Easily the most detested, scathed and ridiculed player the Flyers have faced since 2005, Sidney Crosby has played the part of shining white knight to Philadelphia’s dark side bullies with perfection.
With his nice-boy image and his sparkling reputation around the league, the 24-year-old is everything the Flyers aren’t. As the poster-child for the new NHL, he is the Flyers’ antithesis. He is their most recognizable nemesis.
So when the news broke on Monday that Crosby’s concussion symptoms have continued to haunt him and that he might not be cleared to participate by the start of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ training camp, it isn’t just the NHL and the Penguins who should groan, Flyers fans should be there too.
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When forward Steve Downie was traded to Tampa Bay early last offseason for defenseman Matt Carle, many believed it to be a sign that the Flyers’ organization had finally given up on dealing with his disciplinary issues on and off the ice. But after a year in Tampa Bay, a newly reformed Downie is starting to see the results of a more mature attitude.
“My goal was to be in the best physical shape and the best possible situation for me. I’ve done that,” said Downie, who benefited greatly from a summer conditioning program. “I’m just going to let things take care of itself. It’s not my job to worry about where I’m going to play or what my role is going to be. I’m just here to work on my game and get better. I end up where I end up.”
When the Rangers acquired sniper Marian Gaborik this past offseason for 5-years, $7.5 million, many critics noted that if the highly talented, but fragile player could only hack an average of 50 games a season with Minnesota, there was little chance he’d suddenly become durable in New York. And so far they were right.
Gaborik, looked on to be the offensive catalyst for the Rangers in 2009-10, was held out of physical testing on the opening day of training camp because of soreness due to pre-camp light skating.
“We just want to be careful, he’s a little tender,” said Rangers’ coach John Tortorella. “He was skating the other day, he’s just a little sore from that. We don’t want to do anything stupid.”
Gaborik needed serious hip surgery last season which only allowed him to play 17 games.
VOORHEES — 20-year old Kevin Marshall has seen himself quickly rise to the top of the organization’s prospect ranks since being selected by the Flyers 41st overall in the 2007 draft. The gritty stay-at-home blue liner is armed with a plethora of attractive weapons, including excellent vision, good skating and a nose for physical contact. But one the Quebec native’s most attractive qualities helped come from the advice of Hall of Famer and Quebec Rampart head coach Patrick Roy.
“Roy wanted me to improve on my leadership,” said Marshall, who was given the captaincy of the Ramparts right away in 2008-09. “He taught me that being a captain is all about work ethic and always being enthusiastic. He gave me some good tips that helped me really improve in that aspect.”
As I first reported on my Twitter (@philabright), the Flyers have signed forward Blair Betts to a training camp try out beginning on Sept. 13. At 6’3, 210 lbs., Betts is a top-notch defensive forward and penalty killer. Averaging about 50% on faceoffs in the last three seasons with the Rangers, the 29-year old would top the Flyers in that statistic.
If Betts does make Flyers’ roster as a third-line center, it could push forward Claude Giroux to the first or second line. That would make a big difference in whether the team continues a search for a UFA winger.
According to the Edmonton Journal, 23-year old flashy forward Rob Schremp, who is fresh off a one-year, two-way deal with the Oilers, may be available via waivers or trade and the Flyers have shown interest.
“Schremp could have signed for less than $715,000 to make him more marketable to somebody else–the Philadelphia Flyers have also been sniffing around, but don’t have a lot of salary-cap room–but his two-way deal makes him attractive.”
After 17 years, one of the game’s toughest and most respected warriors has decided to hang up his skates.
“This summer, as I was training and working out, I just didn’t feel it. It’s just time to take on something new,” Jason Smith told the Ottawa Sun on Wednesday. “I thought about it quite a while. Not like I flipped a coin and made a decision. It’s time to move on.”