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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Former Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald to attend Flames training camp on professional tryout

Former Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald to attend Flames training camp on professional tryout

After being bought out by the Flyers in mid-June, Andrew MacDonald is getting his next shot.

The soon-to-be 33-year-old defenseman will try to make the Flames' roster by attending Calgary's training camp on a professional tryout.

NHL teams often take fliers on veteran players as they shape their rosters because it simply can't hurt. The Flyers are doing so this training camp with winger Chris Stewart (see story).

While he wasn't a fan favorite in Philadelphia because of his contract, MacDonald was one of the most respected players in the Flyers' dressing room. You'd think the Flames are taking into account what they've heard from others around the league about MacDonald and his impact off the ice.

MacDonald has played 586 career games and 23 in the postseason. Calgary has won just one playoff series over the past 10 seasons. During 2018-19, the Flames went 50-25-7 with 107 points during the regular season — second best in the NHL to only the Lightning — but were bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

Calgary has a pretty strong defense, led by James Norris Memorial Trophy winner Mark Giordano, so making the roster won't be easy for MacDonald.

The Flyers bought out MacDonald for better cap flexibility and to open the door for some of their younger defensemen to take the next step. With the additions of Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, the Flyers have solid, accomplished guys to augment the younger group of Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin.

"This guy is a consummate professional," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said of MacDonald in June. "We asked a lot of Andrew and by that I mean he was a player that played the left side, played the right side, he'd be a healthy scratch and then we'd put him back in the lineup. We asked him to play with young players and mentor them and bring stability to our back end.

"He's just a quality person and a guy that played a very effective two-way game for our team, but we are in a cap world and we made that tough decision today to try reallocate some of those dollars to maximize our chance to stay in the hunt on some players."

The Flyers will pay MacDonald $1,916,667 in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

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Little boy preciously confuses Flyers mascot Gritty for Cookie Monster

Little boy preciously confuses Flyers mascot Gritty for Cookie Monster

Gritty will take this as a compliment.

After all, who doesn't love Cookie Monster? The big, blue, furry creature eats cookies for all three meals of the day — that's living.

Gritty knows how to live, too. The Flyers' mascot was confused for the Sesame Street character by an adorable little boy admiring Cookie Mon--err, Gritty on the cover of Philadelphia Magazine.

The video was posted on Twitter Tuesday morning by @shegabstoomuch.

"Whoaaaaaa," the little boy says in awe.

"Wow, who is that?" he's asked.

"Cookie Monster!"

Tremendous.

Gritty will not endure a sophomore slump in 2019-20. He has been working on his figure this summer, staying in shape for the upcoming season.

Does he sneak in a cookie from time to time? Of course he does.

So our little guy wasn't far off.


(Eric Hartline/USA Today Images)

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