Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Dick Vermeil pays a visit

Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Dick Vermeil pays a visit

VOORHEES, N.J. — With a rare four days between games, the Flyers packed a lot into an hour-long practice on Tuesday morning.

They also had a special guest cap it off.

Dick Vermeil, an NFL head coach for 15 seasons, including seven with the Eagles (1976-82) and a Super Bowl ring with the Rams (1999), visited the Flyers thanks to an invitation from captain Claude Giroux. Vermeil, who turned 81 years old last week and looks like he could still coach, spoke to the team following practice.

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

Vermeil met with the Flyers after media availability, so it's unknown what wisdom he imparted on the group and staff. But a little motivational pick-me-up from such a figure must have served as a nice boost during an extended break from game action.

Vermeil, all smiles and never one to hide his emotions, left with a team-signed Giroux jersey.

As for practice, the Flyers worked on many areas, featuring 1-on-1 drills, 2-on-1, 5-on-none and special teams.

"It all depends on what the schedule is," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "You try to manage the schedule. The practice days are really valuable, no question, and we've made a real point to make sure we get as many practice days as we possibly can. If we're going to take something out of the mix, it's going to be the morning skate. So we've done that when possible to this point. Now we have a pretty busy stretch from here on until Christmas."

The Flyers practice again Wednesday before welcoming the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night (7 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia). The team is enjoying the mini break but also sees the value in staying fresh with practice.

"I think the guys feel better when we skate," forward Travis Konecny said. "It's going to be good for us to rest, as far as that goes, but at the same time, when we skate, we feel better."

A 'Gudy' sighting
Defenseman Radko Gudas, who has missed the Flyers' past two games because of an upper-body injury, fully took part in practice and did not seem limited.

But that doesn't mean he has been cleared for Thursday's game. Gudas said he still must meet with team doctors before a decision is made regarding his return to the lineup.

"There's nothing really I can say at this point right now," Gudas said. "Trying to get back into it.

"I hate watching hockey, especially when my team is playing. That's the toughest for me every time, I want to go out and jump in there. Anything I can do to make it faster, I'm trying to do as much as I can."

The Flyers' defense has been snakebitten with injuries to Gudas, Andrew MacDonald (injured reserve, lower body) and Shayne Gostisbehere (missed three games, upper body). Gudas has been out since last Wednesday, when he took an inadvertent hit from Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad.

No worries here
Early in practice, Konecny was seen hobbling and hunched over in pain as drills continued. He slowly but surely rejoined the action and finished practice, even sharing a laugh with assistant coach Ian Laperriere as he got back in line.

"Puck off the foot," Konecny said afterward. "I'm fine."

Still no Patrick
Rookie center Nolan Patrick did not partake in practice but skated beforehand. Patrick has not played since Oct. 24 and is on injured reserve with an upper-body ailment.

Lines, pairings and goalies
Here were the Flyers' groupings in practice, with the goalies in no particular order.

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Jori Lehtera-Dale Weise
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl-Matt Read

Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere 
Travis Sanheim-Mark Alt-Radko Gudas

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Flyers re-sign restricted free agent Anthony Stolarz

Flyers re-sign restricted free agent Anthony Stolarz

General manager Ron Hextall is nearly finished wrapping up contracts for his restricted free agents.

And his goalie picture is now clear for 2018-19.

The Flyers on Wednesday re-signed netminder Anthony Stolarz to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is worth $761,250, according to a report by hockey writer John Hoven.

With Stolarz back, defenseman Robert Hagg remains the Flyers' lone restricted free agent.

Stolarz, a 2012 second-round pick, underwent a nightmarish 2017-18 season just a year after he made his NHL debut and performed well in seven games with the Flyers. The 24-year-old tore the meniscus in his left knee during early September, the same injury he suffered at the end of 2016-17 with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

He played in just one AHL game and three ECHL contests as a result. In 2016-17, he made his way to the big club and put up a 2.07 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in a small sample. Then the injury occurred with the Phantoms and it's been an uphill battle ever since for the 6-foot-6, 210-pounder.

Stolarz will have his work cut out for him — if he hasn't already — as playing time will be earned at Lehigh Valley with Alex Lyon back in the fold and Carter Hart joining them.

"It's just competition. No one is going to go in there and hand you a job, so you have to earn it,” Stolarz said in June after an on-ice workout at Flyers Skate Zone. "I think the thing for me is to prove I'm healthy. I don't think I've skated since the end of January. I had the one flare up before one of my games and it had nothing to do with my knee injury. It was a separate injury. I think the biggest thing is proving I'm healthy and going out there and working to prove I'm still a high-caliber goalie."

The Flyers' goaltending tandem is set with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, both of whom are in the final year of their contracts. Things obviously can change this offseason, as Neuvirth and Stolarz seemed like realistic trade candidates.

But as of now, it's Elliott and Neuvirth with the younger trio pushing and competing.

"I'd rather have too many goalies than too few," Hextall said earlier this month. "If something makes sense and we can make something happen, we'd at least look at it. We saw it last year. All of a sudden, a couple goalies go down and you're scrambling for goalies. If we start with five, we start with five. Not a perfect situation, but again, I'd rather start with five than with three."

More on the Flyers' goalies

• Following 'gloomy' time, what's next for Elliott?

• Why Neuvirth's NHL career hinges on this offseason

• Hart says so long to Twitter, hello to pro life

• No arbitration needed for Flyers and Lyon

• Sandstrom hungry to prove he's not the 'other' goalie

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery died Sunday morning. First responders pulled his body out of Hamilton Harbour, where he had been swimming with friends. An investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing. 

Emery was 35.

According to local authorities, Emery was checking out a friend’s boat docked at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club when the group he was with decided to jump in the water around 6:30 a.m. Emery’s body never surfaced and was eventually recovered around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Hamilton police say Emery’s body was recovered in close proximity to where he was last seen.

Emery was last seen publicly with a handful of his former teammates Saturday night as the goaltender participated in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game in Hamilton. Emery can be seen standing during the playing of “O Canada.”

"The Philadelphia Flyers are stunned and extremely saddened to hear of the tragic passing of former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery," president Paul Holmgren said in a statement from the team. "Ray was an outstanding teammate and an extremely gifted goaltender. He had exceptional athleticism, was a fierce competitor and battled in every game he played with the Flyers.

"His performances through the 2009-10 season were a very big part of the team's success in making the playoffs and reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Ray's talent, work ethic and determination helped him enjoy a successful 11-year NHL career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

Several of Emery’s former teammates over the years offered their condolences via Twitter after learning of the tragedy.

Former Flyer Daniel Carcillo shared the he was crushed by the news (NSFW).

Jakub Voracek also shared his condolences (NSFW).

Emery joined the Flyers in June 2009 on a one-year contract, shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in his Flyers debut. The goaltender’s first stint in Philadelphia was cut short when he suffered a muscle tear in his abdomen in December missing the remainder of the season. Emery was later diagnosed with avascular necrosis — a degenerative condition to the bone tissue in his hip.

After undergoing successful surgery, Emery eventually joined the Ducks before winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. Impressively, Emery finished the regular season with a 17-1-0 record. He re-signed with the Flyers that summer as a backup to Steve Mason.

Emery’s most infamous moment in Philadelphia came during an ugly 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on November 1, 2013, as the Flyers netminder pummeled Caps goalie Braden Holtby during a line brawl in the early stages of the third period.

Emery faced criminal charges over a handful of off-the-ice incidents and altercations. Most recently, he was arrested for assault with a weapon in 2017 against former fiancé Keshia Chanté. 

Emery played a total of 287 NHL games, 88 with the Flyers.