Flyers

Jakub Voracek lashes out at Bill Daly, Gary Bettman over Olympic indecision

Jakub Voracek lashes out at Bill Daly, Gary Bettman over Olympic indecision

TORONTO -- Commissioner Gary Bettman's stance on the NHL participation, or lack thereof, in the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea hasn't changed one iota and at least one Flyer -- Jakub Voracek -- remains upset.

"It's stupid and I find it absolutely ridiculous," said Voracek, who represented the Czech Republic at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

But during this week's NHL general manager meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, Bettman didn't provide any kind of update that would have made Voracek feel any better about the situation.

"There's absolutely nothing new," Bettman told reporters.
 
"And I think the overwhelming sentiment of the teams is that it's very disruptive on the season and there's somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject."
 
There remains a strong consensus among players throughout the league to attend the Winter Games, regardless of the logistical issues and time differences for broadcasts of games from Pyeongchang, South Korea.
 
"Unless something changes, we're not going," deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Canadian Press. "We've said that consistently for three months, so there's nothing new about that."
 
That comment, in particular, angered Voracek, who spoke to CSNPhilly.com during Thursday's morning skate hours before the Flyers' 4-2 defeat in Toronto.
 
"Absolutely ridiculous," Voracek said. "We have it once every four years. I read something that Bill Daly said we're not going. Nobody wants you to go.
 
"The players want to go. Why are you saying you're not going? You're not part of the players' association. ... Nobody wants you there. They want the players."
 
Bettman said the NHL is already putting together its schedule for next season and it doesn’t include an Olympic break.
 
Interestingly, Bettman did say that the league has strong interest in the 2022 Games in China, mentioning that those Games present the NHL with some strong business opportunities and partnerships.
 
"It's the Olympics," Voracek said. "It's not just about business. You want to be part of the Olympics. And trust me, players want to go. And the players who don't go get a week off to recharge their batteries. If you have bumps and bruises, you can heal and recover.
 
"The players want to go, I guarantee you that. I want to see how you are going to hold (Alex) Ovechkin back. The Russian players. Tell them they can't go."
 
While the NHL consistently harps on shutting down for up to 17 days, it hasn't stopped the league from going to the previous five Olympics.
 
One more thing -- that Bettman hasn't said flat-out that it's over means there is still time to salvage NHL participation.
 
After all, everything in life is negotiable.

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

Chuck Fletcher was brought in because things weren't going well enough and quickly enough for the Flyers.

The predicament he inherited required eventual change.

After all, sitting alongside team president Paul Holmgren back in November, Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott said the Flyers were eyeing a general manager with a "bias for action," among other qualities.

With time and evaluation, Fletcher has begun providing the desired action.

A new head coach is on board, bringing extensive experience and outside perspective, while two new assistants with strong pedigrees have been hired.

But perhaps the most influential part in shifting the Flyers' course has remained mostly intact: the roster. That could drastically change this upcoming offseason with free agency and potential trades. However, Fletcher, facing his first offseason as the Flyers' GM, doesn't see an exodus needed with the current roster — or at least not yet.

"The Flyers are a great opportunity. You guys are in this market, for me coming in from the outside, I know when Paul Holmgren approached me about being the general manager of the Flyers, I'm like, 'Wow.' This is a premium job in the National Hockey League and we're set up where we should have an opportunity to get better quickly," Fletcher said April 18. "I know we need more good players, but we have a lot of good players. It's not like you have to gut this thing — we have cap space, we have picks. We have really good staff, really good staff. On the scouting and management side, I've added one person, I haven't subtracted anything. There's a good group here and we have the ability to get better quickly if we all do our job."

Therein lies a poignant and undeniable pressure on Fletcher in Year 1 with the Flyers under Alain Vigneault's watch.

Aside from Wayne Simmonds, who became an inevitable piece to move given the circumstances, the Flyers' core has survived. So, too, has the overall makeup of the roster.

Fletcher, Vigneault and the Flyers believe this team can win with a refined system and different guidance. They don't exactly see a team that has missed the playoffs every other season since 2012-13, a stretch consisting of three first-round exits.

Will Fletcher add this summer? Of course — the ability to do so is one of the reasons why Vigneault found the Flyers as an attractive destination. When Fletcher was hiring Vigneault, the two established a list of areas in which the Flyers can improve.

"We're looking at some options and if we can put the right things in place," Vigneault said at his introduction, "it's going to be a lot of fun."

Significant subtraction was not featured on the list.

"There's some solid youth with a lot of upside here that is coming into its own," Vigneault said. "There's great goaltending, being one of those youth pieces. There's a solid core group that, in my mind, needs the right direction. And you've got the combination, also, of some solid veteran players that have been in the league a few years, that can still contribute at a high level in this league. … After discussing it with a lot of people that I respect their opinion in the NHL, I feel that the Flyers are a very good team that with the proper direction, proper mindset, proper culture and people working together, will be a very good team in the near future."

That's why Year 1 will be so telling.

Vigneault is a coach with a tremendous track record of winning during his first season on the job. He did so at three separate stops (see story). Michel Therrien has 38 postseason victories under his belt as a head coach and took a team to the Stanley Cup Final. Mike Yeo owns three playoff series victories as a head coach and has a ring as an assistant.

If this group can't produce the results with the Flyers' roster, Fletcher will have to take a longer, much more serious look at the players in place and make his hardest decisions yet.

At that point, it may be the only action left.

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: More drama ahead for Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final?

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: More drama ahead for Sharks-Blues Western Conference Final?

There has been a ton of drama only three games into the Western Conference Final between the Sharks and Blues.

Game 3 was won by the Sharks, 5-4, in overtime, but not without controversy. San Jose may have gotten away with a hand pass on the game-winning goal.

The series will shift one way or the other Friday night with Game 4.

Below is the schedule for Day 37 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC. 

San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues (SJS 2-1)
Game 4, Western Conference Final
8 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here