Derick Brassard has played in 117 career playoff games.
Six of them have come in Philadelphia. He has not forgotten the atmosphere.
During the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brassard and Alain Vigneault's Rangers squared off against the Flyers in the first round. New York eliminated the Flyers in seven games and went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, where it loss to the Kings. In the first-round series, the Rangers lost two of three games at the Wells Fargo Center but won three of four at Madison Square Garden, including the decisive Game 7.
It was the second postseason run of Brassard's career and his first taste of what the playoffs can be like in Philadelphia. Over seven years later, Brassard is hoping to see playoff hockey in Philadelphia again.
This time in a Flyers jersey, with the fans on his side.
"I was thinking about that last night and I actually remember my time with the Rangers, we played the Flyers in the playoffs and I remember there was like fights in the stands all over the rink there in Philly," Brassard said with a smile on Aug. 26, a day after the Flyers signed him to a one-year, $825,000 contract. "I like how passionate they are. I remember coming in and it's kind of hostile a bit, they'll be on your team. That's what kind of excites me, too. To come into a city, a city that's behind their Flyers and cheering really loud and everything. I think playing there is a special place and I'm looking forward as a player to play there."
A well-traveled veteran center, Brassard also faced the Flyers in Philadelphia during the 2018 playoffs when he was with Pittsburgh. The Penguins are one of five clubs he played for over the past three seasons, along with the Panthers, Avalanche, Islanders and Coyotes.
Brassard signed with the Flyers for various reasons. The familiarity with Vigneault helped make his decision. From a production standpoint, Brassard had his best years under Vigneault. He talked with the Flyers' head coach a few days before inking his deal.
"I think it was pretty clear in the conversation we had, me personally I wanted to join the Flyers and I think him as a coach wanted me to jump in with the group here," Brassard said. "I feel like with everything they've done this summer, adding like five or six players or so, it's going to give the team a good chance to succeed and have a really good regular season."
Brassard signed with the Flyers about a month after free agency opened. The Flyers felt they still needed more depth up front for an important start to an important, 82-game regular season. Brassard is not the same player from his Rangers days, but he'll provide the Flyers experience and positional flexibility.
"A.V. is comfortable with Derick at center, is comfortable with him on the wing," Chuck Fletcher said last month. "Obviously he's a guy that can win faceoffs, can move up and down your roster."
Having signed later, Brassard had noticed the win-now aggressiveness from Fletcher. The Flyers' GM acquired two of Brassard's former teammates this summer. Brassard played with Cam Atkinson in Columbus and Keith Yandle in New York. Kevin Hayes was also a teammate of his with the Rangers, while the Quebec native played against Claude Giroux back in their QMJHL days and comes from the same junior program as Sean Couturier (Drummondville).
Brassard said he had an offer from a Western Conference team for a little bit more money.
"But it's all about fit and to have a chance to win," he said. "I think the Flyers fit all the boxes for me. I'm super excited to be here. ... I talked to A.V. and it made me feel comfortable with what he was expecting from me.
"I'm turning 34 in September here. I'm just all in to have a good season and hopefully have a chance to win the Stanley Cup at the end of the day. I'm not saying we're going to win it, but I think we have a pretty good shot with the roster that we have right now."
And Flyers fans will be on board with Brassard if he brings back playoff hockey to Philadelphia.
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