Steve Mason picks up 'special' win in possible final Flyers start

Steve Mason picks up 'special' win in possible final Flyers start


Steve Mason notched his 200th career win Saturday afternoon with a 4-2 effort against his former team, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The irony there is, this was likely his last game in a Flyers sweater.

He senses it. The Flyers know it.

Did he soak any of that in during play?

"Definitely well aware of it," Mason said. "Moving forward, I have no indication of what is going to be happening. Obviously, one game left in the season and I become a free agent. Leading into summertime, it will be uneasy and exciting and stressful time, for sure."

This was a rare occasion where the Flyers enjoyed an early lead on Sergei Bobrovsky while scoring their most goals this season against him, as well (see Instant Replay).

Mason termed the milestone "special." He has played 231 games here with a Flyers record of 104-78-36.

"I remember my first year, it was Michael Peca who said to me, to enjoy it because it goes by quickly," Mason said. "I was 20 years old. He was right.

"It goes by quick. I've fortunate to play with a lot of teammates I consider friends. Two hundred wins is a team stat. The goaltender is the one who has that on his record."

Mason had 20 saves in the victory, the first one in four tries against Bobrovsky this season. Anthony Stolarz is expected to play in Sunday's season finale against Carolina.

Mason has been here four full seasons plus seven games. Biggest regret if he leaves?

"Never experiencing a playoff beyond the first round," Mason said. "We came so close my first full year here and I really believe had we gotten past the Rangers in the first round, which we were so close to doing, then we had a team that was confident, scoring goals … it was something that would have been better to have."

He said he hoped there would be opportunities this offseason for further employment.

"I'll be stressed out if there won't," he said with a laugh. "The ball is my court, which is a little different feeling than the trade deadline, where my fate was in the organization's hands."

While his play has not been consistent, his outspoken candor after games has. It's something that endeared him with the media -- blunt, objective post-game critique -- but didn't endear himself to some teammates.

Saturday, he was voted the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Memorial Award by the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

This award is presented annually to the Flyer who best illustrates character, dignity and respect for the sport both on and off the ice and is cooperative with the media.

Mason admitted his outspokenness might not have gone over well with everyone during his time here.

"When I speak after games, it's never anything personal," he said. "I hold myself accountable for everything. From my personal standpoint, I believe I step up and take the blame sometimes …

"Maybe sometimes I should choose my words more clearly, but it is never anything personal with the guys. I think they understand that. It's just that I care and want to have success with this organization."

Some players have grumbled on the side. Some feel that's the role of the team captain or select skaters in the leadership group -- not the goaltender.

Ron Hextall was blunt after games, too, but he was here a very long time, enjoyed a lot of success and earned the right to air his opinions.

"Nobody has ever said anything to me in terms of that," Mason said. "Hopefully, it hasn't rubbed guys the wrong way. It's holding guys to high standards, which I think is important.

"Maybe it's better I chose my words more carefully so not to offend anyone, but at the end of the day, guys in the room understand I speak out of caring."

Wayne Simmonds has been vocal -- on and off the ice. He often does the arguing on the ice with the officials instead of captain Claude Giroux.

Simmonds seldom holds back after games, too.

"I don't think it's a problem," Simmonds said in regards to Mason. "For myself, I am going to say what I feel like saying. If I mean it, and say it, I mean it. I guess you can classify Mase the same way. If he had something to say, he said it and wasn't shy about it.

"I don't have too big a problem with Mase. It is what it is. Guys are allowed to voice their opinions. If you feel something, it's going to come off your chest sooner or later."

Simmonds first played with Mason on Team Canada at age 19.

"I don't know if it's Mase's last game … it's been 3 1/2 or four years now and I have nothing but good memories," Simmonds said. "That's what I have to say."

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol had a brief response when asked about his goaltender's opinions.

"My teams, my experience, you always put the team first and speak from that experience," Hakstol said.

"No matter what position that you play. For our group, team-first mentality is absolute and it's very important."

Flyers re-sign restricted free agent Anthony Stolarz

Flyers re-sign restricted free agent Anthony Stolarz

General manager Ron Hextall is nearly finished wrapping up contracts for his restricted free agents.

And his goalie picture is now clear for 2018-19.

The Flyers on Wednesday re-signed netminder Anthony Stolarz to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is worth $761,250, according to a report by hockey writer John Hoven.

With Stolarz back, defenseman Robert Hagg remains the Flyers' lone restricted free agent.

Stolarz, a 2012 second-round pick, underwent a nightmarish 2017-18 season just a year after he made his NHL debut and performed well in seven games with the Flyers. The 24-year-old tore the meniscus in his left knee during early September, the same injury he suffered at the end of 2016-17 with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

He played in just one AHL game and three ECHL contests as a result. In 2016-17, he made his way to the big club and put up a 2.07 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in a small sample. Then the injury occurred with the Phantoms and it's been an uphill battle ever since for the 6-foot-6, 210-pounder.

Stolarz will have his work cut out for him — if he hasn't already — as playing time will be earned at Lehigh Valley with Alex Lyon back in the fold and Carter Hart joining them.

"It's just competition. No one is going to go in there and hand you a job, so you have to earn it,” Stolarz said in June after an on-ice workout at Flyers Skate Zone. "I think the thing for me is to prove I'm healthy. I don't think I've skated since the end of January. I had the one flare up before one of my games and it had nothing to do with my knee injury. It was a separate injury. I think the biggest thing is proving I'm healthy and going out there and working to prove I'm still a high-caliber goalie."

The Flyers' goaltending tandem is set with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, both of whom are in the final year of their contracts. Things obviously can change this offseason, as Neuvirth and Stolarz seemed like realistic trade candidates.

But as of now, it's Elliott and Neuvirth with the younger trio pushing and competing.

"I'd rather have too many goalies than too few," Hextall said earlier this month. "If something makes sense and we can make something happen, we'd at least look at it. We saw it last year. All of a sudden, a couple goalies go down and you're scrambling for goalies. If we start with five, we start with five. Not a perfect situation, but again, I'd rather start with five than with three."

More on the Flyers' goalies

• Following 'gloomy' time, what's next for Elliott?

• Why Neuvirth's NHL career hinges on this offseason

• Hart says so long to Twitter, hello to pro life

• No arbitration needed for Flyers and Lyon

• Sandstrom hungry to prove he's not the 'other' goalie

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery died Sunday morning. First responders pulled his body out of Hamilton Harbour, where he had been swimming with friends. An investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing. 

Emery was 35.

According to local authorities, Emery was checking out a friend’s boat docked at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club when the group he was with decided to jump in the water around 6:30 a.m. Emery’s body never surfaced and was eventually recovered around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Hamilton police say Emery’s body was recovered in close proximity to where he was last seen.

Emery was last seen publicly with a handful of his former teammates Saturday night as the goaltender participated in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game in Hamilton. Emery can be seen standing during the playing of “O Canada.”

"The Philadelphia Flyers are stunned and extremely saddened to hear of the tragic passing of former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery," president Paul Holmgren said in a statement from the team. "Ray was an outstanding teammate and an extremely gifted goaltender. He had exceptional athleticism, was a fierce competitor and battled in every game he played with the Flyers.

"His performances through the 2009-10 season were a very big part of the team's success in making the playoffs and reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Ray's talent, work ethic and determination helped him enjoy a successful 11-year NHL career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

Several of Emery’s former teammates over the years offered their condolences via Twitter after learning of the tragedy.

Former Flyer Daniel Carcillo shared the he was crushed by the news (NSFW).

Jakub Voracek also shared his condolences (NSFW).

Emery joined the Flyers in June 2009 on a one-year contract, shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in his Flyers debut. The goaltender’s first stint in Philadelphia was cut short when he suffered a muscle tear in his abdomen in December missing the remainder of the season. Emery was later diagnosed with avascular necrosis — a degenerative condition to the bone tissue in his hip.

After undergoing successful surgery, Emery eventually joined the Ducks before winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. Impressively, Emery finished the regular season with a 17-1-0 record. He re-signed with the Flyers that summer as a backup to Steve Mason.

Emery’s most infamous moment in Philadelphia came during an ugly 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on November 1, 2013, as the Flyers netminder pummeled Caps goalie Braden Holtby during a line brawl in the early stages of the third period.

Emery faced criminal charges over a handful of off-the-ice incidents and altercations. Most recently, he was arrested for assault with a weapon in 2017 against former fiancé Keshia Chanté. 

Emery played a total of 287 NHL games, 88 with the Flyers.