Flyers

Flyers Hall of Famers return to toast Ed Snider, 50th anniversary

Flyers Hall of Famers return to toast Ed Snider, 50th anniversary

There were times when Rod Brind’Amour didn’t quite feel like a part of the Flyers’ family anymore.

Following eight years rich with memories and victories in a Flyers' jersey, Brind’Amour, a beloved player who changed the franchise on and off the ice, was stunningly traded to the Hurricanes less than a month into the 1999-00 season.

He went on to win two Frank J. Selke trophies (NHL’s best defensive forward) and a Stanley Cup in Carolina before landing an assistant coaching job within the organization.

“You get traded, you automatically think, ‘Well, I’m not what I thought I was,’” Brind’Amour said. “But that wasn’t the case.”

Especially once his phone rang and it was Ed Snider on the other line.

“I got a great phone call before Mr. Snider passed and him telling me what he thought I meant to this team,” Brind’Amour said. “That meant a lot. I really feel connected to the Flyers’ organization again and I’ll take any chance I can to get back and be a part of it.”

A year after being inducted in the Flyers’ Hall of Fame, he was among the orange and black greats on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center to toast the team’s 50th anniversary with Flyers Heritage Night. Snider, the Flyers’ fearless and compassionate founder who died in April, would have been all smiles as a pregame ceremony at center ice honored the legends that played a role in fulfilling his vision.

Fourteen Flyers Hall of Famers were on hand as Bill Barber, Brind’Amour, Bob Clarke, Ron Hextall, Mark Howe, John LeClair, Reggie Leach, Eric Lindros, Bernie Parent, Brian Propp, Dave Poulin, Dave Schultz, Joe Watson and Jim Watson came out one by one. Family members of Snider, Gene Hart, Barry Ashbee, Rick MacLeish, Keith Allen and Joe Scott were also present.

The evening was all about family, just like Snider.

Poulin, who captained the Flyers for parts of six seasons (1984-90) and two Stanley Cup Final appearances (1985, 1987), said these are can’t-miss events to reminisce and remember.

“There’s a lot of demands on your time, a lot of different things, it’s busy for everybody and everybody’s got different things going on in their life, but when this call comes in from Brad Marsh (former Flyers player, team’s current director of community development), you’re marking it on the calendar and you’re coming,” Poulin said during the first intermission of the Flyers’ 5-4 loss to the Coyotes (see Instant Replay). “This is pretty special to be out there with this group tonight.”

Since retiring, Poulin, a 1986-87 Selke winner with the Flyers and two-time NHL All-Star, has coached, worked in front-office roles and is now an analyst for TSN. He’s always around hockey and talking hockey.

Outsiders frequently mention the Flyers, one reason why Poulin calls the organization “unique.”

“Still to this day, I have conversations with people that played a long time in the NHL that are incredibly envious of the Flyers,” Poulin said. “I had one as recently as Monday night. I was at a book signing for Darryl Sittler, who has a new book out, and we were teammates here. And I had a great conversation with Syl Apps Jr., who was an original Pittsburgh Penguin. And the first thing he wanted to say was, ‘What about those Flyers, what about that Philadelphia, what about that?’ Guys that never experienced it from the inside were always envious of what they saw, and to a man.”

Poulin said that’s a testament to Snider.

“It was Ed Snider, it was the continuity of a leader that through 50 years — which is unheard of in any industry, any business, let alone a professional sports team — kept it like it was,” he said. “And then everybody assimilated into that. Everybody became a part of it, everybody understood the importance of it.”

During the tribute, Brind’Amour gave Lindros a big hug, to the surprise of many.

“I haven’t seen him in forever,” Brind’Amour said. “It was just fun, when we got out there we just said, ‘It’s nice to be back on the ice again.’ It’s been a long time, I haven’t seen him. I saw [LeClair] last year obviously. But it’s just nice to catch up with these guys and relive some stories. We had a lot of great times, it was nice to see [Lindros].”

Brind’Amour was asked how so many former Flyers from different eras, with families and separate agendas, make such reunions possible.

He found his answer before the question even finished.

“It’s Philadelphia,” he said. “This means a lot to me. To be honest with you, I was out of it, I was doing my own thing and last year, when they did that whole ceremony for me, it just kind of brought me into the fold, that this is important and that they really did appreciate what I did here.”

And Snider, never forgetting any, made that clear with a phone call.

“I think there was a time there where I just didn’t really think that was the case, so it’s meant a lot to me to be back here and be in the fold,” Brind’Amour said. “I love the alumni. … Any chance to get to reconnect with these guys, it just means the world to me.”

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Tyler Pitlick

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Tyler Pitlick

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at Tyler Pitlick. 

Destra

After earning his first point with the Flyers in the opening game of the season, it took a little bit of time before Pitlick found a rhythm with his new team. Little did anyone know in those opening weeks, that he would soon become a huge asset to the bottom six on the roster. 

Much like the Radko Gudas for Matt Niskanen trade in the offseason, trading Ryan Hartman for Pitlick didn’t seem too significant at the time and created more questions than answers. It turns out, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher knew exactly what he was doing. While there were a handful of rookies like Joel Farabee and Nicolas Aube-Kubel adjusting to the pros, Pitlick added a level of solidification to the bottom lines. He, alongside players like Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl — who are well-known for their steady performance — made each of the Flyers’ four lines weapons. 

Through 63 contests, Pitlick tallied 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) and would be a valuable asset moving forward with the Flyers. 

Let’s give Pitlick a B for an overall solid season. 

Fordyce 

Early in the season, you didn’t notice Pitlick much and while sometimes for a player like Pitlick not hearing his name is a good thing (as it means he’s doing his job), that was not the case for Pitlick in the early going as he struggled. As the season wore on though, Pitlick carved out a nice role for himself with the team and began to flourish.

A simple look at his game log in 2019 shows that Pitlick was a minus player 10 times, but after the calendar changed to 2020, Pitlick had a minus rating only three times. In addition, later in the season Pitlick developed more of an offensive game, chipping in with goals and assists from time to time. After struggling at the start, Pitlick overall turned into a reliable veteran down the stretch. 

He gets a B from me.

Hall

When the Flyers acquired Pitlick last summer, he explained his game:

"I'm a physical, north-skating player. I can score and make plays when I get the chance. I'm going to be physical and I'm going to create energy and compete as hard as I can."

Pitlick was a man of his word. He provided exactly that to the Flyers in the 2019-20 regular season. It's fair to say among the Flyers' other offseason acquisitions — Kevin Hayes, Niskanen and Justin Braun — Pitlick came with the least hype, but he became a pleasant surprise as a consistently effective bottom-six forward.

With each game, you never questioned Pitlick's effort because he was always noticeable by playing his active, north-south style. When you're constantly noticeable in limited minutes, you're doing something right.

Pitlick joined the club with an attractive $1 million cap hit and a contract set to expire this offseason. He then played his way into consideration to be re-signed by the Flyers. Good for him.

A well-earned B+ for Pitlick.

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More Flyers grades

NHL schedule 2020: Qualifying round to begin Aug. 1; Flyers vs. Bruins kicks off round robin Aug. 2

NHL schedule 2020: Qualifying round to begin Aug. 1; Flyers vs. Bruins kicks off round robin Aug. 2

Come Aug. 2, it will have been 145 days since the Flyers last played a game that counted.

If all goes as planned for the NHL, Aug. 2 will be when Flyers hockey officially returns — and when the team will start (or restart) its push for the 2020 Stanley Cup.

On Friday night, the NHL and NHLPA completed the ratification process of the league’s return-to-play plan and four-year CBA extension, setting up for a resumption and conclusion of the 2019-20 season in the anticipated 24-team tournament (see full details and new NHL calendar here). In the announcement, the schedule for the qualifying round/round robin was released.

As we know, the Flyers have a solid outlook in the round-robin tourney as the Eastern Conference's No. 4 seed and with a chance to climb to improve their first-round matchup (see story).

Let's analyze the Flyers' round-robin slate and outline the full Eastern Conference schedule from Aug. 1-9 in Toronto:

No. 4 Flyers vs. No. 1 Bruins, Aug. 2

The Flyers will start things off against the NHL-best Bruins, who were the last team the orange and black played before the suspension of the regular season on March 12 (see story).

Alain Vigneault's club went 2-1-0 in three regular-season matchups with Boston. The Bruins finished the regular season with an NHL-high 100 points and a league-low 2.39 goals allowed per game.

Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, a candidate for the Vezina Trophy, is 15-2-4 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in 22 career games against the Flyers.

Interesting stat from the Flyers' perspective: Carter Hart has four career wins over the Bruins, tied for his most against any NHL club. The 21-year-old is 4-1-0 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in five lifetime matchups vs. Boston.


No. 4 Flyers vs. No. 3 Capitals, Aug. 6

When looking at the regular-season results, this is likely the most favorable matchup for the Flyers in the round robin.

The Flyers went 3-0-1 over four regular-season matchups with the Capitals, outscoring Washington 16-8 and earning a point in all four meetings.

The Capitals are the Capitals, though, a team that scored the NHL's second-most goals per game at 3.42 and has a guy named Alex Ovechkin (he went scoreless against the Flyers during the regular season for the first time in his 15-year career).

Interesting stat from the Flyers' perspective: Washington has the NHL's top power play percentage since 2000 but the Flyers held it to 1 for 17 on the man advantage during the four regular-season matchups.

No. 4 Flyers vs. No. 2 Lightning, Aug. 9

Among the round-robin teams, the second-seeded Lightning were the club that gave the Flyers the most trouble in the regular season. The Flyers dropped two games in regulation to Tampa Bay — albeit one was a 1-0 defeat and the other was a chippy 5-3 loss with an empty-netter during the final 22 seconds (see story).

The Lightning can flat-out score, putting up a league-best 3.47 goals per game.

However, the Flyers hung with Tampa Bay in other statistical categories.

Interesting stat from the Flyers' perspective: The Flyers are 2-6-3 over the last four seasons against the Lightning.

Here's the rest of the East's qualifying round/round robin schedule (team on left signifies "road" team). Per the league Friday night, a complete broadcast schedule will be released in the coming days.


Aug. 1

• No. 11 Rangers vs. No. 6 Hurricanes

• No. 10 Panthers vs. No. 7 Islanders

• No. 12 Canadiens vs. No. 5 Penguins

Aug. 2

• Flyers vs. Bruins

• No. 9 Blue Jackets vs. No. 8 Maple Leafs

Aug. 3

• Capitals vs. Lightning

• No. 11 Rangers vs. No. 6 Hurricanes

• No. 12 Canadiens vs. No. 5 Penguins

Aug. 4

• No. 9 Blue Jackets vs. No. 8 Maple Leafs

• No. 6 Hurricanes vs. No. 11 Rangers

• No. 10 Panthers vs. No. 7 Islanders

Aug. 5

• Lightning vs. Bruins

No. 7 Islanders vs. No. 10 Panthers

• No. 5 Penguins vs. No. 12 Canadiens

Aug. 6

• Capitals vs. Flyers

• No. 8 Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Blue Jackets

• No. 6 Hurricanes vs. No. 11 Rangers (if necessary)

Aug. 7

• No. 8 Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Blue Jackets (if necessary)

No. 7 Islanders vs. No. 10 Panthers (if necessary)

• No. 5 Penguins vs. No. 12 Canadiens (if necessary)

Aug. 8

• Bruins vs. Capitals

• No. 11 Rangers vs. No. 6 Hurricanes (if necessary)

• No. 12 Canadiens vs. No. 5 Penguins (if necessary)

Aug. 9

• Flyers vs. Lightning 

• No. 9 Blue Jackets vs. No. 8 Maple Leafs (if necessary)

• No. 10 Panthers vs. No. 7 Islanders (if necessary)

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