Flyers

Chuck Fletcher, Matt Niskanen see a Flyers team ready to pop

Chuck Fletcher, Matt Niskanen see a Flyers team ready to pop

At first, Matt Niskanen was "a little surprised" and caught "a little off guard."

He had just been traded by the Capitals, a team with which he won the 2018 Stanley Cup and experienced fond memories, and was now headed to a division rival.

But after Niskanen spoke with Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher, his emotions slowly started to shift. Fletcher wanted Niskanen to believe in the Flyers' situation and how the accomplished defenseman could be integral to it taking off.

"He said he likes their team, he felt that they're ready to pop," Niskanen said Friday in a conference call after being dealt to the Flyers (see story). "He kind of feels the same way that I do about the group there — young talent, they're close, just need to add some more pieces along the way. 

"It sounds like he's trying to put together a real good team and we'll see where that takes us. But I'm excited to be there. Trying to be a real solid piece for what they have there already. They have a lot of talent, these guys can play and put up some goals, and maybe get our goals against down — so maybe that's where I come in, to help out with that. I'm excited for that challenge."

From the start, the Flyers fell well short of expectations in 2018-19, which put Fletcher in the team's GM chair. The 82 points were the Flyers' fewest in a full season since 2006-07 and the club hasn't made the playoffs in consecutive years since 2010-12, when it last won a series.

In this league, things can change quickly, though. 

"We're all close," Fletcher said on April 18.

The Flyers went 0-4-0 against the Capitals in 2018-19 and were outscored 18-9, but Niskanen remembered looking at one of his teammates during the regular-season series and saying, "Man, they should be doing better than they are."

Fletcher sees Niskanen as the type of player to change that narrative.

"This is a guy that has played over 1,000 games in the NHL when you factor in his playoff experience," Fletcher said Saturday on a conference call. "He's a guy that commands respect with how he plays and how he prepares, he shows up every day.

"I'll give Ron Hextall and Chris Pryor (former general manager and assistant general manager) a lot of credit here — we have some top-end young talent on that back end, and I think the goal right now is to try to surround them with the right people and add some talent back there, as well."

Niskanen didn't need a whole lot of convincing by Fletcher. The GM's message only helped build the excitement for the former Capital and Penguin who has played 38 career games against the Flyers.

"Over the last few years they've gotten younger. I like their team," Niskanen said. "They have dangerous people, they've added young players with a lot of promise, hard to play against.

"They have good people, dangerous players, talented forwards, a young group of D that can really play — they're just young, I think. They're on the upswing. It was hard to play against the Flyers. Good organization, they play the game hard, they play to win. A lot of promise there. I'm excited about that."

With the Capitals' first-round exit in the 2019 playoffs following their Cup run the previous season, Niskanen said he has been training for over a month now and feels much better physically. He knows about the Flyers' defense. He referred to the group as "young studs" multiple times (see story).

So, yeah, as tough as the trade is, Niskanen believes in Philly.

"I've been fortunate to be on real good teams," he said. "I've been around and I know what good hockey looks like, I know what a good culture looks like. I'm not going to be a rah-rah guy, but I think with my résumé, my words hold a little bit of weight, especially with young players. 

"They have a good team and I'm not going to come in and ruffle any feathers, but I think my word will hold some weight. I'll come in and try to have real good practice habits and have a good attitude, bring a good work ethic, and hopefully I'll be another piece to what they already have there."

And potentially make the Flyers pop.

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Sean Couturier reveals an interesting nickname and clowns Michael Raffl

Sean Couturier reveals an interesting nickname and clowns Michael Raffl

Sean Couturier has been in Philadelphia for nine years and there's a nickname that hasn't become public.

On Saturday night, the NHL tweeted out a video of Couturier to promote the NHL Gaming World Championship. This is where we learned of this interesting nugget.

Paul Bissonnette, the host of the video, alerts Couturier that he had some dirt on the nine-year veteran from Claude Giroux.

It's revealed that his teammates call Couturier "Elton John" because when going in for a breakaway, he sometimes looks like he's carrying a piano on his back.

That's one you can't live down.

Once the spotlight is taken off Couturier, he chose Michael Raffl as the biggest jokester on the team and started modifying some of his skills and attributes in NHL20.

For example, Couturier gives Raffl a high mark for speed, but pokes fun at his lack of physicality. The body checking attribute came down big time.

For the rest of Couturier's answers, watch the video here:

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Catching up on Carter Hart in live stream, teammates troll in the comments

Catching up on Carter Hart in live stream, teammates troll in the comments

With the season on hold, many of the Flyers have gone back to their hometowns for the time being, until they receive word about what the next step will be for the NHL.

That gave Carter Hart the chance to check in with NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes on Friday night during an Instagram live. There, they talked about a wide range of things, including hobbies, an ugly suit trip and Hart even had a few teammates crash the chat room.

There’s a lot of extra time on the players’ hands right now, so what has Hart been up to? Mostly playing guitar and a lot of NBA2K.

He plays both electric and acoustic guitar, but it’s still a work in progress.

“I just wanted to get into something a little different,” Hart said. “I thought guitar would be the easiest thing to try and pick up, but it’s pretty hard.” 

And with the mention of the NBA, of course Weekes had to check in and see who Hart had been rooting for leading up to the season on pause. Obviously, many in Canada cheer for the Raptors but now that he’s playing in Philadelphia? 

“Living in Philly now, I've got to cheer for the Sixers,” Hart said.

Smart answer from the 21-year-old. And he certainly nailed the dynamic of the fans that he loves playing in front of. 

“If we’re sucking, they’re going to let us know,” Hart joked. “But if we’re winning, they’re behind us.”

Then a conversation that originally stemmed from pizza turned into Hart breaking down a roast session about him from his teammates. Apparently, the team had an ugly suit trip when it was off to Columbus — something that we’ll definitely need to do more research on — but Hart has only a handful of suits on the regular rotation. 

“I only have three suits,” Hart said. “I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to wear this,’ and I show up to the plane and everyone was like, ‘That’s the suit you wear all of the time.’

“I was like, ‘Wow, what do you want from me? You guys hate it anyways.’” 

Of course, it’s all in good fun … at least we hope. 

And soon enough, his buddies crashed the chat. About 75 percent through the stream, Nolan Patrick joined the party and started to have some fun in the comment section.  It wasn’t long before the captain Claude Giroux tuned in as well, coaching the young goalie of how to get to his end point when talking in an interview. Always looking out for the kiddo. Former teammate Dale Weise even joined the chat party, so naturally him and Patrick were joking around. 



It’s safe to say these guys certainly miss seeing each other daily. Hopefully we’ll get more live streams in the near future. 

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