In a surprise announcement by the Flyers on Monday, forward Riley Cote has declared his retirement at the age of 28. He will become an assistant coach with the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League.
Cote, who was set to make $550,000 this season had he not been sent to the AHL, played 156 career games with the Flyers where he racked up 411 penalty minutes.
According to an official release from the Philadelphia Flyers, forward Simon Gagne is very questionable for Tuesday’s game in Washington due to a lower body injury. The good news is — it’s not his groin.
As it stands now, center Blair Betts is set to return off the IR on Tuesday, moving either Darroll Powe or Mika Pyorala to a top-3 line to replace Gagne.
More injury is the last thing Gagne needs. After missing most of the preseason with a groin injury suffered in Team Canada’s conditioning camp, the 29-year-old winger has not been the same. Scoring 34 goals last year for the Flyers, Gagne has just one goal and four assists in nine games.
But it isn’t his statistics that are the issue — it’s his ice presence.
Gagne has noticeably floated aimlessly around the ice and has purposely not taken contact, to the point where many speculated a lingering groin problem.
Bad news for the Penguins on Thursday — Arron Asham has something to prove.
The rough-and-tough Asham, who scored eight goals, 12 assists and 155 penalty minutes in 78 games last season, will make his 2009-10 season debut on Thursday and is expected to be on the third line aside Claude Giroux and Darroll Powe.
“I’m hoping to stay in the lineup for the rest of the year,” said a very serious Asham, who was scratched for the team’s first three games. “I’ll get my chance, I’ll work hard and keep my spot. I’m definitely not going to give it up easily.”
For much of the preseason, the major roster question was who general manager Paul Holmgren was going to decide to keep with the big club — James van Riemsdyk, Mika Pyorala or Blair Betts. But according to Holmgren, the Flyers want all three.
“If we were submitting rosters tomorrow, yeah, (Pyorala, JVR and Betts) would probably would be on it,” said Holmgren.
Other than being one of the top defenseman in the league, Chris Pronger was brought in by the Flyers to be an active leader and influence for the young core. And with a month still remaining before training camp on Sept. 13, the veteran defender’s job as a role model has already been put in motion.
“I’m usually here around this time trying to start skating and preparing for the season, and doing all the little things that it takes to be ready to go for the start of camp,” Pronger told the Flyers’ Kevin Kurz, about showing up to camp a month early.
Philadelphia Inquirer writer Sam Carchidi wrote a piece designing the projected Flyers’ line combinations for the 2009-10 season. He put Ian Laperriere on the second line wing and Mike Richards centering the third line with Arron Asham and Daniel Carcillo. Being moved by the article, I decided to take it upon myself to put together the groupings to start the season.
The Flyers have announced that Mike Richards, Kimmo Timonen, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell and Darroll Powe have been voted annual team awards. Richards earned himself the Bobby Clarke award for the team’s most valuable player for the second consecutive season. Timonen won the Barry Ashbee trophy for the second year in a row as the team’s best defenseman and Briere won the Yanick Dupre trophy for classiest Flyer.
Jeff Carter won the Toyota Cup, which is the Flyers’ player with the most star of the game points.
Darroll Powe won the most improved player award and Scott Hartnell won the Gene Hart trophy for player that has showed the most heart.
The Flyers also announced to the media that enforcer Riley Cote, who injured his right ring finger in a fight with a Boston Bruin on March 29, will miss the rest of the season after he underwent surgery to fix the problem. Cote leads the Flyers with 174 penalty minutes.
The Philadelphia Flyers have reported that forward Scott Hartnell missed practice today, with what is being described as a case of pink eye, or conjunctivitis. The odd, child-like illness is a viral infection of the eye that takes 3-5 days to recover. No medicines are typically prescribed, as it is not serious.
Claude Giroux and Riley Cote also missed practice. Giroux’s absence has not be explained, but it shouldn’t be assumed it’s injury related. Cote is still battling a damaged finger, which he suffered against the Boston Bruins and aggravated in the first Toronto game.
The Flyers had their team picture taken today. They wore orange jerseys as shown here in Kevin Kurz’s On the Fly Twitter.
INJURY UPDATE: Giroux has been dealing with stomach pain for a number of days. He was getting checked out by the doctor today, for what seems like some sort of acid reflux problem.
The Flyers have announced that Danny Briere and Riley Cote will both be in the line up Thursday against the Washington Capitals. Briere, who has played just 12 games this season due to a chronic groin injury, will be inserted into the lineup for Andreas Nodl. Cote, who left Tuesday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres because of an upper body injury, will also be in the lineup after tests on his shoulder came back negative.
Meanwhile, Washington enforcer Donald Brashear is still questionable for Thursday with a knee sprain. Brashear left Tuesday’s contest against the Nashville Predators after getting KO’d by Wade Belak.
Flyers’ enforcer Riley Cote, left the ice in the second period of his team’s 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night, with what is reported as an upper body injury. He did not return to the game and the severity of the injury is unknown.
The Flyers return to action Thursday night against the Washington Capitals, who coincidentally also lost their enforcer, Donald Brashear, to an injury. Brashear was knocked out by Nashville Predators tough guy Wade Belak and did not return to the game. The injury is reported as a sprained knee, which is identical to what he was diagnosed with after his two fights with Cote, in a game against the Flyers earlier in the season. It seems the Capitals’ “sprained knee” is the equivalent of the Flyers’ “sinus infection.”
Ryan Bright (Philabright@gmail.com) is a sports writer, born and raised in the Philadelphia area. A graduate of West Chester University, he has been with the Daily Local News in Chester County since early 2007, working as the paper's college and high school ice hockey beat writer. In 2010, began as a contributer for CSNPhilly.com, covering the Flyers and the Philadelphia Union.