Flyers

2018 Flyers training camp storyline: Sean Couturier's injured right knee

2018 Flyers training camp storyline: Sean Couturier's injured right knee

Each day leading up to Sept. 14, the official start of Flyers training camp, we'll dissect the biggest storylines facing the team ahead of the 2018-19 season.

When the news trickled down late last month that Sean Couturier returned to Philadelphia after suffering a knee injury at a charity event, there was a collective gasp of concern.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall quickly calmed the storm. Couturier would miss four weeks and he did not reinjure the torn MCL he played through in Game 6 against Pittsburgh.

But Couturier was going to miss some of training camp and preseason. There was good news Monday, before the Flyers’ prospects and rookies took the ice on Day 1 of rookie camp.

Couturier, 25, was on the ice at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, firing one-timers, which is an obvious positive sign that he will be ready for the Oct. 4 opener.

Hextall said Couturier remains on the same four-week timeline and that he will play in the tail end of the Flyers’ preseason schedule. Monday was his first day on the ice, Couturier said.

“They don’t want me to push it too much,” Couturier said. “But, naturally, you kind of do push it because it’s the way I feel, and I felt good. Hopefully, [Tuesday] it responds well.”

Couturier said he will likely be skating on his own for another week or two and then go from there. He’s wearing a knee brace, which he said he’s using during this time period to get used to it.

The Flyers do not have a policy against players participating in charity events during the offseason, which is how Couturier suffered the knee injury.

On Monday, Couturier offered some insight on the charity event he hurt his knee at, which he called a "high-level tournament."

"Basically all the guys from Quebec meet up and play games all weekend to see where we're at in our summer training," Couturier said. "To see where we're at and push each other.

"They raise money for charity doing that, so it's part of the training. You're cautious but at the same time, not just going to sit back on my couch all summer and show up to camp."

With Couturier on schedule to return by the end of the preseason slate, there isn't much cause for concern. That said, how his knee holds up is worth watching.

Factor in that Couturier is coming off a torn MCL and that he suffered a non-contact injury to the same knee a few months later, there is some reason to be concerned.

"With the years, you learn yourself, learn your body," Couturier said. "It's a freak accident that happened. We have time to rest it, recuperate it and heal it, so we'll take the time.

"It's not like in-season where you're kind of rushing back to help the team. Now we have the time that we need to heal it and we'll take it."

Couturier enters the 2018-19 season as the Flyers' No. 1 center for the second straight campaign. Except this time, there are no questions about his production.

Playing with Claude Giroux and either Jakub Voracek or Travis Konecny last season, Couturier posted career highs across the board: 31 goals, 45 assists and 76 points.

There is a possibility that Couturier and Giroux are broken up this season as the Flyers have a vacancy at third-line center and Hextall opened the door for Giroux to return to center.

During the early portion of preseason, we'll likely see Giroux play a bit of center with Couturier out. And if Giroux does move back to center, it's not like Couturier moves to the third line.

Couturier will continue to have a prominent role in 2018-19, either as the top-line center or second-line center. He also found success on the power play last season.

The best-case scenario for the Flyers would be reuniting the top line of Couturier, Giroux and Konecny (see story).

There is no reason to believe, though, that last season was an outlier for Couturier. He finally discovered his offensive game and now he's entering the prime of his career.

And the Flyers have him signed through 2021-22 at a $4.33 million cap hit. Health withstanding, that's a pretty damn good deal.

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Jeremy Roenick's #AtHomeAllStar video has surprise twist ending

Jeremy Roenick's #AtHomeAllStar video has surprise twist ending

The thing about athletes and former athletes is that they're stuck at home just like the rest of us. Only their homes are way bigger and half of them have putting greens in their backyards.

Former Flyer Jeremy Roenick shared a video where he runs a little sports obstacle course of sorts as part of a #AtHomeAllStar challenge. And he's definitely got a pretty sweet backyard.

Roenick shows of the requisite hockey skills but then dabbles in other sports. It's mildly entertaining and absolutely pointless.

The twist ending is perhaps the best part. I can relate to that part, at least.

I feel like there was a missed opportunity to do a cannonball into that pool though.

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Former Flyer Rick Tocchet knows NHL is in difficult spot with coronavirus outbreak

Former Flyer Rick Tocchet knows NHL is in difficult spot with coronavirus outbreak

With much of the sports world’s future unclear, the one thing that is crystal clear is that the situation caused by the coronavirus is something that nobody expected.

Former Flyer and current Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet feels this has all been a learning experience. 

“I didn’t think it would be that long, I thought maybe two or three weeks," Tocchet said in a video interview last Thursday with NBC Sports Philadelphia, "but then you see how serious it is.”

Tocchet as a player was as tough as they come. He did everything as a member of the Flyers' franchise and won three Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins (two as an assistant coach, one as a player). Tocchet, despite being a coach, has that player’s mentality, and the current league suspension has forced him to change his daily approach a bit.

“I’m a routine guy," he said. "When you take routine away from hockey players, you get a little stir crazy, so I try to have a routine every day.”

Part of Tocchet’s routine is checking in with his players and watching video on his computer, preparing for when and if the NHL season returns. But that won’t be an easy process for hockey, which is different as far as conditioning than the other major sports. 

“Guys need to skate, they need ice," Tocchet said.

“Guys aren’t skating, and to be able to just hop back in there, you have to give these guys a seven-to-10-day training camp.”

How the NHL season returns remains to be seen. Multiple scenarios of beginning with the playoffs have been hypothesized. Regardless of what happens, the likelihood of someone being unhappy is high. 

“I don’t know what’s fair or not," Tocchet said. "If they said teams that are in now get in, I think we’d have to swallow that, and you’re in.”

Tocchet’s Coyotes are currently four points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, so that would be an unfortunate break for the former Flyer who is looking to reach the playoffs for the first time in his third year as head coach in Arizona.

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