There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

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John Boruk/CSNPhilly.com

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

The opportunity to watch a Briere play again in Philadelphia will be an exciting reality for hockey fans this season.

No, Danny Briere isn’t coming out of retirement as the former Flyers forward has committed to handling the day-to-day operations of the organization’s newest ECHL team.  

However, Briere will be keeping close tabs on his younger son, Carson, who’s currently on the Philadelphia Rebels' 30-man roster and is setting his sights on making the team’s final cuts during training camp.

“It’s great,” Briere said Monday. “Growing up here for most of my life, I love Philly. It’s fun getting to play in the same city that [my dad] did. Whenever I think of him playing, I always think of that playoff run [in 2010] for the Flyers.”

After spending the past two seasons at IceWorks in Aston, Pennsylvania, the NAHL’s (North American Hockey League) Rebels are moving their operation to the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena, where they made the formal announcement on Monday. It will be the organization’s third different home rink in the past four seasons after relocating from the Rio Grande Valley in 2015.

“It was a no-brainer,” team owner Marko Dundovich said. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was very easy. I think it will give the boys a better opportunity to play, get them seen and I think it’s going to continue to grow here, and our business and organization will do much better here.”

The Rebels and junior hockey simply didn’t attract a broad appeal in the Philadelphia suburbs like ownership had hoped, and as a result, attendance lagged as the team typically averaged around 125 fans a game.

“It was the first time we tried Junior A hockey here,” Dundovich said. “If we had a 300-, 400- or 500-person fan base, we would have been OK in Aston, but I think it was tough to sell a junior hockey ticket in Aston. It’s a difficult sell in a small town.”   

Conversely, hockey fans in Philadelphia haven’t had much of an alternative to the Flyers since the Phantoms left the city in 2009 for Glens Falls, New York. Rebels forward Aaron Maguyon, who stays with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau throughout the season, feels the team cannot only fill the 2,500-seat ice rink, but the players will greatly benefit from the college vibe.  

“I think it prepares us for the future and playing college hockey, for sure, so in that way, it’s like a sneak peek for what’s to come," Maguyon said. "I think it helps pull guys closer together. We have restaurants we can go to or just activities we can do in the city."

According to the league website, the NAHL set a new single-season NCAA record with 280-plus commitments, and the Rebels had 12 commit to Divison I programs. Head coach Joe Coombs has built a tier-II junior hockey powerhouse over the past two years. Last season, the Rebels finished with the NAHL’s best regular-season record, advancing to the championship game of the Robertson Cup in Duluth, Minnesota, where they came up short in a 2-0 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas. 

“This is business,” Coombs said. “Let’s bring the game to the people. Over the last two years, we struggled with our attendance. I didn’t even know this place was here — UPenn hockey rink — and we couldn’t think of a better venue right here in University City to try and market our brand of hockey and bring our game to the people.”  

And who knows? You might just see a few former Flyers in the seats, as well.  

How Nolan Patrick's injury could have been career-ending

How Nolan Patrick's injury could have been career-ending

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Dr. William Meyers may have saved Nolan Patrick’s career June 13 when the 18-year-old NHL prospect elected to have corrective surgery on a core muscle injury that had been bothering him for the better part of the past year.

Prior to his initial visit to Philadelphia, Patrick believed he was fully healthy when he went through comprehensive testing at the NHL Scouting Combine in May, but his time on the ice told a much different story.

“I was probably 60 percent when I first started playing and maybe got up to 70, 75 tops,” Patrick said at development camp earlier this month. “I never had any wind during games. I’d lose my energy really quick because I’d lose it trying to skate with that injury. Probably 75 tops, I’d say.”

But what Patrick was completely unaware of, as are the many doctors who perform these core muscle surgeries, is the prevalence of how these complex injuries are misinterpreted. The Flyers' rookie should have had a typical four-to-six week recovery last summer, and any setback likely would have been avoided. 

Patrick’s first operation took place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, by Dr. James Robinson who, according to Patrick’s agent Kevin Epp, came recommended from the Jets' organization.

“I don’t think it had time to heal,” Epp said Monday in a phone interview with CSNPhilly.com. “Nolan got the surgery to fix the injured area at the time. I don’t know if both sides needed repair. Through the course of rehab he may have aggravated the other side.” 

“It’s tough to explain but it’s a sharp, shooting pain in your lower stomach," Patrick said. “I had it on both sides for a while there. I got one side fixed and then was having issues on that side again."

Whether Patrick was misdiagnosed or the procedure and subsequent rehabilitation were mishandled is certainly open for debate.

In speaking with Meyers of the Vincera Institute, he could not discuss specifically Patrick’s injury or his surgery, but said he performs “on average 10 procedures during a regular clinical day” in which the original surgeon failed to correct the problem area and the result is either a re-aggravation or the development of another injury altogether.

“The number one cause is a failure to understand that the prevalent concepts of ‘hernias’ have nothing to do with these injuries,” Meyers said.

Meyers believes the reason why core muscle injuries aren’t performed correctly are three-fold:  

• A general failure to understand the whole concept of the core muscle region (the area from mid abdomen to mid thigh).  

• A lack of knowledge regarding the anatomy.

• Very little experience seeing a variety of core muscle injuries and correlating that with the imaging. 

Over the past 35 years, Meyers has dedicated his medical career to the complex field of core muscle injuries, and what he has witnessed is a very disturbing trend. He’s the pioneer in the diagnosis and treatment of core muscle injuries, working primarily in his two-story complex at the Navy Yard. 

“The reason why I got into this area was so many hockey players in the 1980s were forced to retire too early because of these [core muscle] injuries," Meyers said. "It was, at that time, the number one reason why they retired.”

Perhaps the one popular Flyer whose career succumbed to persistent groin pain was Mikael Renberg, who retired in 2008 at the age of 35 after undergoing three separate groin procedures over a 12-year span.

Patrick saved himself the agony and was thoroughly convinced a corrective procedure performed by Meyers prior to the draft was vital to his career, regardless of who selected him.

The Flyers were also convinced. Patrick didn’t have an injury history, just history of an injury that never healed in the first place. 

Thankfully, they knew the one doctor who could get down to the core of the problem.

5 players to watch for 2017 Flyers development camp

5 players to watch for 2017 Flyers development camp

General manager Ron Hextall doesn’t have high expectations for the incoming prospects during the Flyers development camp. It’s more a process of understanding expectations, learning how to be a professional and meeting some of the organization’s prospects in the process (see story).  

While you won’t be treated to up-and-down scrimmaging that showcases individual skills, here’s a look at five of the more intriguing prospects to keep an eye on:   

1. Oskar Lindblom (No. 54)
Everything about the 20-year-old (turns 21 on Aug. 15) left winger suggests he’s ready for the NHL, and the Flyers feel the same as he signed his entry-level deal back in May. 

Lindblom was named the top forward for 2016-17 in the Swedish Elite League, where he put up 26 goals and 35 assists for 61 points in 72 games between the regular season and playoffs.

The Flyers have produced very few late-round gems in the draft, but Lindblom appears to be a steal in Hextall’s first draft with the Flyers as he was selected in the fifth round (138th overall) of the 2014 entry draft. He fell mostly because his skating was below average, and we’ll see how much he’s worked on that during the development camp.

Overall, Lindblom has size, added muscle and plays a solid all-around game that certainly makes capable of scoring goals.

2. Philippe Myers (No. 61)
The Flyers’ blue line cupboard is stocked with young talent, and with Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin expected to be the frontrunners for spots on the big club, Myers has become somewhat of the forgotten guy. 

NHL analyst Bob McKenzie tweeted back in January that Myers looked close to being NHL-ready based on the D-man’s play at the 2016 World Junior Championships. Myers is slightly smaller in build than Morin, but he has a big shot (scored 27 goals in a season and a half in the QMJHL). 

Hextall was blown away during a free-agent tryout in 2015 after Myers went undrafted the year before. Myers suffered a concussion during the WJC that kept him out until mid-February.

It will be very interesting to see him with the other prospects this week.

3. German Rubtsov (No. 63)
There was something unique about Rubtsov when Hextall made him the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft as he selected the Russian over some big, highly skilled wingers. 

Hextall admitted the organization did more character digging on Rubtsov than perhaps any player he’s drafted. Rubtsov did not participate in the team’s prospect camp a year ago, so this will be our first look at him. 

Rubtsov carved up the QMJHL in the short amount of time he played, and in all likelihood, he will return to Chicoutimi for next season. 

From what little I’ve seen from Rubtsov, he has really good hockey sense and is the ideal two-way center Hextall prefers.

4. Morgan Frost (No. 68)
Of the five prospects listed here, Frost is the youngest and furthest away from making the NHL. However, the name should stick with you considering he’s the player the entire scouting department was sold on when Hextall decided to add a late first-round pick when the Flyers traded Brayden Schenn to St. Louis.  

You may have also read Frost’s (now deleted) tweet from 2013 when he called the Flyers s--- following the team’s 7-0 blowout to the Capitals. Frost was just a kid and he’s obviously wised up as scouts and analysts rave about his smarts. 

Frost also has excellent acceleration on the ice, which is much needed for a team that lacks overall speed.    

5. Carter Hart (No. 79)
With Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott signed to respective two-year contracts, one of the goalie prospects should emerge to be “the guy” for the 2019-20 season.

Right now, Carter Hart appears to be the frontrunner. He was the No. 1 goaltender in the CHL with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League last season.

Phantoms goalie Alex Lyon referred to Hart as “so physically gifted” and, impressively, he’s also incredibly mature for an 18-year-old with a deep understanding of the history of the goaltending position. 

After he backstopped Team Canada to the silver medal at the World Junior Championships, Flyers fans can see for themselves the next franchise goalie since the guy who drafted him.