Flyers

Flyers' Travis Konecny out indefinitely with concussion after hit from Mark Borowiecki

Flyers' Travis Konecny out indefinitely with concussion after hit from Mark Borowiecki

VOORHEES, N.J. — Monday started with bad news for the Flyers.

Travis Konecny, their 22-year-old leading scorer, is out indefinitely with a concussion.

Konecny was leveled in open ice by Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki during the first period of the Flyers' 4-3 win Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center. He left the game and never returned.

The 2015 first-round pick is on pace to shatter his career highs. He's been arguably the Flyers’ most important piece to their turnaround through 30 games of 2019-20.

He has 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) after having 28 points through the team's first 50 games last season. The Flyers are 2-4-4 in games that he hasn't scored.

I didn’t know a ton about him. I knew he competed like hell, fiery player," Matt Niskanen, in his first year with the Flyers, said Monday. "Playing with him, that’s reinforced that thought — hungry on the puck, good quickness, really good at creating turnovers. He’s shown a pretty good scoring touch, too, so far this year. A lot of good tools and he’s been a really important player for us.

Philippe Myers left the Flyers' skill practice Monday with back spasms. With Konecny out and Myers potentially out for Wednesday's game in Colorado against the Avalanche (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Flyers will most likely have only 12 healthy forwards and six healthy defensemen to open a three-game road trip.

Niskanen, who has 125 career postseason games on his résumé and a Stanley Cup title, said this can be a good challenge for the Flyers. The team is 12-3-4 and tied with the Capitals for the most points in the NHL at 28 since Nov. 1 (see weekly observations).

"Both guys have played really well for us," he said. "Hopefully they come back, we've been on a pretty good run here. But it gives somebody an opportunity and it tests us a little bit — and that's OK, early in the year, you're going to have to learn to deal with things."

As of Monday morning, the Flyers did not have plans to make a call-up. Forward Chris Stewart will enter the lineup and defenseman Robert Hagg will, as well, if Myers is unable to go in Colorado.

Head coach Alain Vigneault said it's uncertain if Konecny will or can travel with the Flyers. The team flies to Denver Tuesday afternoon.

"At this time, I would say no," Vigneault said, "but you never know how things change."

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2020 NHL playoffs: Bill Daly discusses 24-team plan, hub cities, testing and more

2020 NHL playoffs: Bill Daly discusses 24-team plan, hub cities, testing and more

As the NHL announced its 24-team return-to-play model this week, excitement built around the idea of hockey coming back and the Stanley Cup Playoffs being held.

Flyers fans were smack-dab in the middle of the excitement because their team is in a promising spot among the field and was climbing when the season was suspended March 12.

Inevitably and understandably, many were left with questions, as well, following the league's releasing of its plan.

Two big ones: When can everyone expect games to start and what will it take to be able to do so?

With the current uncertain nature of the coronavirus pandemic, those questions are still in the process of being answered.

The NHL is hoping to begin Phase 2 (players returning to team practice facilities for voluntary activities) in early June. Phase 3 (mandatory team training camps) won't happen before July 10, which means the implementation of Phase 4 (resuming play) can occur at the earliest late July, with the beginning of August more likely.

What might that look like for the players and permitted personnel?

“We haven’t fully developed either our Phase 3 or our Phase 4 protocol at this point in time," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Friday in a video interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia's Michael Barkann. "We have some good models to work with, we have some good ideas, obviously we have our medical advisors and infectious disease specialists who will be helping us construct our Phase 4 protocol.

"But the ideal hub city is a place where there’s enough room for players to have a life, they’re not going to be sent back to their hotel rooms and stay there 24/7 when they’re not practicing and playing, but it’s going to be a contained environment and it’s going to be a secure environment. It’s going to give the players some opportunity for some entertainment and some freedom, but within a contained environment. We have some ideas on how that works, it will be interesting to see how it works, but that’s the concept."

Some of the biggest hurdles for the NHL will be finalizing the protocol for testing and the procedure for positive cases.

"In terms of what we’re hearing from our medical advisors on the possibility of a positive test, obviously everybody in this environment is going to be tested very, very frequently on a daily basis," Daly said. "The players will all be tested before they go back to their rooms at night, we’ll have those test results turned around before they leave their rooms in the morning. If we have a positive test, we’ll get the person involved the appropriate medical care, we’ll isolate them right away. We have been told by our advisors that depending on the circumstances, it doesn’t necessarily mean a whole team has to be quarantined, it won’t necessarily shut down the entire tournament, so we’re working on that assumption right now. Obviously if we start to get multiple positives or an outbreak type of situation, it’s an entirely different analysis. But at least now, we’re working on the assumption that one positive test doesn’t shut down the entire tournament.”

The tournament will be held in two hub cities — one for the Eastern Conference and the other for the Western Conference. Philadelphia is not an option. The cities being considered for both conferences are Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Edmonton, Alberta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Flyers practice in Voorhees, New Jersey, and were given the OK on Tuesday by Gov. Phil Murphy to return to training and even competition at the Skate Zone facility.

“At the time of when we came up with the hub city concept and started working with cities, Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, they were hot spots for sure, and I think continue to be more than some of our other cities," Daly said. "That’s one of the things we evaluated and kept track of throughout this process. Before we went to opening training facilities in Phase 2, we wanted to make sure the clubs were on a relatively equal footing with respect to their ability to open their training facilities."

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Devils reportedly interested in former Flyers head coaches Peter Laviolette, John Stevens

Devils reportedly interested in former Flyers head coaches Peter Laviolette, John Stevens

With the NHL's 24-team return-to-play plan, naturally some hockey fans have enjoyed poking fun at the seven clubs left out of the field.

The Devils being one of them.

But not is all bad for the Flyers' Metropolitan Division foe. New Jersey has a 7.5 percent chance to earn the No. 1 overall draft slot after landing the top pick in 2019 (Jack Hughes) and 2017 (Nico Hischier). For the 2020 draft, the Devils could end up with three first-round selections.

Not an awful spot.

New Jersey is also in the market for a head coach after finishing the 2019-20 campaign with interim bench boss Alain Nasreddine. There are some big fish out there and the Devils could reel one in — possibly a former Flyers head coach. According to a report Thursday by Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman in his latest 31 Thoughts column, New Jersey is eyeing at least four candidates for its vacancy.

Two of them spent time behind the Flyers' bench in 2009-10, when the club made a run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Per Friedman:

As for the coaching search, word is the Devils are eyeing at least four candidates. I believe that includes incumbent Alain Nasreddine, along with Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette and John Stevens. There may be one more. The wrinkle here is that [interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald] did the initial interviews, and will any of them want him as their boss should they be choice? It’s also possible ownership will want a conversation before any decision is made. It’s a unique time to try and hire someone.

Flyers fans had it difficult enough seeing Wayne Simmonds in Devils red for most of this season. Laviolette attempting to lead New Jersey back to playoff hockey for just the second time in nine seasons would be interesting to follow from afar. Nobody would doubt his ability to do it. Laviolette, who was fired by the Predators in January, has taken all four teams he has coached to the playoffs and three of them to the Stanley Cup Final, winning it all with the Hurricanes in 2006.

Stevens hasn't been an NHL head coach since 2018-19, when he was fired by the Kings 13 games into the season. He led the Flyers to back-to-back playoff appearances from 2007 to 2009 and was let go by the club 25 games into the 2009-10 campaign, opening the door for Laviolette's tenure in Philadelphia.

If Laviolette goes to the Devils, he'll have coached four teams now currently in the Metropolitan Division. Alain Vigneault (Rangers, Flyers), Barry Trotz (Capitals, Islanders) and John Tortorella (Rangers, Blue Jackets) have also coached multiple clubs in the division.

Laviolette would certainly give the division another heavy hitter behind the bench.

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