Flyers

Mike Vecchione 'couldn't be happier' to join Flyers

Mike Vecchione 'couldn't be happier' to join Flyers

Mike Vecchione attended last July's Flyers development camp.
 
Forgetting for a moment what his former Union College teammate Shayne Gostisbehere had told him about the organization, Vecchione went into the camp with eyes wide open.
 
He liked what he saw. He remembered what he saw. And that was added reasoning for signing with the Flyers on Friday morning (see story).
 
"In my heart, I felt I had the best opportunity in Philly and I couldn't be happier with how everything turned out," Vecchione said during a conference call.
 
"With the whole Philly organization, I got to meet everyone when I went to development camp, the coaches, Mr. Hextall, the rest of the front office guys, a lot of the players. I just had that experience being around everybody, learning from their systems and learning from guys.
 
"I talked to Ghost. He obviously wanted me to go there, but at the same time, it's what's best for me and my future and it's ultimately my decision."
 
Vecchione is the first top-three finalist from Union College up for the Hobey Baker Award as the top collegian in the country. Gostisbehere was a top-10 finalist only.
 
This is a major step going right from the college ranks to the NHL -- not even "Ghost" was able to bypass the AHL.
 
"Obviously it's a huge jump," Gostisbehere said of his newest teammate. "You can't say it's not. It's totally different. I went right [into] the American League and I thought that was a bit of a jump for me coming right from college.
 
"But Veccs is a different player. He's 24 years old and I think his game's way too mature for the college level. It's going to be cool to see it translate to the professional level."
 
Vecchione made it clear he prefers to play center.
 
"We talked about that a little bit," Vecchione said. "Obviously, I'm a centerman. Four good years at Union and that's where my comfort zone is. When you're in the middle you have a lot more room to make some plays, but obviously, at center, comes a lot more responsibility in the D-zone. Just being responsible in all three zones, actually."

Hextall said he needed to see how things "shake out" during training camp next fall but he is leaning toward center as well, which means Pierre-Edouard Bellemare would move to the wing.
 
Then again, Vecchione didn't totally rule out wing either.
 
"We did talk about my flexibility to play wing," he said. "I played wing a lot in high school and junior hockey and then converted to center as a college guy. I'm really happy that they're gonna put me in at center.
 
"It's that comfort level to stick with what I know best there. I feel like my game is at center, providing offense there and obviously being strong defensively is something that we talked about, so if I'm not providing offense, I can be a good asset defensively and vice versa."
 
Hextall said Vecchione needs at least one practice with the team before playing. It wasn't certain whether he would make Saturday's morning skate.
 
The earliest Vecchione could play would be Sunday night's game in New York against the Rangers, one of the teams who wanted his services.
 
"They want me to come in and play some games," he said. "That wasn't a deciding factor whether I'd get into some games this year or try out and get in some games next year.
 
"I definitely want to get some experience in at the end of this year, get my feet wet, get my feel for everything, figure out the systems that Philly runs and get acclimated to the whole organization and how they operate over there. Hopefully, I can get into some games soon."

The best of Jakub Voracek on his 29th birthday

The best of Jakub Voracek on his 29th birthday

It's Aug. 15, the dog days of summer and hockey is still a few weeks away.

But Jakub Voracek turns 29 years old today and this summer, the winger has already played a big part in helping push the Flyers' process into its next stage by helping recruit James van Riemsdyk back to town (see story).

Voracek is coming off a career-best season at 28 years old, posting 85 points in 82 games in 2017-18. He finished fourth in the NHL with 65 assists and ninth with 35 power-play points.

All of this came after a somewhat disappointing 2016-17 season — 61 points in 82 games, not particularly bad numbers but also not the production you'd like from a player with an $8.25 million cap hit and in Year 1 of an eight-year, $66 million extension.

Last season, though, Voracek proved that he can still very much produce at a top level. Since joining the Flyers in 2011-12, Voracek is third among all wingers with 303 assists and fifth in points with 439. Since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, he's eighth among all skaters with 272 assists and 15th in points with 390.

With today being Voracek's birthday, let's take a look back at some of the best from his time as a Flyer because Voracek is one of the most personable players around.

Some plays

Jan. 27, 2016: Voracek scored the game-winner 38 seconds into overtime. It was an important goal in a big game as the Flyers were in the middle of a wild-card chase (see story).

Oct. 14, 2017: The Flyers put a pounding on the Capitals in an 8-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center. Voracek had three assists. This one was one of them. Poor Madison Bowey.

Jan. 13, 2018: Voracek has also torched other teams than the Capitals. Here is a kick pass to Giroux against the Devils in North Jersey.


Some fights

Voracek is not exactly a fighter. According to hockeyfights.com, he has four official fights during the regular season and all have come with the Flyers.

There was the time he dropped the gloves with Gabriel Landeskog for about 30 seconds in Colorado and then said, "I don't think I picked the right city to fight in."

Then there was the time when he roughed up Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi.


Some singing

Sportswriters aren't the only ones who like Bruce Springsteen. Yes, Voracek is also a fan.


A little charity

On Feb. 28, 2017, against the Avalanche, Voracek was eventually credited with a goal many Flyers fans believed was Wayne Simmonds' hat trick. In fact, 396 hats came pouring down to the ice.

As a gesture for taking a hat trick away from Simmonds, Voracek purchased 396 new Flyers hats and donated them to local hospitals for children battling cancer (see story).

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Flyers will face New York Islanders again in annual rookie game

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Flyers will face New York Islanders again in annual rookie game

While the Flyers have not announced the start of their rookie and training camp, they did provide an indication Tuesday of when the camps will be.

For the third straight season, the Flyers and New York Islanders will square off Sept. 12 in their annual rookie game. This time, it returns to New York.

The game will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12 at the Northwell Health Ice Center, the Islanders' practice facility in East Meadow, New York. According to Newsday's Andrew Gross, ticket proceeds will benefit the Islanders' Children's Foundation.

In years past, the Flyers have streamed the games on their official website.

Last year, the Flyers-Islanders rookie game was on Sept. 13, 2017, two days after rookie camp began and two days before the main camp opened.

The rookie game marks the official end of rookie camp, so by the process of elimination, a safe guess would be the Flyers' rookie camp will be Sept. 10 and training camp likely opening a day or two after the game.

The Islanders beat the Flyers, 4-3, in overtime last September. The Flyers won the first game two years ago. From 2007 to 2014, the Flyers and Capitals faced each other in their annual rookie games.

Rookie games are fun because they're the first glimpse of prospects and with the Flyers, there's a ton to be excited about — even if signing James van Riemsdyk accelerates their process (see story).

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