One-on-one with Flyers captain Claude Giroux
Zac Rinaldo's T-shirt for Saturday's team-building exercises. All Flyers players received similar shirts with their numbers on them Friday. (Diana C. Neahos/Glens Falls Post Stars)
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- When the Flyers returned to their locker room Friday afternoon, each player found a neatly folded gift awaiting him at his stall: a camouflage T-shirt emblazoned with the words “OPERATION: WARRIOR FORGE.”
As for what exactly that is, the players don’t know much -- only that they’ll be doing something Saturday and that it will be in the woods.
“It’s a team-building exercise,” Scott Laughton said. “It’s going to be a fun day.”
According to its website, Operation: Warrior Forge is a “leader development and assessment course” that emphasizes team-building and leadership skills.
A representative from Operation: Warrior Forge came to talk to players before Friday’s practice and gave them a bit of a primer, but the players seemed only to know (or only willing to let on to the media) that Saturday’s activities will be outside, in the forest and military-themed.
“He came in here and spoke a little bit earlier,” Chris VandeVelde said. “And he seems like a pretty intense guy and a fun guy. It’s going to be interesting, and I’m sure it will be fun, as well.”
Unfortunately for the Flyers, while the weather has been sunny and in the high 70s since they arrived in Lake Placid, the forecast takes a turn for the worse Saturday: temperatures in the 60s with rain expected.
Picking up the pace
Friday’s practice was much shorter, and much faster, than Thursday’s. The players only spent time on each ice surface at the Lake Placid Olympic center once and were done by about 1 p.m.
“Pace was good out there today,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought it was good yesterday, out on the big rink. It’s got to slow down at times. As much as you want your team moving fast, up and down the ice all the time, there’s got to be times that you slow it down and work on little things.
“Today, it didn’t slow down quite as much, it wasn’t quite as long, but I thought the pace was real good. When we needed to jump, we jumped.”
Because Wayne Simmonds did not take part in Friday’s practice, the Flyers ran four lines with Michael Raffl and Chris VandeVelde taking turns at left wing on a line with Vinny Lecavalier and Brayden Schenn.
Coincidentally, Raffl and VandeVelde are likely in direct competition with one another for the Flyers' left wing vacancy. Laviolette, however, cautioned not to read into the two players’ splitting time.
“Only because [Simmonds] wasn’t on the ice today,” Laviolette said, “so instead of running five lines we ran four and bumped it around a little bit.”
A secret game?
While 27 Flyers and Flyers hopefuls were on the ice at the Herb Brooks Arena, some of their teammates took part in an “unofficial” game at the Prudential Center against a team made of mostly Albany Devils players. (The Albany Devils are the New Jersey Devils’ AHL affiliate.)
With Yann Danis in net, the Flyers/Phantoms won the game, 4-2, behind goals from Derek Mathers, Cullen Eddy, Mark Alt and Nick Cousins.
For the record, the two teams wore Flyers and Devils jerseys, instead of their usual AHL attire.
All but one
Danis, Ben Holmstrom and Kris Newbury all cleared waivers Friday, and were sent to the Adirondack Phantoms.
Marc-Andre Bourdon cleared waivers, too, but was not sent to the AHL. Bourdon is not cleared to return yet, and may start the season on Flyers' long-term injured reserve.