is A “Bad Liar”

10 Dec

WELLS FARGO CENTER — With seven minutes to go in the third period, Ilya Bryzgalov left the ice and Sergei Bobrovsky relieved him. He was briefly in the tunnel, speaking with a trainer and reemerged on the bench with his mask resting on top of his head.

“It’s an equipment issue,” said the goalie after the game.

Are you sure about that?

“Yeah it was…no, I’m a bad liar.”

Sure, the one-liner is funny, but a potential injury is not.

“It’s an old boo boo, that’s it,” said Bryzgalov. “It starts for a little bit.”

He said he was able to go back in the game, but Peter Laviolette said there was no thought to putting him back in. General manager Paul Holmgren said that he expects Bryzgalov to be available for the next game and the goalie did him one better and said he’s not day-to-day, but rather “hour-to-hour probably.”

Bryzgalov was seen rubbing his right thigh in the tunnel, but wouldn’t confirm the injury.

“It was an injury issue, lower-body,” said Holmgren. “After the second period he wanted to continue and it stiffened up on him during the third.”

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

The goalie didn’t appear to be limping and was joking around with his five-year-old son Vladdy in the locker room after the game. The Flyers are bracing for the worst with Claude Giroux’s head injury, but they seem to have dodged a bullet with Bryzgalov.

Brayden Schenn’s Latest Injury Is A Concussion

9 Dec

VOORHEES, N.J. — But wait, there’s more. It’s not just Chris Pronger, it’s Brayden Schenn too. The Flyers announced on Friday that the 20-year-old has a mild concussion and, according to general manager Paul Holmgren, Schenn won’t play this weekend.

He has missed the last two games with what the Flyers reported as an upper-body injury. It turns out that he got hit in the nose in the third period against the Phoenix Coyotes and got his bell rung hard enough for what he says is his first career concussion.

“[He] continued to play in the game, felt fine on the way home,” said Holmgren. “I think we had an off-day 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.”

Schenn thinks it may have been Raffi Torres who hit him and kept him out of the lineup most recently. But he’s not concerned with retribution; he just wants to be healthy.

“It just seems to be one thing after another right now, but for me I’m just gonna keep positive and hopefully it will turn around eventually,” said Schenn. “It’s definitely never fun sitting out, watching the team. The good thing is that they’re winning hockey games and they’re playing good hockey right now.”

The Flyers claim that the concussion is a mild one, so there is no need for Schenn to travel with Pronger to Pittsburgh next Wednesday to see two concussion specialists. He hopes to return to the ice as soon as Monday to begin skating.

“Hopefully it gets better day-by-day and I guess you don’t want to rush it,” said Schenn. “There’s still a lot of hockey left and obviously for me I’m real anxious to finally get out there and get back and start playing. At the same time, you don’t want to push it too quick.”

Schenn says that to his knowledge he hasn’t had a concussion in his career. It makes it even scarier that the symptoms didn’t show up immediately for him.

“I was planning on playing in Buffalo,” said Schenn. “I’d play through anything, but for the reason of the symptoms, you don’t want to play through that because anything could happen.”

In his last two games, against Anaheim and Phoenix, Schenn was knocking on the door numerous times and came dangerously close to getting his first NHL goal, but now, thanks to a hit, the picture looks grim.

“You just want to be careful and cautious with the headshots and concussions that are around the league right now,” said Schenn. “Just be cautious while you can and make sure it goes away.”

Ironically, the Flyers had a team meeting on Friday with league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. He went over things like headshots, and big hits to eliminate concussions.

“To get clarification from him,” said Schenn, “standing in front of you for a half hour, that’s good for everyone.”

Sabres, Flyers Renew Rivalry With New Faces

2 Nov

VOORHEES, N.J. — Teams always come out with a little extra jump against the team that ousted them from the playoffs. The Flyers did so in their opener against Boston and the Buffalo Sabres will have similar motivation Wednesday night in New York, even though both teams have quite a few new faces.

The Sabres have brought in former Flyer Ville Leino as well as Robyn Regehr and Christian Erhoff. Leino has only one goal and one assist on the early season and was recently on the fourth line, although reports suggest he will play with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pomminville on Wednesday.

However, the main attraction remains Ryan Miller. His .930 save percentage is eighth in the NHL, but the Flyers know first hand what he’s capable of.

“Their goaltender is a good goaltender and they have a lot of skilled players who can make plays,” said Peter Laviolette. “I always think going into Buffalo is a challenge in itself. But we’re excited; we have to build off what we just did.”

The Flyers will be without Matt Read and Danny Briere on Wednesday, although Briere is possible for Thursday against New Jersey, according to general manager Paul Holmgren. That opens the door not only for call-ups like Harry Zolnierczyk, but also role players who will get a bigger opportunity.

Newcomer Max Talbot is all too used to that. During his time in Pittsburgh, his Penguins found a way to be successful without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

“I think it’s part of the depth of the organization,” said Talbot. “It’s when guys are called up to play different roles, first of all. Guys step up in the lineup and the guys that are being called up need to step up as well.

“It’s to believe in the system, to believe in the team and just do the little things and everything’s gonna be fine.”

Sean Couturier has been mostly been in a defensive role, but he is likely to center the second line, as he did in practice on Tuesday when he found himself between James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek.

“I think we’ve seen bits and pieces of what he can do offensively, but whether he’s with different type of players in different situations on the ice — we know it’s there,” said Holmgren. “He hasn’t been utilized in that role, so this will be a good opportunity to see what he can do at that end.

“At the same time, he’s got to be responsible defensively.”

The Flyers have played one more game than Buffalo this season, but they have similar records. The Flyers are 6-4-1 while the Sabres are 6-4-0. The team’s split the season series last year, but the Flyers took the best-of-seven series to the limit in the playoffs and won.

The Sabres will be trying to rid themselves of that bitter taste, at least those that were around last season. With how many new faces are on both teams, this is a new kind of rivalry.