The Nashville Predators bought out Hal Gill's contract in July. (USA Today Images)
He may be in the Flyers' training camp under different circumstances, but Hal Gill shares the same attitude as Vinny Lecavalier.
He has a large chip on his shoulder after being bought out by Nashville much like Lecavalier was bought out by Tampa Bay.
What Gill doesn’t have is a contract. He’s on a tryout.
He feels he has something to prove when the Flyers hit the ice Thursday morning at the Wells Fargo Center and made it clear he could care less if there are nine defensemen here on one-way deals.
He says he’s going to show management he has something they don’t and that what he has is worth them keeping him around when camp ends.
“I think winning solves everything,” Gill said. “It’s a lot more fun doing that. It was a tough year. That’s why the buyout was tough. I wanted to go to Nashville and do good things and I didn’t really get a chance to do that.
“That being said, I’m excited. This year I have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. I’m a little [ticked] off. I want to get back to work.”
The 38-year-old has his work cut out for him to make this roster.
Gill and Lecavalier both have Stanley Cup rings. Gill has the experience that comes with being a 15-year guy on the blue line.
He is one of the last of a dying breed of tough-nosed guys who knew how to use their sticks to carve out a livelihood, and physically punish guys with checks all over the ice. Ask Eric Lindros.
Alas, a lot of what Gill did so well is no longer permitted under the changes to rules that came into the league after the 2005 lockout.
Now throw in the lowering of the NHL salary cap, and you have an unusual glut of older free agents as camps open this week.
“There’s a lot of guys that are on the outside looking in, but I can’t really control that,” Gill said. “I feel like the NHL is always changing the rules to get me out of the league.”
He was laughing when he said that.
“Maybe they did that just for me, lowered the cap just for me. They’ve been trying for years. That’s what makes it fun. To go through this experience and hopefully be on a winning team and help a team, that’s really what I’m looking for.
“There’s a lot of guys that have retired that I’ve talked to that just say, ‘Play as long as you can.’ It’s not too hard to put in the time it takes to work out and stay in shape and be ready to go whenever someone calls me.
“It’s what I’ve been doing my whole life, so it’s easy to keep that edge and fight as long as I can.”
Gill goes 6-feet-7 and 240 pounds, but looked trimmed and lighter on Wednesday at Flyers media day.
“I feel good,” he said. “I feel better than I did in five years. I’m excited about it. Of course, camp’s always a different story. You’ve got to feel good once you get going. I’m excited to get started.”
Gill had ankle surgery the summer prior to last season’s lockout and admits it held him back in Nashville, coupled with a late-season injury, as well.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he will give Gill a long look to earn a contract, but unless the Flyers trade a defenseman or have one of their top seven go down to injury, it’s hard to see Gill making the roster.
Gill says all he wants is some games.
“Looking at it, I think at some point you’ve got to take what’s given to you and make the best of it,” he said. “I’m excited to get going and prove to people that they need me. The game is getting younger and it’s the wrong time to be a UFA.
“I think that’s an opportunity for this camp to show people that they need a guy like me. I can’t control what people are gonna do. But I can control what I do and be positive, go out and work hard and make a statement for myself and of course try to get on this team.
“I think this is a good team and I’d love to be a part of it, but I understand the numbers and I understand the business side of it. If it’s not on this team, hopefully I’ll open someone’s eyes and play well and get a job somewhere.”
The road to a deal starts Thursday.