Flyers

Rick Wilson says believe in the Flyers' coaching staff

Rick Wilson says believe in the Flyers' coaching staff

VOORHEES, N.J. — Rick Wilson has been around quite a bit.

He owns over 30 years of NHL coaching experience, has served seven different teams and won a Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999.

The 68-year-old knows a thing or two about coaching.

And he believes in the Flyers' coaches, a staff that is essentially in audition mode with a new general manager taking over the reins. The 2018-19 Flyers have underperformed, which is a major reason why Ron Hextall no longer has a job and why Chuck Fletcher was being introduced at a press conference Wednesday.

The coaching staff is now fighting for its future in the Flyers' organization. Gord Murphy was let go last week after Hextall's firing and before Fletcher's arrival.

Now Wilson is on board, fresh out of retirement. He has been impressed by head coach Dave Hakstol and assistants Kris Knoblauch (power play), Ian Laperriere (penalty kill) and Kim Dillabaugh (goalies), a group that has been under heavy outside criticism for the Flyers' shortcomings through 25 games this season.

"I love working with these young coaches, it's a good coaching staff — really good coaching staff," Wilson said Wednesday after his first practice. "They're younger and they know the new elements in the game — the video elements, the computer side of things, the analytics.

"You've got to work together. It's part of a team, that's what I've always been a part of. There's no single answer to anything that's going on around here — not one single answer." 

Wilson is more of an old-school guy embracing the new age of coaching but never losing his approach.

"I come in, I bring in my own computer, which is here (points to head). It's still working, it still goes at 33 speed unfortunately, but it's going," Wilson said. "And my video is here (points to eyes), so my visual. And I guess my analytics is my gut. To me, gut feel is just an accumulation of hundreds of thousands of experiences you've seen and then you draw something, and you don't even know where it all comes from, but you just say you have a gut feel. 

"That's what I believe. I don't know if all that is garbage, it probably is, but that's what I think and maybe that's what I can bring from my side to the young coaching staff."

Wilson, who will oversee the Flyers' blueliners, is a people person. He wants to listen to and learn from his defensemen as much as they do with him. He's known Hakstol for 15 years or so and was hired by Fletcher in Minnesota.

He had the itch to get back into coaching and the Flyers' potential helped make his decision.

"The competitive challenge was there with a team that I thought could go from where they are now to where they can be and should be," he said. "And I hopefully can be some sort of support to them and help.

"I've been in the business long enough — you don't think too much past each season. Everybody is under constant scrutiny and review. In that respect, I don't look too far ahead."

Like Wilson, Fletcher is just starting to acclimate himself to the Flyers' coaches. After Thursday's home game, the real evaluation should begin for Fletcher as the Flyers open a five-game road trip Saturday spanning eight days.

"I want it to work, I want to be successful with this group," Fletcher said. "It's not threats or anything, but if we don't have the solutions in-house, we'll look outside. There's no timetable for any of that, other than we're just trying to get better. 

"It will be great next week going on the road, Western Canada, we'll have time to go for some dinners, we have some back-to-backs, you have some late-night flights and you start to see people in their element."

Wilson has been around long enough to know the feeling of job pressure. Maybe he can help Hakstol, Knoblauch, Laperriere and Dillabaugh just as much as he helps the defensemen.

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Nolan Patrick? Present! Travis Konecny's situation, shot to Carter Hart, more from Flyers training camp

Nolan Patrick? Present! Travis Konecny's situation, shot to Carter Hart, more from Flyers training camp

VOORHEES, N.J. — Let the games begin.

The Flyers on Sunday finished up their third consecutive practice of training camp leading into Monday night's preseason opener against the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./NBCSP).

During the first two days of camp, head coach Alain Vigneault really pushed the tempo. The team studies the drills before hitting the ice, so when one drill finishes, the next begins at a bang-bang pace. On Day 3, Vigneault pulled back the reins because the Flyers begin a stretch of four exhibition games in six days.

Vigneault and the team's training staff study the data.

"I do the pace, I do the practice, but I also use the science," Vigneault said. "Our guys right now, as we're practicing, are monitored by our strength coach and I know the different loads that we're attaining. 

"The first two days, the loads were very high, more than a game's worth. Today, I tapered down a little bit, I shortened practice up a little bit. Because these guys are playing [Monday], I want them to have energy. I follow the science. 

"I was fortunate enough that I when I went to New York, we had sort of the same basis. I got here and they had the same formula for loads, lengths and intensity of practice. I'm able to use that and monitor that real well."

Let's get into five observations:

1. Patrick? Present!

Nolan Patrick missed the first three days of training camp with an upper-body injury. He's considered week to week but it's uncertain when he'll return to practice or if he'll be ready for the regular season.

Patrick, however, has been skating and getting in work before the Flyers take the ice, which the 20-year-old center did again Sunday morning.

It's never good to miss the beginning of camp or preseason, especially when there's a new head coach implementing systematic changes and competition is ripe for spots.

But Vigneault said Patrick has been very involved, essentially doing everything he can without actually practicing.

"It's unfortunate, but at the same time, he's in all the meetings, he's doing extra on the ice with our skill coach," Vigneault said. "Hopefully this upper-body injury will leave and he'll be back with us. But I think the fact that he's here and he's capable to see the video that we're showing and he knows all the drills that we're doing, he is behind, but he is not as far behind as someone that's not physically here at this time."

Another message to Travis Konecny?

2. Lineup stuff

Here's how the Flyers' forwards will look Monday night:

James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek 
Isaac Ratcliffe-Morgan Frost-Joel Farabee 
Oskar Lindblom-German Rubtsov-Chris Stewart 
Kyle Criscuolo-Mikhail Vorobyev-Maksim Sushko

The Flyers' top line could be the second unit in the season opener. It has size mixed with skill and playmaking. Hayes (6-5/216) and van Riemsdyk (6-3/212) were with each throughout the first three days of camp, while Voracek (6-2/217) joined them Sunday.

"You've got three guys with great puck protection skills, three guys that have got some good speed," Vigneault said. "Some might say that JVR is not the quickest, I would say to you he skates a lot better than people think.

"Once they're in the offensive zone and they have the puck, it's going to be tough for the other team to get it back. I'm really anxious to see how those three are going to do together."

The Flyers' three top prospects are also back together. The trio was impressive during rookie camp and the prospects game.

Shayne Gostisbehere, Justin Braun, Philippe Myers and Samuel Morin are the notable defensemen suiting up Monday. Brian Elliott will start the game in net and be relieved by Alex Lyon.

3. Giroux-Couturier-Farabee

Vigneault doesn't expect to play Claude Giroux or Sean Couturier in Tuesday's second preseason game, either.

So what will happen with the Giroux-Couturier-Farabee dream line that has had everyone abuzz?

"There's a definite strong possibility after [Tuesday], we will see that young man with those two players," Vigneault said. "They had a real good first couple of days. We decided with management that this is the group we want to go with [Monday]. Then they'll watch the game and probably make other decisions for the next day."

It's good to hear those three will likely get a game together. They were that good during the first two days of camp and the Flyers need to get the best read they can on Farabee during the exhibition slate. Playing him with talent will help.

4. The Konecny situation

The Konecny hiatus will now linger into the preseason schedule. And even if Konecny and the Flyers agree to a contract sometime this week, it would be difficult to throw him into a preseason game with little to no practice. 

Which means the 22-year-old could very well miss more than half the preseason given the Flyers play four of their seven exhibition games this upcoming week.

Hard to believe.

With the unknown surrounding Patrick and Konecny, those are two first-round picks, two young forwards that can legitimately make or break the team's depth in 2019-20.

The Flyers, prone to slow starts in years past, are already facing some challenges.

5. That's nuts

Moments after a drill, Carter Hart went down on one knee and was shaken up.

The beloved 21-year-old goalie didn't miss any drills and was able to finish practice.

Phew.

Everything fine?

"I got it right in the nuts," Hart said. "It didn't feel very good."

Ouch.

"I thought maybe they crawled up into my stomach after that," he said.

At least he's OK.

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Flyers, Warriors team up for beautiful salute, beautiful cause

zack_hill_philadelphia_flyers_bobby_clarke_warriors.jpg
Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers, Warriors team up for beautiful salute, beautiful cause

VOORHEES, N.J. — It started with a phone call from Rick Stabeno.

"The call was very simple: 'I'm a Flyers fan, I'm a veteran, I'm a hockey player, I would like to start a team in the Philadelphia area. Can you guys help me?'" former Flyer Brad Marsh said.

It has blossomed into the Flyers Warriors hockey team, dedicated to U.S. Military Veterans with disabilities and a passion to play the sport.

"Dream come true," captain Jim Young said after Flyers legend Bobby Clarke handed him his Warriors jersey Saturday at Skate Zone.


(Jordan Hall/NBC Sports Philadelphia)

(Jordan Hall/NBC Sports Philadelphia)

Just like the big club, the Warriors are at the practice facility competing in their own training camp, featuring 33 veterans and sponsored by Toyota. Marsh, also the director of Flyers alumni and community development, coaches the team.

Prior to the Flyers' preseason game Monday against the Islanders, the Flyers Warriors will play the Pittsburgh Warriors in an exhibition contest at the Wells Fargo Center, free for all fans to attend. Puck drop is set for 2:30 p.m. and Flyers PA announcer Lou Nolan will announce the game. The Warriors will then compete in the USA Hockey Warrior Classic in Las Vegas, Nevada, next month.

"Thank you for your service and thank you for embracing this opportunity," Marsh said to the Warriors team at Saturday's press conference. "It's been wonderful to work with you guys and the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team is very proud to be associated with you guys."

And Marsh added: 

"Rick, thank you for making that first phone call — awesome."

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