Flyers

Jordan Weal talks nearly going to Vegas, 'politics' that kept him in AHL

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Jordan Weal talks nearly going to Vegas, 'politics' that kept him in AHL

VOORHEES, N.J. — It was just a week ago that Jordan Weal was faced with yet another nail-biting deadline.  

Only this time he was trying to move all of his stuff out of his Boston apartment before the lease expired. Weal believed he had prepared for everything until he encountered some bad wiring on the rental trailer he was preparing to tow for his trip back to Philadelphia — a problem that took some eight hours to repair, placing his commute in jeopardy.

“It was tense getting things moved out for sure,” said Weal, who found himself more relaxed skating with teammates this week in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Weal’s latest expedition just seemed to sum up what was the most nerve-racking, yet rewarding summer of his professional career leading up to a two-year extension worth $3.5 million. 

“Going into free agency, I had no idea what to expect," he said. "It was kind of a whirlwind with all of the stuff going on, especially with the Vegas stuff. That was changing everything. I was just sitting back and letting my agent do everything."

The “Vegas stuff” Weal is referring to was the expansion draft that took place 10 days prior to free agency. The Vegas Golden Knights had their sights set on Weal, along with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, as their Flyers selection. As humbled as Weal was to be wanted by the NHL’s newest franchise, he made it known through his agent, J.P. Barry, that he wanted to stay in Philadelphia. The Flyers and Weal reached an agreement just days before the start of free agency on July 1.

“I was really happy to get something done with the Flyers and come back here," Weal said. "It's a great organization, one of the best organizations in the league. Just a sense of comfortability, knowing everybody, coming back and building off what we had last year."

Weal proved his worth down the stretch run with eight goals and 12 points from Feb. 28 to the end of the season, primarily playing on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Wayne Simmonds.  

“They’ve been in the league so long, both of them,” Weal said of Filppula and Simmonds. “They’re just great players and I can’t say enough about those two. It was a pleasure to play with them. Hopefully, we can start the year again together.”

The fact that Weal had to wait until February to finally get his NHL shot was frustrating to him and mind-boggling to his former Phantoms assistant coach Riley Cote, who spoke about the situation with Broad Street Hockey.

“This guy outgrew the American Hockey League two years ago," Cote said. "Unfortunately, he was screwed with politics last year with the Flyers, and I don’t remember how many games he ended up playing.”

According to the BSH article, Cote didn’t elaborate on what those politics were and Weal couldn’t say for certain what kept him in the AHL perhaps longer than expected, but he had high praise for Cote.

“I’m not sure [about the politics], but Cotesy was an awesome coach and for whatever reason, he’s out of the organization now," Weal said. "Guys down in Allentown really loved him. He’s a player’s coach. He played the game for such a long time in such a hard way. He knew every style of play and every player’s personality and how to coach him. I heard he had some great things to say in that interview.”

If you’re wondering how Weal is wired, more so than his rental trailer, look no further than his parents — his father, Kelly, and his mother, Shelley — whom he calls the “yin and yang” in helping him navigate his NHL career. Dad is the watchdog-type while mom keeps Weal grounded.

“My dad gets a little wrapped in it, but my mom, she definitely keeps me down to earth,” Weal said. "She says, ‘All your buddies back home are sitting at an eight-hour desk job and you get to play hockey for three hours a day.'

"It’s pretty nice to do what we’re doing. You've just got to step back sometimes, and when things aren’t where you want to be or going the way you want, you have to remember you’re playing a game and you have to work hard to get what you want. [The politics] definitely popped into my head a couple of times, but you can’t get all consumed in it, and you’re not doing yourself any favors.”

And as Weal has found out, just getting from Point A to Point B is never as easy as it looks.

Radko Gudas facing suspension, offered in-person hearing for slash

Radko Gudas facing suspension, offered in-person hearing for slash

Here we go again.

Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas has been offered an in-person hearing by the NHL for his dangerous slash to the back of the head on Winnipeg's Mathieu Perreault in Thursday's loss. That date and time of the hearing is TBD.

Gudas was handed a game misconducted — the sixth of his career — and was tossed for his unnecessary slash. Was it dirty? Judge for yourself in the video above.

The NHL certainly seems to think it was intentional, however. An in-person hearing means Gudas is staring down a suspension — and a lengthy one, too — should the NHL discipline him. In-person hearings warrant a suspension of at least six games, as opposed to a suspension of five games or fewer that would be discussed in a phone call.

While the slash was certainly grounds for a suspension, Gudas' reputation is also working against him. The D-man is a repeat offender and was last for six games in Oct. 2016 for a late hit. 

In his absence, the Flyers figure to get Andrew MacDonald back from a lower-body injury within the next week or so. MacDonald injured his leg while blocking a shot Oct. 21 vs. Edmonton. The Flyers are 3-5-3 in his absence. Mark Alt, who is currently serving as the team's seventh defenseman, also figures to step in should MacDonald not be ready for Saturday's game vs. Calgary.

Still quiet outside top line as Flyers give one away to Jets

Still quiet outside top line as Flyers give one away to Jets

BOX SCORE

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Now that the Flyers have seemingly rediscovered their scoring touch, they must next find a way to win a game again.

Mark Scheifele provided the game-tying goal with 49 seconds remaining in regulation Thursday after the Flyers had led for nearly 57 minutes before finally losing to the Jets, 3-2, in a shootout (see observations).

The defeat marks the Flyers' first three-game losing streak of the season.

“It’s something that hurts," Jakub Voracek said. "We were up 2-1 with a minute left. That’s a game you have to control and find a way to win. I think in overtime we were better. We had a lot of scoring chances, but again, it hurts."

Scheifele’s goal came after the Jets had pulled goaltender Connor Hellebuyck for the extra attacker. The Jets' No. 1 center worked a nice play with forward Blake Wheeler, as he sneaked his way between four Flyers and snapped a shot over the shoulder of Brian Elliott (see highlights).

“We had some tired coverage, and part of that is we had a couple of forwards that were tired on that coverage play and we had five D that played a lot of minutes through Periods 2 and 3,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s still no excuse. We don’t want to give that goal up obviously, but we played a pretty good road game tonight.”

Voracek gave the Flyers their initial lead just 2:27 into the game when he jumped on Sean Couturier’s rebound shot and wristed it past Hellebuyck for the 1-0 advantage. Voracek’s fifth of the season snapped the Flyers' scoreless drought at 158 minutes and 36 seconds. Less than three minutes later, Couturier answered with a rebound goal of his own.

“We knew we were going to score today," Voracek said. "It’s kind of a relief that after two games we scored two quick ones. We couldn’t close it. Too bad for us."

“For sure, it helps mentally,” Couturier said of the goals. “At the same time, we were prepared tonight to come out and it was behind us our last two games. We worked on it Wednesday trying to be more in front of the net, more in front of the goalie. I think we did a better job, for sure.”

The problem with the Flyers' goal scoring is how it continues to be pumped out of the same well. The Flyers' top line has been counted on to score the team’s past five tallies with the last goal from someone not named Claude Giroux, Voracek or Couturier coming in a 5-4 loss to the Avalanche on Nov. 4. 

With the return of rookie Nolan Patrick, Hakstol switched up his second and third lines for a second straight game. Patrick was eased back into the Flyers' lineup and played just 7:32 after sitting out the previous nine games with suspected concussion-related symptoms, centering a line with Dale Weise and Wayne Simmonds.

“I thought his game was good,” Hakstol said. “He didn’t play on the power play, but he was limited in his minutes. I thought he was sharp. He was strong on the puck. For not being in the lineup and coming into a pretty heavy game, I thought he played a pretty good hockey game.”

The Flyers were also forced to play shorthanded with five defensemen after Radko Gudas was assessed a five-minute major for slashing Mathieu Perreault in the back of the head while he dropped to his knees on the ice (see video). Initially, referees Jon McIsaac and Gord Dwyer assessed matching minor penalties to Gudas and Perreault but reconvened shortly after the play was shown on the scoreboard and the crowd collectively gasped in horror over the hit.

Not long afterwards, Gudas was given the major/misconduct penalty and ejected from the game. 

“I’ll assume they didn’t look at video,” Hakstol said. “They have a process they go through. If they have something in question, they huddle up and they make their best judgement. I would absolutely assume they did not have video involved."

The Jets converted 3 of 4 shootout attempts with Scheifele, Patrick Laine and Bryan Little beating Elliott, who was superb once again, but it was Laine’s goal Elliott would like to have back.

“He does [that move] every time. I knew he was doing it and he still scored," Elliott said. "That’s on me. If you look at every tape he does, it’s every shootout. He does the same thing and he still put it in. I don’t know what happened. He hit my stick and it went in.” 

The Flyers picked up a point, but giving one back hurts even more. They’re now 2-4-3 in one-goal games, having dropped their last five by the slightest of margins.