Flyers have shot to gain ground on rest of trip

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Flyers have shot to gain ground on rest of trip

There are four games left on the Flyers' road trip, even though they returned home briefly to Skate Zone on Thursday for practice.

Three of those games loom as extraordinarily significant because they involve New Jersey, Montreal and Pittsburgh -- three clubs currently ahead of the Flyers in the Eastern Conference standings.

If anyone thought the Devils' run to the Stanley Cup Final last spring was a fluke, coach Peter DeBoer is again proving there’s more to this team than meets the eye.

“It would have been easy for them to dwell on losing [Zach] Parise,” Mike Knuble said. “You miss a 40-goal guy, it’s easy to look around your locker room and feel sorry for yourself.

“That you’re missing that guy and who’s going to replace him. They’ve done it by committee. Seems like no matter who they switch in or out, they play by the same philosophy and Marty [Brodeur] has been in net and they keep turning out good seasons.”

The Devils occupy the No. 1 seed in East simply because they made the most of their head-to-head matches against tough opponents.

They picked up a point in a shootout loss to Boston in January. This month, they have victories over Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and the Rangers, plus a road loss to the Penguins. In other words, they’ve amassed seven of a possible 10 points against clubs right in the thick of the race.

Which is precisely why the Flyers need to get wins against the Devils, Canadiens and Penguins to finish off this road swing with a significant advance in the standings.

“All the games are important -- the two points are important,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “We have to continue to climb back into this from the hole we dug early.

“We seem to be going down a road that is putting us back on track, but we continue to work regardless of who comes into our building or which building we go into.

“The most important thing is to keep winning hockey games. Don’t necessarily pick ones which are important or not important.”

Fattening up on Washington or the Islanders doesn’t help enough because they’re below the Flyers in the standings.

DeBoer has had Laviolette’s number since before the playoffs, winning six of the last eight games going back to last season.

“They were great last year. Look how great they have been for how many years now?” Jakub Voracek asked.

“All those years in a row they made the playoffs. Such a solid team from the goalies to the forwards and they are so tough to play against. It’s always tough against them.

“These are tight standings. Every time you win it’s a four-point game. What do we have, 13? We had a tough start, but we’re 4-1-1 right now. We need every point possible.”

The Flyers played the Devils hard in January, dominating early, holding them without a single shot for almost 13 minutes and still trailed 2-0 after one period.

A couple bad bounces, a penalty, plus a converted penalty shot by Ilya Kovalchuk did them in.

“I really liked the first game we played against them,” Laviolette recalled. “The first period-and-a-half we played a game we needed to play to be successful and it got away from us.

“We have to make sure we’re disciplined and stay out of the box and don’t give them opportunities on the power play ... we have to clean up our game a little bit from the last time.”

The Flyers fought hard behind goalie Ilya Bryzgalov for a narrow 3-2 victory in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

“Guys dug in and paid a price, too,” Danny Briere said. “Everybody sacrificed their bodies, even if they were tired. That is what impressed me about that win.”

With Hall of Fame election, it all comes 'full circle' for Eric Lindros

With Hall of Fame election, it all comes 'full circle' for Eric Lindros

Eric Lindros’ career did not come with a storybook ending.

Concussions and injuries authored the final chapter of his playing days.

But on Monday afternoon, No. 88 “got his day,” as Ron Hextall put it.

In many ways, this was Lindros’ storybook finish.

“I haven’t stopped smiling,” Lindros said.

Lindros on Monday was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the 2016 class (see story).

A rare breed of size and skill, Lindros quickly became an NHL star with the Flyers and now finishes as one.

“It kind of feels full circle if you can understand that," Lindros said, via conference call. 

That feeling especially resonates when he laces 'em up at 43 years old.

"I play hockey a couple times a week just to try to fit in the jeans, and to have this honor right here at the end of things when my game is certainly on the downslope," Lindros said with a laugh, "it’s a great feeling, a great honor and I’m super happy.”

Sergei Makarov, Rogie Vachon and Pat Quinn join Lindros as the 2016 group.

“I would like to thank the selection committee, things are just starting to sink in and I’m certainly honored to be a part of this class,” Lindros said. “Congratulations to Rogie, Sergei and Pat Quinn’s family. It’s a real special honor.”

Lindros, an owner of 372 career goals, 493 assists and 865 points, won the 1994-95 Hart Memorial Trophy, joining Bobby Clarke as the only Flyers players to ever take home the MVP award.

Ironically, Lindros and Clarke clashed as player and general manager, respectively.

It led to a breakup on not-so-good terms.

“When it’s all said and done, everyone wanted to win,” Lindros said. “That was the main focus.”

The past is now the past for both. Clarke pushed for Lindros’ Hall of Fame bid and the latter was grateful.

“Certainly there were some times of friction,” Lindros said, “but to have Bob’s voice in support, next to so many, I’ve got to thank them.”

Flyers GM Hextall played with Lindros and saw the uniqueness firsthand.

“It was terrific being on his team,” Hextall said. “The package of skill and size and aggressiveness, he’s got a big shot. I think at the time, he was the hardest guy in the league to defend.”

Team president Paul Holmgren said you don’t see many like Lindros, still to this day.

“Eric had a shortened career due to injuries but the impact he had on the game was phenomenal,” Holmgren said. “We are all still looking for 6-5, 245-pound guys who can skate and play a skilled and physical game like Eric could. 

“This is great news for the Flyers organization and great news for Eric Lindros and his family. I’m very happy for him.”

Hextall admitted he still wonders what would have been if Lindros stayed healthy to close his career.

“He probably was in [the Hall of Fame] a couple years ago, right, if he didn’t have the injuries,” Hextall said. “Injuries happen but I can say this, when Eric played with us, he was clearly one of the most dominant players in the league at the time and probably one of the most dominant ever.”

And it all came full circle.

Lindros got his day.

Flyers make qualifying offers to Brayden Schenn, 4 other restricted free agents

Flyers make qualifying offers to Brayden Schenn, 4 other restricted free agents

The Flyers on Monday made expected qualifying offers to restricted free agents Brayden Schenn, Nick Cousins, Brandon Manning, Jordan Weal and Petr Straka.

Right wingers Brandon Alderson and Derek Mathers, both RFAs, did not receive qualifying offers. Alderson played 18 games for the Phantoms last season, while Mathers appeared in just three.

Qualifying offers must be made to restricted free agents from their respective clubs by the first Monday following the NHL draft. They cannot be accepted before July 1, the start of free agency. If a team does not extend a qualifying offer to a restricted free agent and the player is not eligible for/offered salary arbitration, he becomes unrestricted.

Essentially, qualifying offers, mandatory by this day, officially kick off the negotiation process. Now with a qualifying offer, the restricted free agent must notify their club of an offer from a pursuing team and allow it to match the offer in seven days.

If the prior team does not match an offer, it receives draft compensation from the player’s new club. A qualifying offer expires July 15 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time unless an extended deadline is agreed upon.

It goes without saying that Schenn is the Flyers’ most notable and important restricted free agent.

“I venture to guess that it's not going to be the first thing we get done, but in the end, we'll get it done,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said in late April of re-signing Schenn.

Hextall expressed significant interest in bringing back Cousins and Manning, as well.

Ryan White, an unrestricted free agent, is also a priority for Hextall.

The Flyers locked up Radko Gudas, who was a pending restricted free agent, last Thursday.

Former Flyers coach Pat Quinn elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

Former Flyers coach Pat Quinn elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

Pat Quinn, who took the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 1980 and coached them to the longest unbeaten streak in NHL history — 35  games — was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday in the Builders category.

He will be joined by former Flyers great Eric Lindros, who was selected in the player category (see story).  

The 6-foot-3 Quinn, a proud Irishman, who defined blueline toughness for two decades into the late 1970s, died after a long illness at the age of 71 in November of 2014.

His historic unbeaten streak occurred during the 1979-80 season.

Quinn succeeded fellow Hall of Famer Fred Shero in 1977-78 and stayed with the Flyers through all but the final eight games of the 1981-82 season when he was replaced by Bob McCammon.

Quinn had been an assistant under Shero previously.

Bill Barber was Quinn’s veteran left wing during their famed unbeaten streak — the same season the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Islanders in a controversial six-game series.

“I always put Pat Quinn up there with Fred Shero because he was a very big part of our success when he was there,” Barber told CSNPhilly.com.

“He was a huge part of the 35-game unbeaten streak. We didn’t have the most talent in the league but we had a team that worked together and Pat made sure everyone understood their role.

“He was a good communicator and he was quiet. He gave every player the opportunity to be themselves. He did not restrict or any of those other things within the game. I had the utmost respect for him.”

After he was fired by the Flyers, Quinn enrolled in Widener University to study law. He eventually earned his degree at the University of San Diego and would use his knowledge of law as a GM throughout the remainder of his career in hockey.

Quinn was Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame in recent years prior to his passing, and worked tirelessly to get Shero elected to the Hall in 2013.

He was just one of four men to win the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year with two different clubs — the Flyers (1979-80) and Vancouver (1991-92).

He played over 600 games on defense — among the last of the original Atlanta Flames — and coached more than 1,400 games.

After leaving the Flyers, Quinn joined the Los Angeles Kings in 1984-85, then Vancouver (1990-91) and Toronto (1998-2006).

He also served as general manager in both Vancouver and Toronto. Upon leaving the Leafs, he took a few seasons off before returning in 2009-10 to coach the Edmonton Oilers.

Quinn was actively involved with Team Canada and the Olympics throughout his coaching career.

When the 2009-10 season ended, Quinn left the NHL to join the Hall’s Selection Committee. He assumed the role as board chairman in 2013.

At the 2012 Winter Classic played at Citizens Bank Park, Quinn served as the Flyers Alumni team coach.

The late Flyers’ chairman, Ed Snider, said of Quinn two years ago, “Pat Quinn was an outstanding hockey coach. He had an excellent career as a player, coach, general manager and hockey executive. He was terrific at everything he did, including Chair of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He truly knew how to get our players to play hard every night.”

Bob Kelly, a member of the 35-game unbeaten squad, said Quinn lived life to the fullest. People who knew him referred to him as “The Big Irishman.”

“He enjoyed St. Paddy’s Day to the fullest,” Kelly said. “I remember he always got dressed up. Just a fun guy and a positive guy, too. He had his cigars and Freddie used to have his beers. That’s what it was. You can’t change the era. Just a good guy to be around.”

Quinn was nominated for the Hall’s consideration last year, as well.

This time, he made it.

This story contains previous published information from Tim Panaccio on CSNPhilly.com.