Flyers

Dear Flyers fans, this is certainly not the April we were expecting

Dear Flyers fans, this is certainly not the April we were expecting

Dear Flyers fans, 

Hi, me again — you might remember me from that bandwagon letter from what seems like forever ago. I’m back, but this time, this letter is for the fans that have been waiting years for a team like this. Trust me, so have I. 

The Stanley Cup Playoffs would have started Wednesday night, and like many following the All-Star break back in January — everyone started buzzing about the Flyers. They started winning games … games that would have been deemed a loss before they even started in the past — and doing so dominantly. They were winning against teams they needed to win against … and even tackled the pesky trap games. 

It wasn’t easy all of the time. Some nights the puck luck just wasn't on their side — but every single night became a battle. Every two points mattered. As they climbed the standings in the league and Metropolitan Division, this team was never content with where it was — always wanting to improve. Even following impressive outings, the leaders of the locker room wouldn’t focus on their successes, but rather what they still wanted to improve on for the next matchup. 

This was a fire in the Flyers that fans have not seen in years. I’ve used the term “cautious optimism” so much in the past — because that’s exactly what it was. In previous seasons, there would be sparks that gave a small sense of hope, only for that hope to be crushed some way or another. That never happened this year — well, that is, until play stopped. 

For the first time in a long time, it wasn’t keeping our fingers crossed to sneak into the playoffs. We were ready to watch Philadelphia make some noise and take down everyone in its track to the Final. They always say, “All you have to do is make the playoffs and then it’s anybody’s game.” 

This season, it wasn’t anybody’s game — it was the Flyers’ game. You might’ve called me crazy if this was being said back in October, but many now would agree. Things felt different

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t upset thinking about how the Wells Fargo Center would’ve been jam-packed with orange and black this week. 

Playoff T-shirts being used as rally towels. 

“Crosby sucks” chants so loud the walls would shake. (If they played the Penguins, of course.) 

Witnessing Carter Hart’s first playoff game in front of a home crowd. 

Seeing whatever chaos Gritty would’ve been doing. 

Walking into work and seeing fans that had been tailgating for hours before the Wells Fargo Center would even open the doors. 

Willingly spending $50 on concessions to help calm the nerves. 

That first goal and celly that would’ve ignited a run for the ages. 

Even the sticky floors walking to and from your seats during intermission. 

We’ve been waiting for it … but now we’ll just have to wait a little bit longer. 

The only positive — and probably the biggest one — is that this team wasn’t structured for one run and done. The years of drafting and building up the prospect pool, creating a strong locker room with veterans respected by all, bringing in a coach with years of playoff experience and trusting the process were all done for this reason. This is a deep team, every way you look at it, and it'll only get better in the next few seasons. 

So whenever hockey does return, whether it be late in the summer or the start of next season, get ready. My gut says they’ll be back stronger than ever before and won’t rest until the Stanley Cup has a route down Broad Street. 

Sincerely, 

A Flyers fan who was really looking forward to covering the first playoff series of her career, but will wait because the safety of others is most definitely more important right now.

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Flyers Talk podcast: Analyzing possible playoff matchups in NHL's 24-team format

Flyers Talk podcast: Analyzing possible playoff matchups in NHL's 24-team format

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall pick a playoff matchup for the orange and black.

From looking at the 24-team format to Michael Barkann's interview with Bernie Parent, let's dive in:

1:00 — Which playoff matchup would we prefer for the Flyers?

6:00 — Should we care about fairness in the 24-team bracket?

10:15 — Pick one of the two: season canceled or Penguins win the Cup?

13:30 — Parent has high praise for Carter Hart and the Flyers

16:25 — Why Hart is a great fit for Philadelphia

20:00 — Sharing our most painful hockey memory

25:30 — A taste of the "Marathon on Ice"

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NHL releases detailed protocol for Phase 2 in potential step toward resuming 2019-20 season

NHL releases detailed protocol for Phase 2 in potential step toward resuming 2019-20 season

The NHL on Monday released a protocol for a potential Phase 2 in its hope to eventually resume the season and award the Stanley Cup.

Phase 2 would see players being allowed to return to team practice facilities for voluntary small-group individualized training activities, whether it be on or off the ice.

The NHL is targeting a date in early June for an implementation of Phase 2, "however, it has not yet been determined when precisely Phase 2 will start or how long it may last," the league stated.

The 2019-20 season was suspended on March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak. The league is hoping to resume the season under a 24-team format, but specific details for such a scenario are to be determined.

As for Phase 2, here is a section from the NHL's memorandum:

We are continuing to monitor developments in each of the club’s markets, and may adjust the overall timing if appropriate, following discussion with all relevant parties.

As we have stated repeatedly, the health of the players and club personnel is our top priority, and that will dictate how Phase 2, and any progression thereafter, may evolve. We again emphasize that player participation in Phase 2 is strictly voluntary. In addition, clubs are not permitted to require players to return to the club’s home city so they can complete a quarantine requirement in time to participate in Phase 2.

Clubs whose local health authorities would allow for the reopening of club facilities will be required to consult with and seek approval from the league prior to any reopening of club facilities. In those jurisdictions which continue to restrict or prohibit such activity from occurring, and in order to address potential competitive concerns, the league will work with those clubs to facilitate alternative arrangements, if desired. Further, clubs are required to comply with the public health mandates and recommended best practices of the CDC and/or Public Health Agency of Canada (“Health Canada”) applicable to them and the facility in which Phase 2 activities are to take place, including any changes to such recommendations that may take place after the commencement of Phase 2.

Let's look at some of the key points from the league's memorandum, which you can read in full here.

Testing

Players and club personnel shall be administered laboratory-based RT-PCR tests 48 hours prior to anyone returning to their team's training facility. The testing "must be done in the context of excess testing capacity, so as to not deprive health care workers, vulnerable populations and symptomatic individuals from necessary diagnostic tests," the league stated.

To determine if this will be feasible in each club’s local market, clubs shall engage with your local health authorit(ies) (as well as any other applicable health authorities such as state, provincial or federal) to determine whether asymptomatic players and other club personnel are eligible under applicable regulations and local conditions to receive PCR tests, either publicly or privately, provided that doing so does not take testing resources away from publicly necessary testing.

If testing is not available at the start of Phase 2, players who wish to participate in Phase 2 activities and “Player Access” club personnel must self-quarantine for 14 days prior to entering the facility (or, certify that they have already served a self-quarantine for the prior 14 days in the club’s home market, in which event they will be eligible to enter the facility when Phase 2 begins).

Self-quarantine

Before being allowed access to club facilities, players and permitted personnel may be required to serve a 14-day self-quarantine period imposed by local health authorities, regardless of their mode of travel (private or charter travel).

Even if not imposed by the local health authorities, such individuals returning to the club’s home city by public transportation, including commercial air or rail travel, must serve a 14-day self-quarantine period post-travel before engaging in training activities at their club’s facility.

If players and personnel departed this week for their respective club's city, it would allow them access to the facility sometime in the second week of June, if the league has decided to implement Phase 2.

Permitted activities

Six players are permitted inside the facility per session, while coaches and hockey operations personnel will be allowed to observe "the player-only non-contact skates commencing on the later of the date on which the commencement of training camp is announced by the League or two weeks after the club’s commencement of Phase 2 activities," the league stated.

Skating will consist of non-contact sessions with appropriate social distancing.

When players are not participating in on-ice activities they will be permitted to utilize the club’s exercise and weight room equipment, or receive individual treatment from the club’s medical/training staff:

• Weight training that does not include the need for a spotter 
• Circuit-based activities such as resistance training
• Cardiovascular exercises and endurance training
• Rehabilitation and treatment for players with ongoing disabling injuries and for players with non-disabling injuries, may be provided as directed by club medical/training staff

What's next?

There is no firm date for Phase 2. But if the NHL implements it in early June, it could allow for eventual training camps in late June and a possible resumption of the season at some point in July.

That roadmap is in complete theory. The situation will continue to be a day-to-day process for the NHL. Things can change and there are still many obstacles but the detailed plan for Phase 2 is a potential step forward.

June is when the Stanley Cup is typically awarded and the month in which the NHL entry draft is normally held. The NHL will soon have decisions to make on the date of the currently-postponed draft. There could also be an announcement this week on the specifics of the 24-team format. Here's how it could look for the Flyers.

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