Flyers

'Raised a Flyer,' Paul Holmgren looks back as he looks forward

'Raised a Flyer,' Paul Holmgren looks back as he looks forward

Paul Holmgren would've considered himself fortunate if he had played only one game for the Flyers.

"I think my proudest moment is playing my first game in the NHL because who would have thought?" he said.

"I grew up in Minnesota, probably didn't dream about playing in the NHL like a lot of Canadian kids do until maybe when I was in college at the University of Minnesota."

He made his NHL debut with the Flyers in March 1976, the season after the club had won back-to-back Stanley Cups. He was only 20 years old.

Forty-plus years later, Holmgren is moving into a senior advisory role with the Flyers after serving the team as president, general manager, assistant general manager, head coach, assistant coach and director of pro scouting (see story).

"I was raised a Flyer," Holmgren said Thursday via a conference call. "I'd like to believe I'll always have some kind of ties to the Flyers' organization because of how I feel about them, how I feel about the city, how I feel about the people I've worked with in the organization over the number of years I've been here. 

"It's a family to me. It always has been. And I still see it today as a family. Ed Snider, Bob Clarke, Billy Barber and Bernie Parent, and all those guys back in the early 70s, that's really when it blossomed into that thing. To me, it is still that. And I feel a big part of that. That's why I stayed. I love the Flyers. I don't know how to get into it any deeper without getting emotional."

Holmgren ended up playing 500 career games for the Flyers and 67 in the playoffs. He was most recently serving as team president. He feels the timing is right for the next phase of his life at 63 years old. He wants to spend more time with his family and he also believes the Flyers are on the right track under the direction of Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott and general manager Chuck Fletcher (see story).

But the Flyers lifer wanted to make one thing clear:

"I'm not really moving away," Holmgren said. "I'm going to be around town, so I'll be available for Dave whenever he needs me or whenever he wants to talk about anything. Same with Chuck. It's more on what they want to do. I'm not going to go away totally. I'm sure I'll be at some games. I love the Flyers. I want the Flyers to do well and anything I can help Dave or Chuck with in the future, I will be around.

"It's not like I'm going to go away and just disappear."

And Scott is thrilled to hear that.

"I think it's more Paul really joining the ranks of these elite players that have been around for a long time and have different roles in the organization," Scott said, referring to franchise icons Clarke and Barber, both of whom are also in advisory-type roles.

"Paul is being very humble, but I'll tell you, it's all heart and he always puts the Flyers first. Always has and always will be. We've talked a lot about this — I feel very fortunate that he is still going to be in Philadelphia and be a resource for the whole organization."

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Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award

Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Predicting who wins the Flyers' 2019-20 Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award, presented to the Flyer who best illustrates character, dignity and respect both on and off the ice.

Destra

The best part about the Flyers and their organization is that they are filled with top-notch people. Just about every player on the team could win this award. 

This year though, I’d have to go with Jakub Voracek. He is one of the most respected players on the ice but what stands out the most is the person he is off the ice. The person he is when the cameras aren’t on him. The person he is when it comes to being an ambassador for the phrase, "It’s more than just a game."

There are many examples from this season, but one of my favorites that simply showcases why Voracek should win the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award dates back to Feb. 27-28, when the Flyers signed Blake Steigauf to a one-day contract.

All throughout this video, you catch glimpses of Voracek with Steigauf, but the one moment that stuck with me was the shot of him waiting for the 15-year-old to come off the ice and into the tunnel before heading back to the locker room. 

All class. 

Emmer

The Flyers' dressing room is full of players with good character and high respect for the game, so this one was hard for me. 

This season, I’m picking Matt Niskanen.   

Niskanen is a highly respected, veteran player in the league and general manager Chuck Fletcher knew that when he decided to bring him in during the offseason.  

Coming into this year, the 33-year-old had 14 NHL seasons under his belt, 10 playoff runs and a Stanley Cup in 2018 — he had the experience the blue line needed.  

Where I think Niskanen really exceeded expectations so far this season is the leadership he brings. He’s highly respected by his teammates and has some of the best well-rounded character you could ask for in your dressing room.

We’re all able to see the example he sets on the ice with the defensive group as well as the team as a whole. He has certainly helped with the Flyers’ success this season. On top of that, he sets an example off the ice by showing respect toward those around him, from the Flyers’ personnel to members of media.

He has been a great addition to the team and I believe he’s the most deserving of the Yanick Dupre Award.  

Hatcher

I’m giving it to Niskanen. This was tough for all the right reasons though. I think you could make a case for quite a few players on the team to take this one home.

There are a lot of great guys in that dressing room that are both the type of player and the type of person you’d want on your hockey team. But when you say “character, dignity and respect,” my mind jumps right to Niskanen. He holds himself and his teammates accountable in the most respectful way following tough contests. He has experienced success and exudes the maturity that comes with that, without ever talking about it or being boastful about it.

He’s the “Steady Eddie” of the team, keeping things in balance on the ice and off it. Never complains, not even with 15 stitches in his nose. And beyond his character contributions, he’s been exactly what Fletcher hoped he’d be in terms of a player — a dependable defenseman that has perfectly complemented Ivan Provorov on the Flyers' top D pairing.

Hall

During his first season in Philadelphia, Kevin Hayes has fully embraced the community on top of augmenting the dynamic in the Flyers' dressing room.

Through a mixture of lightheartedness and leadership, Hayes has brought the Flyers closer together. The 27-year-old center has been a quality teammate and a go-to interview all season.

He has shown nothing but respect and character in his dealings with fans, media members and Flyers employees.

There isn't a bad choice here, but Hayes' value has gone beyond the ice.

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Sean Couturier reveals an interesting nickname and clowns Michael Raffl

Sean Couturier reveals an interesting nickname and clowns Michael Raffl

Sean Couturier has been in Philadelphia for nine years and there's a nickname that hasn't become public.

On Saturday night, the NHL tweeted out a video of Couturier to promote the NHL Gaming World Championship. This is where we learned of this interesting nugget.

Paul Bissonnette, the host of the video, alerts Couturier that he had some dirt on the nine-year veteran from Claude Giroux.

It's revealed that his teammates call Couturier "Elton John" because when going in for a breakaway, he sometimes looks like he's carrying a piano on his back.

That's one you can't live down.

Once the spotlight is taken off Couturier, he chose Michael Raffl as the biggest jokester on the team and started modifying some of his skills and attributes in NHL20.

For example, Couturier gives Raffl a high mark for speed, but pokes fun at his lack of physicality. The body checking attribute came down big time.

For the rest of Couturier's answers, watch the video here:

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