Brayden Schenn opens up about being traded to Blues

Brayden Schenn opens up about being traded to Blues

ST. LOUIS — Brayden Schenn could read the writing on Ron Hextall’s wall — the one with the organizational depth chart on it.

“I probably talked with my agent a month before the draft, and there wasn’t even talk about me getting traded because I had no idea that this was going to happen," Schenn said after Thursday's morning skate. "I looked right around at St. Louis and saw that the Blues might need a centerman. It was one day we talked about it, and I never talked about it again until I got traded.”

Not long after the Flyers fortuitously leaped all the way into the number two slot at the NHL’s Draft Lottery is when Schenn realized he needed to start dissecting the trickle-down effect of Philadelphia landing a franchise center, knowing at that time the pick would either be Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick. 

“The No. 2 pick, you knew it was going to be another center, right?" Schenn said. "Leading up to the draft, there was a lot of talk about Montreal and that’s what I was kinda hearing. I was just on a golf trip with a bunch of buddies and I looked at my phone, it happened to be on ringer and it happened to be Ron Hextall, and right away I knew I was gone.

“I always felt I could go play center and that was a natural position for me. I think Philly knew I could play the wing, but they also knew I wanted to play center as well. It just kinda helped that St. Louis was the landing spot.”

Schenn was dealt to the Blues for Jori Lehtera and a pair of first-round picks, plus a conditional third rounder. As Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic wrote Thursday morning, the Blues had even reached out to the expansion Golden Knights about taking Lehtera and his $4.7 million contract off their hands, but even they had no interest in the 29-year-old Finn.

Hextall realized with Patrick there was an organizational logjam at the center position that ultimately led to not only the Schenn trade, but the decision to transition the captain and arguably their most skilled player Claude Giroux to left wing. Watching Giroux’s almost seamless transition here in Philadelphia is similar to Schenn’s changeover in St. Louis, where he has clicked almost instantaneously with linemates Jaden Schwartz and superstar Vladimir Tarasenko.

“I think it’s just maybe having the confidence that you’re going to stay at center here, I guess,” said Schenn. “I played maybe ten games at right wing (in Philly), ten games at center, 20 games at left wing. I was kinda all over the place.

“I came here Day 1 and he (coach Mike Yeo) said ‘Do you want to play center? We’ll give you a shot there.’ I think here, you get in a rhythm and get in a groove of playing down the middle and being in situations where you’re counted on to be liable in your own end, playing against good players.” 

When asked about Schenn, Tarasenko and Schwartz both referred to him as a “smart” player, which never seemed to be the label he was attached with here in Philadelphia. It’s not that Schenn is unintelligent, but possessing a high hockey IQ wasn’t one of his known attributes. Perhaps there’s a confidence boost that has accompanied him to St. Louis, as well as being more committed to the defensive side of the game. 

“Playing in the middle and taking faceoffs, I find it gets you more involved in the game right away. It’s on you to win the faceoff and get the puck right away and it gets you a little bit more involved in the game,” Schenn said.

The trade of Schenn also came roughly a year and a half after the Flyers dealt his older brother, Luke, to Los Angeles as part of a deal to shed Vinny Lecavalier’s hefty contract and a center that was no longer in their future plans. 

“I guess Schenns aren’t wanted in Philadelphia. I don’t know what it is,” Brayden said. “I think it was a little bit tougher situation with your brother being on the team with you. I just remember sitting in a car taking off for a road trip near the trade deadline, there were talks about L.A. and him going there, and I think it’s tougher when your brother’s not hopping on that flight with you. So for me, I was the only guy in Philly. It’s always tough leaving teammates and buddies, but that’s the business. I’m not the first guy ever to get traded and I won’t be the last.”

And with Luke now in Arizona, the flow of Schennergy is now amping up here in St. Louis.

Seguin nets OT winner for Stars

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Seguin nets OT winner for Stars

BOSTON — Tyler Seguin made a move at the left circle to get past one defender, then skated into the slot as the other two Bruins went to the ice.

He swooped wide to Anton Khudobin's glove side, inducing the goalie to leave his skates as well, and then flipped the puck into the net for the game-winner.

"I feel like everyone was just sliding at me, and the whole time I wanted to pass," Seguin said after his goal with a delayed penalty man-advantage gave the Dallas Stars a 3-2 victory over Boston on Monday.

"I was just kind of looking for the right play and just kept holding it," the former Bruins first-round draft pick said. "I just kind of shot it, and luckily, it went in."

Stephen Johns and Alexander Radulov also scored for Dallas, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 30 shots (see full recap).

Tavares' 2nd goal lifts Islanders past Canadiens in OT
MONTREAL — John Tavares scored his second goal of the game 1:51 into overtime to lift the New York Islanders to a 5-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.

Mathew Barzal, coming off his second five-point game of the season, had a goal and two assists to keep up his scoring binge for New York. Anthony Beauvillier and Adam Pelech also scored to help the Islanders win their third straight after a season-high five-game losing streak, and Thomas Greiss finished with a career-high 52 saves.

Nicolas Deslauriers, Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin and Max Pacioretty scored for Montreal, which twice tied the scored after falling behind by two goals. Carey Price stopped 19 shots.

Pelech gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead 2:37 into the second period as he pounced on a loose puck after Barzal's shot was blocked and swept it in fromt eh slot for his first of the season (see full recap).

MacKinnon helps Avs beat Ducks for 7th straight win
DENVER — The save by Jonathan Bernier that sticks out the most was the one where he simply stuck out his stick.

Out of sheer desperation, no less. To thwart what looked to be a sure goal, too. It's just another sign of how well things have been going for the Colorado Avalanche in recent weeks.

Nathan MacKinnon kept up his torrid home scoring with a goal, Bernier turned back 33 shots and the Avalanche beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 on Monday for their seventh straight win.

Matt Nieto and Colin Wilson also scored for the Avs, who are outscoring opponents 29-10 during their longest win streak since the 2005-06 season (see full recap).

Old wounds have healed for Eric Lindros

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Old wounds have healed for Eric Lindros

You could say the life of “88” has completed a lifelong figure 8, where you ultimately come back to the point where it all started.  

That starting point for Eric Lindros was sometime at an early age when life was simple, friendships were forming and the game of hockey wasn’t tugging him in a hundred different directions. Not that Lindros feels like a kid now, but clearly he views life rather buoyantly.

He smiles, he laughs, he tells stories and enjoys living essentially burden-free. 

“I’m seeing things from a different perspective,” said Lindros during my visit with him at his new home in the Toronto suburbs. “I think when you’re playing, and for good reason, you’re focused on your game. You live, eat, breathe the sport and the game. You have the blinders on. You might not be aware of what’s going on politically. You might not be aware of what’s going on with some of your friends back home.

“Now, I have no blinders. I’m not restricted. If I choose to look left or choose to look right, I can. It’s a different mindset. It’s a different way of going about it. It’s a whole new world.”

Lindros left Philadelphia unceremoniously sitting out an entire season before he was eventually traded to the New York Rangers in August 2001, and even after he stopped playing six years later, a lot of those old wounds still hadn’t healed and the relationship between himself and the organization was scarred. A once tight relationship with former Flyers GM Bobby Clarke was seemingly frayed beyond repair.

The 2012 Winter Classic alumni game at Citizens Bank Park was the first step in the rehabilitation between a stubbornly proud organization and its franchise center the city once cherished. Then came Lindros’ induction into the Flyers Wall of Fame in 2014, his 2016 induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame and now, the latest culmination is the retirement of his legendary No. 88 along with other events surrounding the former superstar. 

There’s now a renewed sense that Philadelphia will always be Lindros’ hockey home.  

“Listen, hockey was great for a long time and where I could give the most was in Philly. From start to finish, I never played as well anywhere else. I really enjoyed it. There’s ups and downs with everything that you do, but overall I truly enjoyed playing there,” Lindros said.

“Eric doesn’t have a home,” Clarke told me in 2011 prior to the Winter Classic alumni game. “Eric needs a home and the Flyers are his home.”
Of course, it’s not exactly a home surrounded by a white picket fence, but rather one that had a fence that needed to be mended. Retirement for Lindros and Clarke, who both coincidentally stepped down as player and executive in 2007, helped gain perspective and patch some damaged feelings. 

“We see each other at all these events and Bob’s been very nice," Lindros said. “We can joke around. What’s happened, happened. Let’s move forward and go on.”

Eric has done that while also discovering why the present should be cherished so much more than what has transpired in the past. Whenever Lindros spends time at alumni functions, he’s easily immersed in the aura surrounding Bernie Parent and how it can easily rub off on him. 
“What a fun-loving spirit. He gets it,” Lindros said of Parent. “You know where some people have that vibe and you want to be in the room with him. He’s got a gift. Bernie’s a terrific, terrific man. He’s got to get me out on the boat.” 

After Thursday's ceremony prior to the Flyers' game against Lindros' hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, Lindros and Parent can hang together all they want, at least, in the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center.

However, Lindros doesn’t need those types of reminders. Nowhere in his brand-new home will you find any connection between himself and his playing days — no photos on the wall, no replica of the Hart Trophy he won in 1995 and no sign of his Olympic gold medal. Nor does Lindros believe his career was any more distinguishable from that of his wife Kina Lamarche, who was a very successful businesswoman.  

As you enter the basement, there’s a painting of Jackie Robinson sliding into home plate. Turn the corner and down the hall you’ll find a newly-installed locker room and a synthetic ice surface that currently serves as a playroom for his three kids: Carl Pierre, Sophie and Ryan. This is Eric Lindros now, a man with a greater purpose in life.   

“Same way my dad was with me,” Lindros said. “My dad took a lot of heat for looking out for me and representing me and my brother. People would be lucky to have my dad as a representative. I’m very lucky to come from where I did. I got big shoes to fill. I’m around the house quite a bit now. I got lucky. I really did. I don’t think it could have worked out better.”