Flyers

Flyers weekly observations: Chuck Fletcher's message, Wayne Simmonds' professionalism, more

Flyers weekly observations: Chuck Fletcher's message, Wayne Simmonds' professionalism, more

The Flyers' win streak came to an end this past week.

However, the point streak is still alive, the team made a trade, a few prospects have arrived and the Flyers are lurking in the playoff chase.

Let's get into some observations:

• Would Philippe Myers be here right now if Ron Hextall was still in the general manager seat for the Flyers? 

It's a fair question to ask.

Hextall wasn't exactly the type of GM to call up a 22-year-old prospect with no NHL experience during a postseason race that has just 27 games remaining. Hextall was well-known for his staunch approach with prospects and their development. Former head coach Dave Hakstol's decisions often jived with Hextall's patience.

Current general manager Chuck Fletcher changed the Flyers' course in a few ways with the promotion of Myers from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. 

For one, Fletcher has no problems if the defenseman gets his number called, despite the magnitude of a playoff push and the team playing its best hockey.

"That's how you have to learn," Fletcher said. "He's earned the right. … I believe he can help us up here."

He also doesn't mind if Myers sits a few games and soaks everything in.

"If we can get him some experience, practice seems great, being around the team is great," Fletcher said. "If he can get some games, that'll only help him as he prepares for next year."

Hextall did recall then-21-year-old defenseman Travis Sanheim in March of last season, but that was under emergency conditions. Sanheim, who had already played earlier in the year, ended up being so good that he had to stay, helping the Flyers sneak into the postseason.

Fletcher was not brought in to practice patience. He's ready to see what Myers can do now.

• There's probably nobody out there envious of Fletcher's spot with Wayne Simmonds.

The decision gets tougher by the day.

Now wouldn't be an ideal time to move on from a player who is considered the heart and soul of the Flyers, beloved for truly embodying the city's spirit. The Flyers are the hottest team in hockey and showing life in the postseason hunt, exactly what upper management envisioned and desired when it summoned Fletcher.

What kind of message does it send to all parties — team, management, fans — if Simmonds is traded when there's actual hope?

Still, Fletcher understands the importance of not only this season, but also the next — a difficult and delicate balance to make, especially right now. Ironically, the Flyers going on a tear has made his job harder.

One thing is certain: Simmonds has been a true pro. Remember, he has seen a number of teammates rewarded with contract extensions.

As his situation has lingered, he hasn't changed.

That isn't lost on Fletcher ahead of the Feb. 25 trade deadline.

Wayne has played hard, he's been very good of late and I can't commend him enough on his professionalism, his attitude. You watch him in celebrations after we win a game, he’s pretty much the first guy out there to congratulate Carter [Hart] or Anthony [Stolarz], as the case may be. He's just a great teammate and has done a lot for this franchise.

• Goalies really can be the backbone of a team's confidence.

You have to marvel at how Hart, a 20-year-old kid, has been that for a team with a veteran core. It just shows you how vital the position is in this sport.

The Flyers are no longer fighting for confidence. Sean Couturier's quote on Saturday encapsulated Hart's impact.

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Breaking down 2019-20 third-line competition after Flyers' signing of Chris Stewart to pro tryout

Breaking down 2019-20 third-line competition after Flyers' signing of Chris Stewart to pro tryout

You can never have enough competition.

There will be plenty of it when training camp rolls around in September as the Flyers have a third-line job opening on the wing.

General manager Chuck Fletcher added a candidate Wednesday by signing forward Chris Stewart to an NHL pro tryout for camp.

Stewart, 31, was a 2006 first-round draft pick of the Avalanche and has played 652 career NHL games between six teams. His best season came as a 22-year-old with the Avalanche in 2009-10, when he scored 64 points (28 goals, 36 assists) over 77 games. Last season, he played in the EIHL for the Nottingham Panthers, scoring 13 points (six goals, seven assists) through 23 games.

The 6-foot-2, 242-pound winger has ties to the Flyers' GM. He played parts of three seasons for Fletcher's Wild from 2014 to 2018, putting up 25 goals, 20 assists and a plus-6 rating in 146 games.

The Flyers like their options for the third-line winger vacancy. The names include Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Isaac Ratcliffe, German Rubtsov, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Andy Andreoff and Kurtis Gabriel.

Farabee and Frost have drawn a lot of attention as young first-round draft picks coming off big seasons with Boston University (see story) and the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (see story), respectively. Rubtsov is an underrated option given his size, advanced game and positional versatility. Ratcliffe is a 6-foot-6 winger who scored 50 goals last season with the OHL's Guelph Storm, while Vorobyev saw time with the Flyers in 2018-19.

"It's more than Farabee and Frost," Fletcher said July 1. "I think Rubtsov had a tremendous prospect camp here. Ratcliffe is a quality young player. Vorobyev is a young man that we feel is going to come back next year a little bit stronger.

"There are several players down there that can play games, never mind Andreoff, who's a player that I think will make a very strong push to make our team this season. Kurtis Gabriel is a player that's played games in the NHL the past few seasons. We have a lot of options. That's what training camp is for — it's an opportunity for players to come in and show that they belong. It should be an exciting camp."

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Flyers mascot Gritty works on his dad bod at Planet Fitness

Flyers mascot Gritty works on his dad bod at Planet Fitness

Did you think Gritty was going to be satisfied with winning the NHL Fan Choice Awards honor for best mascot?

Think again.

The guy is not resting on his laurels this summer. He's training hard for 2019-20. He was seen working up a sweat Tuesday at the Planet Fitness on Christopher Columbus Boulevard.


(Picture courtesy of NBC Sports Philadelphia's Todd Berman)

Rumor has it Gritty is working on his summer abs.

Or maybe not.

Regardless, the orange fella knows how to stay in shape. He's a preparation junkie, a true gym (and rink) rat. Complacency is not in Gritty's vocabulary.

He's also not breaking glass and scaring kids, so that's a positive.

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