Flyers

Why James van Riemsdyk could be Flyers' most important player in 2019-20 (and not for his goal-scoring)

Why James van Riemsdyk could be Flyers' most important player in 2019-20 (and not for his goal-scoring)

When James van Riemsdyk hit the free-agent market last summer, he had just scored a career-high 36 goals and was considered the second-biggest commodity to only John Tavares.

Signing with the Flyers presented a variety of selling points.

Five years, $35 million certainly whet the appetite.

Returning to the organization that drafted him second overall in 2007 was intriguing.

Being back near his hometown of Middletown, New Jersey, held special meaning.

But just as important as all those factors was this: He loved the Flyers' youth.

And still does, despite Year 1 of the reunion falling well short of expectations with a season marred by another slow start, inconsistency and dramatic change.

"That's the beauty of having young guys, we have guys that haven't hit their best hockey yet," van Riemsdyk said April 6 following the Flyers' season-finale loss. "We have a lot of high-end players, too. Everyone's got to be hungry going into the summer. It's not just a time to put your feet up, that's when you make your big strides as a player. You identify things you want to work on and you attack them."

There's excitement about what a healthy and comfortable van Riemsdyk can do for the Flyers throughout a full season in 2019-20 (see story).

However, he may be the Flyers' biggest difference-maker for a separate reason.

The very same youngsters that attracted van Riemsdyk to Philadelphia should attract to the 30-year-old. A proper word to describe van Riemsdyk is professional. He's enjoyed consistent success because of a complete and workmanlike approach that translates into results. 

In each of his last five full seasons, he's scored at least 27 goals. He's netted 30 or more twice. He scored 29 in 2016-17 and would have had over 30 this season if not for an injury that cost him 16 games. So he's awfully close to four 30-goal seasons by the age of 30 and he's played in 59 postseason games.

Sean Couturier is the only other Flyer with two 30-goal seasons and only Claude Giroux has appeared in more playoff games (69).

His young, impressionable teammates — Nolan Patrick (20 years old), Travis Konecny (22) and Oskar Lindblom (22), to name a few among the forwards — can learn from van Riemsdyk.

For the Flyers to have the bounce-back year they want next season, they'll need significant strides from their younger players — in other words, more consistency.

Carter Hart, who was lauded for his maturity entering the pros, took after van Riemsdyk to help with his NHL transition at 20 years old.

"JVR has been a real big help," Hart said in April. "He really pays attention to that side of the game and he's talked to me a little about his approach with the off-ice nutrition and sleep habits and all of his little things that he talks about. He's really helped me just open my eyes to his approach with the off-ice and nutrition and sleep habits, making sure that he's taking care of his body. He's always one of the first guys in the gym and he's always taking care of his body and doing the right thing. It's pretty cool for him to talk to me about that, and it has really opened my eyes."

Van Riemsdyk isn't the guy to get in your face and force-feed you tips on how to be better because he doesn't toot his own horn. But by watching him, by seeking him out, the Flyers can capitalize on more than just his goal production.

"It's something you can't fake, you can't just come in and be a guy who's rah-rah, do it my way, do it this way," van Riemsdyk said. "You've got to live it every day. I love what I do and I love trying to be the best I can be, try to be a good professional, just find an edge to keep improving and improving every single year that I can. You can't really come in Day 1 and beat your chest and say stuff. You remember being in some of the shoes of the young players not so long ago."

What did he do in those shoes?

"I remember just being a sponge in those situations where you're kind of watching and listening probably twice as much as you're saying anything," van Riemsdyk said. "Just kind of seeing the different things guys do to be successful and prepare to play at the best of their abilities every night.

"Just try to prepare the best I can. Be a good pro and set a good example in that respect. As you develop better relationships with guys — that just doesn't happen overnight — but as you develop those relationships with guys, you develop that trust where we can all learn different things from each other."

It could go a long way in the Flyers' 2019-20 aspirations. And it shouldn't require van Riemsdyk to beat his chest, either.

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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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Catching up on Carter Hart in live stream, teammates troll in the comments

Catching up on Carter Hart in live stream, teammates troll in the comments

With the season on hold, many of the Flyers have gone back to their hometowns for the time being, until they receive word about what the next step will be for the NHL.

That gave Carter Hart the chance to check in with NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes on Friday night during an Instagram live. There, they talked about a wide range of things, including hobbies, an ugly suit trip and Hart even had a few teammates crash the chat room.

There’s a lot of extra time on the players’ hands right now, so what has Hart been up to? Mostly playing guitar and a lot of NBA2K.

He plays both electric and acoustic guitar, but it’s still a work in progress.

“I just wanted to get into something a little different,” Hart said. “I thought guitar would be the easiest thing to try and pick up, but it’s pretty hard.” 

And with the mention of the NBA, of course Weekes had to check in and see who Hart had been rooting for leading up to the season on pause. Obviously, many in Canada cheer for the Raptors but now that he’s playing in Philadelphia? 

“Living in Philly now, I've got to cheer for the Sixers,” Hart said.

Smart answer from the 21-year-old. And he certainly nailed the dynamic of the fans that he loves playing in front of. 

“If we’re sucking, they’re going to let us know,” Hart joked. “But if we’re winning, they’re behind us.”

Then a conversation that originally stemmed from pizza turned into Hart breaking down a roast session about him from his teammates. Apparently, the team had an ugly suit trip when it was off to Columbus — something that we’ll definitely need to do more research on — but Hart has only a handful of suits on the regular rotation. 

“I only have three suits,” Hart said. “I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to wear this,’ and I show up to the plane and everyone was like, ‘That’s the suit you wear all of the time.’

“I was like, ‘Wow, what do you want from me? You guys hate it anyways.’” 

Of course, it’s all in good fun … at least we hope. 

And soon enough, his buddies crashed the chat. About 75 percent through the stream, Nolan Patrick joined the party and started to have some fun in the comment section.  It wasn’t long before the captain Claude Giroux tuned in as well, coaching the young goalie of how to get to his end point when talking in an interview. Always looking out for the kiddo. Former teammate Dale Weise even joined the chat party, so naturally him and Patrick were joking around. 



It’s safe to say these guys certainly miss seeing each other daily. Hopefully we’ll get more live streams in the near future. 

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