Flyers

On the day he turned 56, Scott Gordon recalls one of the worst birthdays of his life

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Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

On the day he turned 56, Scott Gordon recalls one of the worst birthdays of his life

VOORHEES, N.J. — Scott Gordon was hoping he could leave the Skate Zone Wednesday with very little fanfare. 

The Flyers' interim head coach made it clear he wanted his 56th birthday to be just like any other day with no acknowledgement. Perhaps the emotional high of an eight-game winning streak is celebration enough for any coach. 

Then again, Gordon may be relieved that someone’s not celebrating at his expense.

Twenty-nine years ago, on his 27th birthday, Gordon was a rookie goaltender trying to make a name for himself on the 1989-90 Quebec Nordiques, ironically the last team to start seven different goaltenders in one season.

The beginning of his career started roughly as he allowed five goals in a home-and-home series against the Buffalo Sabres — both losses.   

After Gordon was peppered for 52 shots in a 3-2 loss against his hometown team the Boston Bruins, head coach Michel Bergeron had a sneaking suspicion that Gordon just might earn his first NHL victory two nights later in his fourth career start against the Washington Capitals.

“The assistant coach made mention to Bergeron that it’s my birthday — 'Guys play pretty good on their birthday. You may want to consider it,'" Gordon recalled.

Bergeron did, and it turned out to be a complete disaster as the Capitals scored six goals in the first period, and it could have been so much worse.

“There were seven breakaways and I stopped four of them. That’s pretty good, right?” Gordon said. “Bergeron is pretty fiery and comes in the locker room during intermission and says, ‘Scotty, you OK?’ I said, 'Yeah, I’m fine,' and then he says, ‘These f---ing guys are going to play for f---ing you tonight.’”

Well, that clearly didn’t happen and Gordon endured the punishment.

The Capitals proceeded to score six more over the final two periods with Dino Ciccarelli netting a hat trick plus one. The “visual images” of that 12-goal game at the old Cap Center in Landover, Maryland, are still ingrained in Gordon’s memory.

“That was like the first rink I ever played in that had the replays [on the scoreboard],” Gordon said. “So not only did I let in 12 goals, but I had to watch it a total of 36 times.”

It wasn’t until a week later that Gordon earned that elusive first career win against the Vancouver Canucks, but to this day, Gordon’s dreadful dozen are the most goals any goalie has allowed over the past 30 years. 

To this day, the Flyers' coach can smile about it and laugh it off, as he brought a ton of birthday cheer to an arena scattered with Capitals fans.

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Then and now: Reactions to Kevin Hayes as a Flyer

Then and now: Reactions to Kevin Hayes as a Flyer

Kevin Hayes. You know him, you love him (at least you should by now).

When the news came out that Hayes officially signed with the Flyers back in June 2019, the majority of fans weren't too happy. From comments of being overpaid, to a joke of a signing, to a waste of cap space, the list goes on.  

Well, thanks to the internet, we have receipts for those who felt this way. Have their opinions changed since? Probably.

And now folks, let’s take a look at that waste of cap space, shall we?

Hayes has worked well in Philadelphia so far. He fits the new system, came into semi-familiar territory, having played under Alain Vigneault during their time in New York and is exactly what the Flyers needed in terms of filling the void at center outside of Sean Couturier.

Before the season even started, the contract was instantly justified with the unknown return status of Nolan Patrick. Now, they're heading down the final stretch with still no indication of when a Patrick return could happen ... imagine how different things would look like without the new addition?

In his first season with the Flyers, Hayes leads the team in a handful of spots:

• Overtime goals (2)
• Shorthanded goals (4)
• Game-winning goals (5)

In addition to that, he’s second on the team in goals (19), just behind Travis Konecny (21). He’s also projected to score 26 in the season, which would be a new career high for the center — his previous best being 25. This would also be only the second season to score more than 20 goals.

And what’s a piece on Hayes if his skill on the penalty kill wasn’t mentioned? The Flyers are currently top 10 in the league, where this time last season through 61 games, they were 27th. There’s a new tone when Philly goes on a penalty kill and Hayes is a huge contribution to that.

He’s now become a fan favorite. Everyone wants to see No. 13 succeed in Philadelphia and just about all of the doubt has disappeared, on social media at least.

He’s the player Philadelphia didn’t know it needed until he was here.

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Flyers' Matt Niskanen receives punishment from NHL for big slash

Flyers' Matt Niskanen receives punishment from NHL for big slash

The Flyers won’t lose Matt Niskanen for any games during their playoff push.

The veteran defenseman did not receive a suspension from the NHL Department of Player Safety for taking a big whack on Gustav Nyquist during the Flyers’ 4-3 OT win Thursday night over the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Niskanen was fined $5,000, the maximum allowable under the CBA, for the slash, which occurred in the second period of a testy game. There was no whistle on the play.

With 21 games remaining, the Flyers entered Friday in third place of the Metropolitan Division and holding an 81.3 percent chance to make the postseason, according to Hockey-Reference.com.

The steady and reserved Niskanen has been huge to the team’s 2019-20 turnaround, helping bring out the best in Ivan Provorov on the Flyers’ top defensive pair.

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