Flyers

Steve Mason open to re-signing with Flyers, but doesn't want platoon role

Steve Mason open to re-signing with Flyers, but doesn't want platoon role

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Steve Mason had his exit interview with Ron Hextall on Tuesday afternoon.

Hextall made no commitment on whether his goaltender will be back next fall.

"They are well aware of where I stand, they have to make their choice," Mason said at the team's breakup day at Flyers Skate Zone. "Hexy kind of left it as we're not closing the door. They have to figure some things out.

"Whatever those things are, I'm not aware of. I just told Hexy, 'Do me the favor and make the decision as soon as possible,' because I have other things to take care of. A house and moving things."

Every previous indication from the Flyers was they are parting ways with Mason, who picked up his 200th career win against Columbus over the final weekend of the season.

Mason, however, made it fairly clear to the Flyers' general manager that goalie platooning doesn't work and if coach Dave Hakstol wants to continue platooning, then he wants no part of coming back to the Flyers.

Mason said how Hakstol used him at the end -- as the Flyers' defined No. 1 -- saw him produce some of his best net play in his career. The season began as a platoon situation between Mason and Michal Neuvirth.

Over his final 17 starts, Mason was 10-5-2 with a 2.14 goals-against average, .926 save percentage and two shutouts.

His first half was harmed by a left hand injury, which he admitted lingered into January and that he had a stretch of games in which he got worn down -- playing all through December right into the All-Star break -- before Neuvirth got the net and No. 1 (more on Neuvirth here).

"Coming into the season, with Neuvy getting the nod as the No. 1 guy, then fine, you just need to have ... for both of our sakes, you need to have defined roles," Mason said.

In training camp, Hextall said that having Mason and Neuvirth was like having two No. 1 goalies and it was a position of "strength" on the team. Mason said the mini-competition this season -- both were vying for contract renewals -- was flawed.

"Doesn't work," Mason said. "And it's shown throughout the league, it doesn't work. Tampa got rid of their situation. St. Louis got rid of their situation. It's got nothing to do with Neuvy and I as people. I've got no issues with Neuvy. It doesn't work for the goaltending position."

Others would suggest it's a mental thing. Mason showed during his four seasons here that he's a better goalie when he's not looking over his shoulder and knows it's his net.

"It's not mentality, it's the way the position is played," Mason said. "You can't be in and out, in and out. You have to have the flow. I believe, given that flow, I've done well with it.

"Every single team needs a defined starter and backup goalie. Just having that clarity would have simplified it a lot. At the end of the season, having that clarity, the results showed."

Mason's insecurity about the rotation is likely something that the organization feels is a character weakness and goes to mental strength in overcoming such.

Mason said Hakstol agreed with him that once he found the "clarity" of knowing he was No. 1, things worked out better overall for the club.

Asked whether he sensed Hextall might be more flexible to the idea of eliminating a goalie platoon moving forward, Mason said the proof is there for Hextall to see.

"It's a better question for him," Mason said. "I don't believe it's an effective way. I don't think it would work out. I think he probably is [open to the idea]. He's seen the results this year. They weren't what we wanted or what we needed."

Mason said he never "thought it would come down to this," on whether he would be re-signed. He said he envisioned "a number of years here and not having to answer these questions."

"I was looking forward to being here a few more years," he said.

As for working with Anthony Stolarz at the end, Mason said they had a "great working relationship" and felt he had helped him this season.

"If there's a scenario next year where it's Stolie and myself, I would enjoy working with him," Mason said.

Flyers Talk podcast: Is this team convincing us in round robin of NHL playoffs?

Flyers Talk podcast: Is this team convincing us in round robin of NHL playoffs?

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra and Jordan Hall discuss the team's climb in the round robin.

From the Flyers' best line to what's ahead, let's dive in:

1:00 — Exciting times for Flyers fans

5:55 — Who has been the most impressive on the second line?

11:55 — Something we've noticed with the Flyers' first-line production

16:05 — Has this two-game stretch convinced us if we weren’t convinced already?

22:10 — What did we think of James van Riemsdyk being scratched? Big deal or no?

27:50 — Speaking of lineups, would we keep the same D pairs vs. the Lightning?

 33:00 — What we like and dislike about the Lightning matchup

 40:00 — The matchup could do a ton for Carter Hart's confidence

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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.

More on the Flyers

Jakub Voracek out, James van Riemsdyk back and more changes as Flyers aim to win round robin

Jakub Voracek out, James van Riemsdyk back and more changes as Flyers aim to win round robin

With the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed up for grabs Saturday, the Flyers' No. 1 line will look differently and the reason for why is unknown.

What we do know is Jakub Voracek will not play in the Flyers' round-robin finale against the Lightning at Scotiabank Arena.

"He's not available," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Friday in a video interview, "that's all I can say for tomorrow."

As we learned during training camp when Voracek was absent from a scrimmage, there will be various levels of weirdness, uncertainty and inevitable speculation when a player is unavailable. Because of a mutual agreement between the NHL and NHLPA to respect an individual player's right to medical privacy during this time, clubs are not allowed to release specifications for any injuries/illnesses in the return-to-play 24-team tournament.

Naturally, time will tell about the severity of or length of time needed to return for Voracek's undisclosed absence.

Regardless, not having Voracek hurts the Flyers' chances to win the round robin. If the Flyers beat Tampa Bay, they'll secure the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed in the first round of the playoffs, which is slated to begin next Tuesday. If the Flyers lose to the Lightning, they'll settle for the No. 2 seed. The team has won its first two round-robin games by a combined score of 7-2 over the Bruins and Capitals.

Update: What Flyers fans need to know for round-robin finale, 1st-round matchups

When the Flyers started rolling in November of the regular season, Voracek was one of the club's best players. Since Nov. 1, the facilitating winger had 47 points (eight goals, 39 assists) and a plus-14 rating in 58 games. He finished the regular season with a team-best 44 helpers, 56 points and a plus-14 mark in 69 games.

"Jake's got a unique skill set, a veteran guy that's been around and has played in some big games," Matt Niskanen said Friday in a video interview. "We'll welcome him when he comes back. In the meantime, keep chugging forward with the guys we have."

The Flyers will chug forward with 20-year-old rookie winger Joel Farabee climbing to an exciting spot in the lineup. He'll play on the first line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, while James van Riemsdyk will return to the lineup after being interestingly scratched for the Flyers' 3-1 win Thursday over the Capitals. Connor Bunnaman, a 22-year-old forward who will likely be an extra come the first round if the Flyers are healthy, played in van Riemsdyk's place.

"It was less about benching James than looking at the big picture," Vigneault said. "Yes, James had been OK, just OK so far, after having in my estimation a real strong training camp. But I wanted to get Joel in, I also wanted to get Bunny in at some point, and I felt with the opposition, that it was the right time. Probably less to do with benching, more to do with the big picture."

The 31-year-old van Riemsdyk will join the third line. Vigneault is known to communicate with his players when they're taken out of the lineup or there's a notable change. The two-time 30-goal scorer wouldn't disclose the message between the player and coach, but van Riemsdyk was positive Friday, taking everything in stride.

“With those types of conversations, generally like to keep those in-house," van Riemsdyk said.

“For me, I look back at my career and playing in the playoffs and all these things, I’ve had success doing that in the past. My approach is going to stay the same and try to be the best player I can be and maximize every day. That’s always the way I approach things no matter what, I love the game. We have a great team and have a great shot this year, so my motivation and approach remains consistent day in and day out. No matter if you have a day that doesn’t go your way or if you have a day where things are going well, you go to the next day and you have to do it all over again.”

On the defensive side of things, Shayne Gostisbehere will draw into the lineup for Robert Hagg. Vigneault and his coaching staff had wanted to get Gostisbehere some action in the round robin. They trust the 27-year-old defenseman who could give a boost to the Flyers' power play, which is 0 for 8 through the round robin. Expect to see Hagg back with Justin Braun when the first round begins.

Here is the Flyers' lineup for Saturday's round-robin finale:

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Derek Grant-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Connor Bunnaman-Nate Thompson-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

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