Flyers

Flyers reportedly may take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky this summer

Flyers reportedly may take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky this summer

From eating delicious postgame meals in Buffalo to rumors circulating in the hockey world, the old-school Flyers are back … well, kind of. Gritty is still of the new school.

With the team's goaltending situation a hot mess, it didn't take long for the Flyers to enter the rumor business again post-Ron Hextall. In fact, Chuck Fletcher was named GM just six days ago.

This one is juicy for several reasons. It makes sense, would elevate the Flyers into the next tier and would right a wrong. From Sportsnet's Chris Johnston, who we recall broke the Braydon Coburn trade in 2015 at 1:48 a.m.:

The answer to the longest-running riddle in hockey may come from an unexpected place: As the Philadelphia Flyers ruminate on how to shore up their goaltending — at least until prospect Carter Hart is ready to take the wheel — there are whispers they will take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky on July 1.

Whoa. Let's dissect this one.

We all know about Bobrovsky, the one that got away, or better worded, the prime example of what was wrong with the old-school Flyers — a lack of patience and knowledge of how to develop goaltending. Many say the Flyers never should have traded Bob, which is wrong. They had to trade Bobrovsky because they had already closed that door when they panicked and signed Ilya Bryzgalov in the summer of 2011. They never should have signed Bryzgalov. They should have signed a veteran stopgap and been patient with Bobrovsky.

Sound familiar? Of course it does, because Flyers goaltending is a vicious cycle of mediocrity. It's a similar situation now as the Flyers have a legitimate goalie prospect in Carter Hart receiving AHL seasoning. To Hextall's credit, he understood how to handle developing goaltending; he just completely bungled the bridge to Hart.

The Flyers' goaltending situation this season is a disaster and one of the major downfalls of the Hextall era. The Flyers have used five goalies this season, and it's just Dec. 9. It wasn't like this wasn't totally predictable. Brian Elliott was coming off major core muscle surgery and Michal Neuvirth had an injury record longer than a high school U.S. history textbook. It was a bad bet that Elliott and Neuvirth could get you to Hart.

An injury to Alex Lyon during the preseason was the real curveball. But betting on Lyon being the backup would have been a high-risk bet. Hextall should have addressed the goaltending situation in some way. He didn't, and now Fletcher is the GM.

Neither Elliott and Neuvirth have contracts after this season, and it's almost a sure bet that neither will be back next season. Elliott hasn't necessarily been bad here, but health issues are catching up. The Flyers need a better option until Hart is ready to take over.

Which brings us to Bobrovsky, who has the second-best save percentage (.921) among NHL goaltenders since the Flyers traded him to Columbus in 2012 and has won the Vezina Trophy twice.

Bobrovsky's time in Columbus appears to be coming to an end. He's a free agent on July 1 and all signs point to him testing free agency.

According to The Athletic's Aaron Porzline in a story published Aug. 22, Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets had not "actively negotiated for some time now." As Portzline pointed out, it's assumed Bobrovsky wants to be the highest-paid goalie in the NHL.

This is where it gets a little murky for the Flyers. Carey Price is the league's highest-paid goalie after signing an eight-year, $84 million contract on July 2, 2017. Bobrovsky's résumé warrants him to be in that conversation.

Postseason struggles aside, Bob has been one of the best goalies in the league since 2012. But the playoff performances are part of Bob's story, and they're not pretty. Bobrovsky has struggled in the first third of this season, but his track record is strong enough to overlook it.

Bobrovsky is going to be paid big this summer, and the Flyers have cap space and the drive to spend. Bringing Bobrovsky back would instantly solve this problem; it's just about the term.

The Flyers have learned firsthand not to go term on a goalie. But dishing out big bucks on, say, a five-year contract? It solves the problem now and doesn't block Hart either.

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Old acquaintances, new acquaintances and Flyers flavor as Alain Vigneault gets head start

Old acquaintances, new acquaintances and Flyers flavor as Alain Vigneault gets head start

These are chaotic times for Alain Vigneault.

Exciting, of course, but chaotic — much different than last April and throughout the 2018-19 season when he was without a job.

"After a year off and figuring out I'll never be the golfer that I thought I would be, it's time for me to get back to work," he said Thursday with a smile.

Back into the workforce in full force.

Not only does Vigneault have a new job, he's got two of them … starting at once.

He was introduced as the Flyers' new head coach Thursday. He is also the bench boss for Team Canada in the 2019 IIHF World Championship from May 10-26.

As busy as it is, coaching in the worlds will give Vigneault a head start on getting to know two of his most important players with the Flyers: Sean Couturier and Carter Hart.

Team Canada will also provide a unique situation with plenty of Flyers ties.

The tournament will serve as a job interview of sorts for Flyers goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh. The statuses of the team's assistant coaches Dillabaugh, Kris Knoblauch (power play), Ian Laperriere (penalty kill) and Rick Wilson (defensemen) appear nebulous with a new head coach in town.

Because of his time with Hart, Dillabaugh will join Team Canada.

"Right now, we have a solid, young goaltender that all I've heard about were positive things," Vigneault said of Hart and the Flyers' situation in net. "We're going to be able to work with him at the world championships. We decided [Wednesday], with Hockey Canada, to also bring a goalie coach — we're going to bring the Flyers' goalie coach to the world championships. He's worked with Hart and he's had real good progression with him."

On Thursday, near the top of Vigneault's to-do-list was to discuss the Flyers' staff with general manager Chuck Fletcher and meet the current assistant coaches. Fletcher said: "We're going to talk a little bit more today and a little bit over the next week or two. I don't think it's going to be a rush to hire or a rush to judgment here."

Couturier will be playing for his new coach and his old coach Dave Hakstol, who is on Team Canada's staff. Former Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is also a part of Team Canada's management group.

Don't expect Vigneault to seek out advice from Hakstol regarding the Flyers. That would be a tad bit awkward.

"I'm going to lean on him for the tournament but I'm not going to ask Dave or Ron Hextall anything about players with the Flyers," Vigneault said. "I've said to Chuck that I want to come here with everybody fresh, clean, no preconceived notion. Players are going to come and they're going to show me what they can do. 

"Those would be two great sources for me to ask, but I'd rather trust my eyes, talk to the guys, get to know them and get a personal feel for who they are, what they can do and what they can bring."

Players like Couturier, Hart and Claude Giroux shouldn't have a problem showing what they bring to the table. They're three of the Flyers' surest bets right now.

Giroux chatted with Vigneault on Thursday at Flyers Skate Zone.

"Everything I've heard about him is this passion to win," Vigneault said of the Flyers' captain.

As for Giroux on his new coach: "Very excited," he said via text message to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Marc Farzetta. "Heard a lot of great things."

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule: Craig Berube, Blues can close out Jets

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule: Craig Berube, Blues can close out Jets

The Blues went 38-19-6 under interim head coach Craig Berube to storm into the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Berube, a former Flyers player and coach, now has St. Louis on the verge of the second round. The Blues host the Jets in Game 6 Saturday night with a chance to finish off their opening-round series.

Below is the full schedule for Day 11 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC. 

Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators (tied 2-2)
Game 5, Western Conference first round
3 p.m. ET | TV: NBC | Live stream here

Winnipeg Jets at St. Louis Blues (STL 3-2)
Game 6, Western Conference first round
7 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here

Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals (tied 2-2)
Game 5, Eastern Conference first round
8 p.m. ET | TV: NBC | Live stream here