Flyers

Paul Holmgren no longer Flyers president, taking on new role with team as senior advisor

Paul Holmgren no longer Flyers president, taking on new role with team as senior advisor

Paul Holmgren is taking on a new role with the Flyers.

He will no longer serve as team president and instead be a senior advisor to Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott.

General manager Chuck Fletcher will now take on a new title as president of hockey operations, as well, and will report directly to Scott. Fletcher, working in hockey since 1993, has been in the Flyers' GM chair since early December and has done plenty in his first offseason (see story).

For Holmgren, the role change was his idea and one he consulted with Scott, going back to June 2018. Holmgren, who has eight grandchildren, said the timing felt right to focus on family and the next phase of his life. He also made it clear he's not going away and will be available to Scott and Fletcher in his new role.

"I love the Flyers and I want the Flyers to do well," Holmgren said via a conference call Thursday.

Holmgren has served the organization for 40-plus years in a variety of roles. The 63-year-old has played for the club, been the president, general manager, assistant general manager, head coach and director of pro scouting (see story).

"It's been an honor to serve this franchise in many different roles throughout my life and I look forward to this next chapter," Holmgren said in a release by the team. "I approached Dave about my idea to step aside to spend more time with my family. I have complete confidence in Chuck in his new role, leading the Flyers to great things. The Flyers have given so much to me and my family over the years, and I have forged life-long friendships with the many players, coaches, employees and fans who have helped me make Philadelphia home for over 40 years. I would like to thank Dave and Chuck for their efforts to lead this franchise into a bright future and for their continued confidence in me as I take on this new role."

Scott commended Holmgren for what he's meant to the organization and how he'll be in a role similar to franchise icons Bob Clarke and Bill Barber as a highly valued sounding board and consultant.

Paul has been an invaluable leader within the Flyers family for more than 40 years, and instrumental in placing the organization in a strong position for future success. Paul has earned a place among the organization's all-time greats and certainly fits the role exemplified by our late chairman, Ed Snider: 'A Flyer Forever.'

- Scott

Scott said his relationship with Holmgren grew during the difficult time of Snider's illness and death in April 2016.

"Paul and I have been around six years plus now, we've watched a lot of hockey games together. I think the one thing Paul has really taught me is patience," Scott said via the conference call. "The game, it's line by line, period by period, game by game — it's a long season and you've really got to have that perspective because things can shift on a dime.

"We're colleagues and now we're good friends. We really had to navigate through a difficult time there and got through it. We have all new leadership in place now on the hockey side, so I think we're really poised for success."


(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

Scott will work more closely with Fletcher.

"Paul and I recruited Chuck together," Scott said. "I've gotten to know Chuck and I will spend more time with him directly."

Both Scott and Holmgren raved about Fletcher's performance thus far, especially in his first offseason with the ability to collaborate (see story).

"Chuck's got a really good grasp of things," Holmgren said. "He loves the Flyers, he knows the iconic brand, he knows how important the Flyers are to the city of Philadelphia and he wants to get us back to where we should be."

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What it was like to go back to work at Flyers training camp

What it was like to go back to work at Flyers training camp

These are different times; or the new norm as many like to call it.

Everyone is tasked with adjusting to these times. For me, on Monday, July 13, I was tasked with my own adjustments ... in order to watch and report on hockey. Suffice it to say, for me, life — and my simple adjustments, considering all things — could be much worse. I was happy to return to Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, for the first time since March 11, a span of 124 days.

The Flyers were back to work at their practice facility with the opening of training camp in preparation for the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament.

Monday, July 13, was different — and that's OK. I'm going to enjoy as we adjust.

Here was a different day at Flyers practice (with plenty of hand sanitizer and wearing my mask):

Checking in

I arrived to the facility at 9:23 a.m. and hung tight in my air-conditioned car. Not too bad, right?

Gritty was probably back inside on the elliptical and hitting the bench press. Respect the grind.

Typically, I would walk in through the front doors of Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone at my own leisure, head upstairs, get situated and prepare for the day at hand.

On Monday, though, media members permitted back to the facility had to enter between 10-10:30 a.m. for a temperature and symptom check. Wearing a mask (as all were in the facility), I passed my temperature check, filled out a form answering symptom questions, and was on my way upstairs.


Watching practice

There is a ton of space in the common area upstairs. Instead of all reporters cozying up in the more confined media room on that level, the Flyers and Skate Zone set up separate workstations for each writer in the common area with proper social distance.

Very safe and very nice of them.

At one point, I think I nearly drank my coffee through my mask; we made it work.

But I digress.

When the morning and afternoon practices were held, we could stand and watch from the media room, which has windows that overlook the ice. We were asked to maintain social distance when doing so ... no biggie at all. When practices wrapped up (or whenever we needed to), we could head back to our individual and assigned workstations.

During development or training camps, entering the rink area and watching along the boards is an awesome luxury. It provides a terrific vantage point to shoot video, take notes, snap pictures, analyze drills and gain a greater insight of the competition.

Currently, no media members are allowed to enter either of the two practice rinks and understandably so. Not the end of the world as we can still observe from upstairs with a great view.


Good to see faces, even on video

Normally with practice, whenever the first skater heads off the ice following a practice, we all scurry downstairs and toward the Flyers' dressing room for access to interview players and head coach Alain Vigneault.

Conversing with players in person and 1-on-1 is what I've missed greatly during the coronavirus pandemic. Building relationships and telling stories are what make our jobs special. Access to a locker room is so beneficial because it offers you an emotional sense for the story, allows you to see and feel beyond the score of a game and what happened on the ice.

Right now, having close interactions in media scrums or tight quarters is not feasible or logical. But it's still great to see faces of colleagues or Flyers personnel from a distance or via video.

From our workstations using Webex, we were able to interview Vigneault, general manager Chuck Fletcher and players Matt Niskanen, Claude Giroux, Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konecny.

Raising your hand virtually ain't so bad. It's like a supremely organized way to work in your question. And everyone could hear us through our masks.


Stick taps to all those involved

So many deserve a ton of credit for creating a safe environment in uncharted waters.

Three folks who are always helping and have made these waters as smooth as possible for us media: Flyers senior director of communications Zack Hill, director of public relations Joe Siville and manager of broadcasting and media services Brian Smith.

Following the final interview around 3:30 p.m., it was time to pack up and hit the road. We usually can stay as long as we'd like to write and work but the Flyers have asked media members to exit the premises approximately 15 minutes after the last virtual press conference. Again, completely understandable.

I've always liked staying at the facility to work. It's pretty quiet and there's a rink. Then I can drive home at a calmer hour.

But these are different times and we all need to adjust. Like a hockey team, everyone plays a part.

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Flyers sign Mark Friedman to 2-year contract extension

Flyers sign Mark Friedman to 2-year contract extension

VOORHEES, N.J. — Mark Friedman took the ice Monday afternoon with a new contract for the next two seasons.

The Flyers signed the 24-year-old defenseman to a two-year, one-way contract extension with an average annual value of $725,000. Friedman was set to become a restricted free agent in the offseason.

Friedman has given the Flyers good depth to their crowded blue line. Head coach Alain Vigneault liked what he saw from Friedman in the 2014 third-round pick's six games with the club during the regular season.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder is reliable, quick on his feet and plays with purpose. Friedman looks like he'll be the Flyers' eighth defenseman during the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament. He was a part of the afternoon session Monday at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone as the team opened training camp in preparation for the resumption of the season.

Friedman will compete for a roster spot next season and serve as a dependable call-up option if he's with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

In the offseason, the Flyers will have to decide if they want to re-sign veteran Justin Braun, who has been good for them and can become an unrestricted agent. The Flyers' defense will get only more intriguing in 2020-21. The blue line is an area of strength for the Flyers, who are young at the position and have prospects nearing, as well.

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

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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