Flyers

Flyers prospect Philippe Myers heating up

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Zack Hill/Flyers

Flyers prospect Philippe Myers heating up

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — It’s been 13 months since Philippe Myers felt this good about his game. 

It’s been that long since he took a nasty hit from Luke Kunin behind the net in Canada’s quarterfinal matchup against the United States at the 2017 World Junior Championships. It was also at that tournament where TSN analyst Bob McKenzie tweeted Myers looked “NHL ready, or close to it.” Not long afterward, former NHL executive and current analyst Craig Button listed Myers as a top 10 prospect currently not playing in the NHL.

Incredibly high praise for the 6-foot-5 defenseman who wasn’t drafted as an 18-year-old while playing with Rouyn-Noranda in the QJMHL and eventually signed as a free agent with the Flyers in September 2015.

His first professional season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing, though. Like Samuel Morin, Myers has been dealing with a nagging groin injury that has forced him to miss 17 AHL games so far.    

“The first half of the season wasn’t the half that I wanted,” Myers said. “I was hurt for the first couple of games. I missed about half of them. Lately, my groin’s been strengthening up and I feel a lot stronger and more stable on the ice.

“I feel like I can move a lot better, and that’s huge. Skating is a big part of hockey. I’ve just been feeling myself, getting to the stuff that I was doing last year and regaining those good habits. I felt like myself on the ice a couple weeks ago for the first time this year. I felt comfortable moving. I wasn’t feeling any pain at all.”

Myers' feeling of immobility prevented him from being a complete all-around player, so his attention was squarely focused on positional play in the defensive zone and winning one-on-one battles that are essential to developing into an NHL-caliber defenseman. 

In 28 games with the Phantoms this season, Myers has contributed three goals and nine assists. This after a three-year junior career that saw him score 29 goals and record 63 assists for 92 points.

“I’ve been trying to chip in offensively when I can, but obviously we have a defensive-first mindset here,” Myers said. “Good offense starts with good defense. You got to take care of your own end before you can join in on the rush.

“You just got to seize the opportunity, and when the opportunity is there you just gotta go. And if it’s not there, you don’t go. Not trying to force things — that’s something I’ve had to work on throughout the year and I think I’ve done a pretty good job at it, and now I just got to keep at it and keep the little details going.”

Organizationally, the Flyers' philosophy with their defensemen is comparable to rings around a tree. The outside arc is solidifying the basics, and as their respective games adapt to the speed of the AHL, that circle shrinks and they can start working on the finer details. Impressively, despite his injuries, Myers is considered to be on the same track as Travis Sanheim was a year ago when his game started to take off with the Phantoms.   

“There’s a process where you take care of the big things first and with all of our D, it’s about the ice surface first,” Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon said. “It's about not complicating your life on the breakout and making that first early pass when it's there. Now it's about the positional play, it’s about the defending part of it, the abrasiveness at the net front. Good stick, the positioning of the stick. The little details come over time. You can’t have everything all at once. It’s just information overload.

“When you consider the last three to four weeks, Philippe has played some of his best hockey. But he’s done it in half the time because he’s missed half the amount of games and half the amount of practices. You wonder where he’d be right now if he didn’t have the nagging injuries.”

With Morin out for an extended amount of time, Myers now comprises the Phantoms' top pairing along with Sanheim, who was assigned to the Phantoms this week after playing 35 games and scoring one goal, with the Flyers. When you evaluate Morin, Myers and Sanheim, they’re three players with unique skill sets, but Myers appears to be more of a hybrid of the other two. Sanheim has the offensive flair while Morin's specialty is physicality.

“[Myers'] ability is to get up and down the ice and make plays, and use his shot and defend. He’s a sneaky, hard player.” Gordon said. “He’s got a little bit of Sam in him at times when players have to pay a price when they go near him. It’s maybe not as dramatic as Sam, but he does play with an edge and he has that offensive upside.”

In between playing three games over four days paired with Sanheim together and logging 22 to 25 minutes, Myers also enjoyed his 21st birthday this past week. Nothing too celebratory despite the significance. He simply looks back at this past year and realizes how much he’s endured and matured.

“I just think I grew as a person, and as a player, I feel like my confidence is coming back,” Myers said. “I’m happy with the way things are going now, and I’m going to keep building on that.”

Flyers, James van Riemsdyk release statements amid Philadelphia protests following George Floyd's death

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Flyers, James van Riemsdyk release statements amid Philadelphia protests following George Floyd's death

Updated: 5:50 p.m.

In late March, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher opened a conference call with an acknowledgement and a message of gratitude for those working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I just wanted to mention that before we started talking about the small piece of the world that I work in which is ice hockey," Fletcher said then.

Hockey didn't feel in the realm of importance to the world's current events at the time. Right now, it doesn't come close to the magnitude of the country's current events.

Fletcher and the Flyers respectfully postponed the general manager's scheduled media availability for Monday in light of what has transpired following the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd was killed in police custody after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the 46-year-old black man's neck.

Starting on Saturday, joining others across the United States, protests focused on racial injustice began in Philadelphia and continued through Monday.

The Flyers released the following statement Tuesday morning via their Twitter account:

We don't have the answers, but this much we know ...

We believe in racial equality without exception, and our hearts are broken.

For Philadelphia and the nation, we join the chorus calling for justice, the elimination of systemic racism, unity and peace.

James van Riemsdyk, the Flyers' NHLPA representative who lives in Minnesota and is from Middletown, New Jersey, shared a message on his Instagram account Tuesday night.

Below is the latest from the NHL:

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Flyers Talk podcast: Head of strength and conditioning Chris Osmond gives insight on team's adjustments

Flyers Talk podcast: Head of strength and conditioning Chris Osmond gives insight on team's adjustments

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall are joined by special guest Chris Osmond, the Flyers' head of strength and conditioning.

From Osmond's insight on the Flyers' fitness to our analysis on prospects/awards, let's dive in:

1:00 — Which defenseman will climb the fastest to the Flyers — Egor Zamula, Wyatte Wylie, Linus Hogberg or Wyatt Kalynuk?

7:05 — Osmond discusses the Flyers' daily questionnaire with players

9:40 — Ivan Provorov has a unique style of working out

11:45 — The big adjustments Osmond has had to make with players in quarantine

15:45 — What will be the toughest challenge for the Flyers leading up to a possible resumption?

• 17:25 — The importance of a good diet for Carter Hart and the team

• 19:00 — "None of us have been through this" 

20:10 — Osmond loves the Flyers' victory song

24:50 — Is Sean Couturier the Selke Trophy winner?

29:20 — Who is Alain Vigneault's biggest competition for the Jack Adams Award?

40:00 — Which former Flyer would we pick to be our favorite teammate?

• 45:15 — A taste of the "Marathon on Ice"

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers