Flyers

Phantoms' Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers pairing can't be trusted with Flyers ... yet

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Phantoms' Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers pairing can't be trusted with Flyers ... yet

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The Flyers' general manager who was able to construct an entire blue line through trades and free-agent signings was once asked, "What's the number one trait you look for out of a defenseman?"

Paul Holmgren’s response was decisive and to the point. Paraphrasing, Holmgren said, "The one who can get the puck out of his zone as quickly as possible."

As much as the game of hockey has been broken down into advanced metrics and analytics, it’s rather simple at its core. The more time a team spends in its end of the ice, the greater likelihood it'll be on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

The AHL playoffs have served as an ideal test site for Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers, who have been stalwarts throughout the Phantoms' postseason run. 

However, Game 3 at the PPL Center Wednesday night further exemplified the necessary strides the Flyers' defensive prospects must take in order to develop into reliable, everyday NHL blueliners.  

Oftentimes, less is more when you have the puck in the defensive end of the ice, and it took roughly 62 seconds into the game on Sanheim’s opening shift for the 22-year-old to make a major gaffe that gave the Toronto Marlies a 1-0 lead. 

Instead of making the simple play of a quick pass up the boards, Sanheim elected to keep it, reversing his field and was suddenly stripped with the attacking forward trailing. Roughly two seconds elapsed from the moment Sanheim lost the puck to when it was behind goalie Alex Lyon in the net. 

“On that particular play, we have full possession of the puck and the opportunity to advance it," Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon said. "Instead, we go back behind the net to where their guy is. That’s just playing into their hands. In that situation, and in a few of our breakouts, there were opportunities to move forward with the puck and we didn’t.”   

However, the gaffes involving the Sanheim-Myers pairing didn’t stop there. Sanheim was stripped of the puck at his own blue line during the first Phantoms' power play. Myers inexcusably lost his edge skating with the puck through the neutral zone. Toronto’s Andreas Johnsson muscled his way around Sanheim to generate a quality scoring chance, and then another terrible pass and turnover inside the Phantoms' zone.

And that all came in the first seven minutes of the game. 

If Dave Hakstol had been behind the bench (he was actually watching from the PPL Center press box), Sanheim is likely sitting in front of him for the remainder of the game. That’s essentially what transpired in mid-January at the Prudential Center in New Jersey when Sanheim’s play landed him back in the minors for a month and a half. 

Chalk this up as one bad game. Game 3 of the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals was simply another teaching moment as the Phantoms were blown out, 5-0, falling behind 3-0 in the series. Both players will be back there together logging close to 25 minutes as the Phantoms try to avoid elimination Friday night.    

As exciting as it is to watch Sanheim and Myers generate offense within the Phantoms' system with their size and skating ability, there’s no way Hakstol and the Flyers can depend on that pairing defensively next season. Together, they’re still young, inexperienced and unreliable. 

If anything, expect the competition between Myers and Sanheim as something worth watching when Flyers camp opens in September. Myers has closed the gap in his first full season in the AHL. 

And the guy who can clean up their play defensively will likely be the one that starts next season with the Flyers.  

NHL players post messages to spark dialogue on racial injustice following death of George Floyd

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NHL players post messages to spark dialogue on racial injustice following death of George Floyd

NHL players are not always the most active on social media. They're down-to-earth athletes, seldom saying look at me or hear what I have to say.

That's completely understandable.

Many, though, have posted messages amid the protests across the United States 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.

Current and former players shared powerful messages about recognizing the issue of racism and racial injustice — and challenging everyone to come together to make strides in solving the problem.

The messages are important. Listening is also important. Whether somebody sent out a message or not, let's hope reading, listening, discussing and acting can all spark change.

Below are some of the messages from across the league:

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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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