Goalie Steve Mason says playing for the Flyers represents a new start for him after some tough recent years in Columbus.
General manager Paul Holmgren says Mason understand the need for him to fit into the Flyers' salary cap structure on his next contract (he will be a restricted free agent this summer) and a raise is not in the picture.
Anton Thun, who represents Mason, says his client understands both scenarios and will re-up on a new deal in the coming week before the Flyers would be forced to qualify him next summer at $3.2 million.
That means Mason will have to accept a pay cut from his current $2.9 million salary.
Thun, who also represents Flyers defenseman Oliver Lauridsen, met with Mason at the morning skate in Toronto and has already spoken with Holmgren on a new contract.
“I fully anticipate that we will have a contract extension in the next few days,” Thun said on Thursday. “There’s no doubt. I’ve been in this business 25 years. You don’t give up a third-round pick and Michael Leighton for three weeks of hockey.”
And Mason’s new deal?
“If Steve were not to sign till he got a qualifying offer, then [the Flyers would] have to offer $3.2 million. Unless he signed earlier. And he will sign earlier. This is a reset for Steve. We understand that. We’ve had numerous conversations about the opportunities that may exist for him to press that reset button somewhere else and Philly was at the top of his list.”
Thun said that had Mason remained a Blue Jacket through the season, “it would have been highly, highly unlikely” that his client would received a qualifying offer of $3.2 million, anyway.
Mason’s NHL numbers simply would not have warranted such – 2.90 career goals-against and three straight seasons above 3.00.
Flyers goalie coach Jeff Reese raised some eyebrows in saying Philadelphia would be a good place for Mason to find his game and start over.
“I just want to come in here and reach my full potential,” Mason said in an interview on the team’s website. "I know what kind of goaltender I can be and I can be one of the best. I realize there’s a ton of work to do to get there, but I am fully prepared to work with Jeff Reese and Ilya [Bryzgalov].”
Philadelphia has never been an easy town for goalies, given the pressure to win. It has a reputation as a town where goaltenders get eaten alive when things go badly.
“That’s OK,” Thun said. “There’s lots of places where goaltenders get eaten alive. The reality of it is, you get eaten alive no matter where you play if you’re a goaltender who is not stopping the puck. It’s as simple as that. You get eaten alive in Montreal; you get eaten alive in Toronto; you get eaten alive in New York; and that’s the reality of it. Doesn’t matter. Roberto Luongo gets eaten alive in Vancouver when he lets in a bad goal.
“If you want to go to a marketplace where you can put yourself in a rocking chair, and not worry about performing, hey, that’s OK. That’s not the real world of professional sports.”
A little Pronger in him?
Thun spoke with Chris Pronger, who attended the morning skate in Toronto, and explained to him that Lauridsen tended to be like a lot of Danes – very social - and that he needed a little Pronger nastiness in him on the ice.
“I told Chris, ‘I need a few ounces of your blood injected into Oliver so that he becomes the mean SOB you were,’” Thun said. “Pronger just laughed and said, ‘You obviously didn’t watch our game last night [against Montreal]. He threw a couple of mean cross-checks across the back in front of the net.”
Sexual assault charges pressed against Flyers prospect Nick Cousins and two other hockey players have been dropped.
Cousins, a center with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, is one of the Flyers’ top prospects. The 68th overall pick in the 2011 draft had 103 points in 64 games this season.