Flyers

NHL Notes: Vegas Golden Knights hire Gerard Gallant as first head coach

NHL Notes: Vegas Golden Knights hire Gerard Gallant as first head coach

LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights have hired Gerard Gallant as the first coach of the NHL expansion team.

General manager George McPhee announced the move Thursday.

Gallant helped revive the Florida Panthers, leading them to a first-place finish in the Atlantic Division last season and becoming a coach-of-the-year finalist. He was let go last November after just 22 games as the team stumbled to a slow start.

Gallant was a standout left wing as a player, primarily for the Detroit Red Wings -- scoring at least 34 goals in four straight seasons from 1986 through 1990 and finishing his NHL career with 211 goals in 615 games. He later was a head coach in Columbus and an assistant in Montreal, among other stops.

The franchise will get its first 30 players through the expansion draft in June. The Golden Knights begin play next season (see full story).

Stars bring back Hitchcock as head coach 
DALLAS -- Ken Hitchcock is back as coach of the Dallas Stars, more than 15 years after being fired by the team he took to its only Stanley Cup championship.

Hitchcock was re-introduced in Dallas on Thursday, less than a week after the Stars ended their season without making the playoffs.

Lindy Ruff's four-year contract expired at the end of the season and wasn't extended.

When Dallas fired Hitchcock in January 2002, he had won 277 of his 503 games over parts of seven seasons in his first NHL head-coaching job. He led the Stars to five straight division titles, with consecutive Western Conference championships in 1999 and 2000. They won the Stanley Cup in 1999 and went again in 2000, the only times Hitchcock or the Stars have played in the Stanley Cup Final.

The 65-year-old Hitchcock had since coached the Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis. The Blues abruptly fired Hitchcock on Feb. 1, cutting short what was already going to be his last season with the Blues (see full story).

Fleury to remain in net for Penguins in Game 2
PITTSBURGH -- Marc-Andre Fleury will remain in net for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of their playoff series against Columbus while Matt Murray deals with a lower-body injury.

Murray was scheduled to start Game 1 but left after suffering a lower-body injury in warm-ups. Fleury came on and made 31 saves as the Penguins cruised to a 3-1 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan offered no public update of Murray's status on Thursday, saying only there's no timetable for Murray's return.

Murray helped Pittsburgh to the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup as a rookie last spring and had taken over the No. 1 spot from Fleury this season.

Fleury's appearance on Friday will be his 102nd in the playoffs, a franchise record for a goaltender.

Trade talks or contract talks? Right now, doesn't sound like Wayne Simmonds is going anywhere

Trade talks or contract talks? Right now, doesn't sound like Wayne Simmonds is going anywhere

Last year it was Brayden Schenn who was dealt on draft night. 

Could this year be Wayne Simmonds?

According to a report Tuesday by Michael Russo of The Athletic, the Flyers are gearing to potentially trade Simmonds. Russo’s report mentions the Flyers as one of 15 different teams the Minnesota Wild could possibly swing a deal with under new general manager Paul Fenton.

While the speculation comes as little surprise, general manager Ron Hextall said last week immediately following his pre-draft press conference that he expects to have preliminary discussions with Simmonds' agent regarding a contract extension.

“Yeah, we’ll talk at some point,” Hextall said. “We had pro meetings, the week before was four days of amateur meetings. Combine before that. It’s a real busy time. That gets pushed back to later.”

Hextall certainly didn’t make it sound as if he’s gearing up to deal Simmonds this weekend, and he typically doesn’t resort to smoke screens as a way of misleading reporters. 

The Flyers' power forward has been a regular in Voorhees, New Jersey, throughout his rehab following surgery to repair a tear in his pelvis area. Hextall feels Simmonds is already on track to be 100 percent for training camp and anticipates a monster season from the 29-year-old right winger as he not only enters the final year of his contract but is also out to prove that last season was a fluke.

“I’ll be honest with you, Simmer’s a fast-twitch muscle guy, I don’t have any concern with him,” Hextall said. “I saw him [Thursday] morning, he’s gonna work his way, he’s with [team director of sports medicine Jim McCrossin]. He’s got great guidance. ... I have the expectation for Simmer to come back and be as good as new.”

Last year, Hextall mentioned he had not anticipated trading Schenn until the deal with St. Louis was pieced together on draft night. Something similar could also happen with Simmonds, who has a limited no-trade clause in his current contract, which allows him to submit a no-trade list of 12 teams. 

All of which leaves you wondering whether a big deal goes down in Big D.

More on the Flyers

What should the Flyers do with Simmonds?

• Simmonds played with more injuries than he can remember

• Hextall doesn't plan on trading up in draft, but ...

• How much will Flyers change? That's Hextall's challenge

Colin McDonald staying in Flyers' system, re-signs with Phantoms

usa_colin_mcdonald_flyers.jpg
USA Today Images

Colin McDonald staying in Flyers' system, re-signs with Phantoms

Every team wants an insurance policy with NHL experience at the AHL level.

The Flyers will have that again in Colin McDonald.

Lehigh Valley signed the right winger to an AHL contract Tuesday afternoon, bringing back the captain for a fourth season with the Phantoms. The team also signed defenseman David Drake, 23, who played seven games for Lehigh Valley last season.

McDonald, who turns 34 years old in September, never reached the Flyers in 2017-18, but played eight games for the big club over the prior two seasons, scoring a pair of goals. He actually appeared in three playoff games during 2015-16 because of injuries to Sean Couturier and Scott Laughton, and a suspension for Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.

In total, McDonald, known for making an impact with his size (6-2/219) and physicality, has 148 games of NHL experience to go with 11 postseason contests.

Last season with the Phantoms, McDonald posted 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 56 regular-season games, before helping Lehigh Valley advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, where it was swept by the Toronto Marlies.

In 2016-17, McDonald had 25 goals and 44 points in 72 regular-season games.

Not only is McDonald a solid safety net for the Flyers, but he also provides a good example for the organization's prospects developing with the Phantoms. He's a likeable, mature pro and has played 628 AHL games over his career, so the franchise's youngsters will be able to rely on him for another season in 2018-19.

More on the Flyers