Flyers

Dave Poulin remembers his Flyers teammate and friend Ilkka Sinisalo

Dave Poulin remembers his Flyers teammate and friend Ilkka Sinisalo

Dave Poulin served as the Flyers' captain during five seasons when Ilkka Sinisalo played in Philadelphia.

The 58-year-old Poulin had a special relationship with the Fin because he himself had played in Sweden one season before coming to the Flyers.

Sinisalo died on Wednesday in Finland from prostate cancer.

"I always had a different outlook and understanding for how challenging it was for Europeans playing in a different country," Poulin said.

"I might have had a better rapport with Europeans early on than other guys had because I had sat in a locker room when everyone laughed, and I didn't know what that meant."

Poulin was able to transcend the language barrier.

In Poulin's mind, Sinisalo should never have willingly taken a back seat to some of his more offensive-minded teammates, such as Tim Kerr, Brian Propp, Mark Howe, etc.

Sinisalo was a quiet, unassuming player, who was perfectly content to play in the shadow of others, which Poulin felt was simply wrong.

"He was a much better player than he was ever given credit for and I think he could have been an even greater player," Poulin said. "He had a certain reservation about himself.

"He could have scored 50 goals in this league. He looked at me one day when I told him that and he said, 'And then they will want 60 from me.'”

The NHL was still very Canadian back then. When Europeans came over to North America, they were simply "slotted" into positions on their respective teams. The argument can be made that many of them accepted their roles.

That same argument could have been made for Sinisalo, who suffered a number of injuries during his career and never played a full season.

Poulin disagrees with that assessment.

"He was fine with how he played," he said. "He was the ultimate secondary scorer on a team. He didn’t have to want-to or need-to be in the spotlight. I always felt with players it was more up to the individual. Was it partly their nationality?

"Well, was there any more of a flamboyant scorer in the league than Teemu Selanne? I don’t think there was ever a player in the NHL who liked to score goals more than Selanne."

Indeed, Selanne, the legendary Fin, scored 76 goals his rookie year in Winnipeg (1992-93) and would go to produce 10 seasons of 31 or more goals and seven of 40 or more during his amazing 23 seasons in the NHL.

Because he played in Europe, Poulin had a different relationship with players such as Sinisalo, Thomas Eriksson, Miroslav Dvorak,  Pelle Eklund and Pelle Lindbergh.

"Maybe I went out of my way more with a lot of Europeans, I played with," Poulin said.

It extended off the ice, as well. The Poulin family and Sinisalo family vacationed together in Captiva Island, Florida, for many years.

"When you plan a vacation with a hockey teammate you ask yourself, 'Is this gonna work?'" Poulin said. "It worked because we both had our own vacations, as well."

It also worked because Poulin and Sinisalo were close friends, not just teammates.

NHL schedule 2020: Start times for Flyers vs. Penguins exhibition game, Flyers vs. Bruins round-robin game

NHL schedule 2020: Start times for Flyers vs. Penguins exhibition game, Flyers vs. Bruins round-robin game

Alain Vigneault and his staff have put together a detailed, science-based plan to prepare the Flyers for what could be an unprecedented run at the 2020 Stanley Cup.

They know they have about a month to work with following an abrupt stoppage that spanned four months because of the coronavirus outbreak.

"I believe it’s going to work," the Flyers' head coach said Monday about his team's plan ahead of the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament.

Part of the plan includes an exhibition contest. It also features three interesting round-robin games, which will dictate the Eastern Conference's top-four seeds but can serve as a tune-up of sorts, as well. During the qualifying round, the Flyers will try to improve their seeding and strategize for the first round of the playoffs, which begins Aug. 11.

We've got 30 days to get ready for our first official game on Aug. 11," Vigneault said. "Our group is excited, focused, energized — and we've been waiting a long time here to have this opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup, and we’re going to get it.

"We are going to take this time that we have in front of us here to obviously prepare the team. We’re also going to take the exhibition game and the three games that we're going to play because really, Aug. 11, our first game in the first round for the Stanley Cup Playoffs starts there. I’m going to put on the ice at that time the best lineup that we have.

We now know when and who the Flyers will play in their exhibition game: the Penguins. The NHL also released the start time for the Flyers' round-robin opener against the Bruins.

Here are the details so far, while broadcast information is to be announced on another date:

Flyers vs. Penguins, Tuesday, July 28 — 4 p.m. ET (exhibition)

Flyers vs. Bruins, Sunday, Aug. 2 — 3 p.m. ET (round robin)

Flyers vs. Capitals, Thursday, Aug. 6 — TBD (round robin)

Flyers vs. Lightning, Sunday, Aug. 9 — TBD (round robin)

For analysis on the Flyers' round-robin slate, click here. For the rest of the NHL schedule and start times, click here.

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Flyers Talk podcast: Nolan Patrick, Shayne Gostisbehere updates

Flyers Talk podcast: Nolan Patrick, Shayne Gostisbehere updates

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall discuss all the buzz around the team's training camp roster and round-robin decisions.

From Nolan Patrick's status to another tough break for Shayne Gostisbehere, let's dive in:

1:15 — The Flyers are energized

2:25 — What to make of Patrick's situation

6:23 — Gostisbehere has another procedure on other knee

9:40 — How does Gostisbehere's status impact lineup decisions?

15:25 — Mark Friedman news the latest on the Flyers' position of strength

17:00 — When/will we see Egor Zamula?

21:25 — The Flyers' round-robin strategy

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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