Flyers using Olympic break to get away

Flyers using Olympic break to get away
February 10, 2014, 9:00 am
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Craig Berube and the Flyers have won four straight games and enter the Olympic break with a 30-23-6 record. (USA Today Images)

Luke Schenn was looking rather glum.

He and younger brother, Brayden, were scheduled to hit the Caribbean this week with five other teammates plus a few friends from elsewhere.

But Brayden is the only Schenn going now.

“We were going on a vacation together with guys on the team and some players around the league, but we have a medical issue, a sickness in my girlfriend’s family, and we have to go back to Kelowna (British Columbia),” Luke Schenn said.

“My plans are out the window now. I will be back there with her family. There’s not a heck of a lot going on back there right now. Couple mountains to get away for a day. A lot of guys are going on tropical vacations. My plans went out days ago. I’m heading back [to Canada].”

Immediately after Saturday’s game, those players not going to the Olympics headed, in most cases, for warmer destinations, including Arizona and Mexico.

“I’m going away for a few days [to golf],” Scott Hartnell said. “Haven’t seen the sun for a few weeks here so I will go to try and find it somewhere else.”

Braydon Coburn wanted to head south, as well, but family commitments took care of that.

“I’m going back home to Calgary,” he said. “I have a young son and everyone is itching to see him. All the family wants to meet him.

“We thought it [would] be a good opportunity for everyone to get together after the break. It won’t be hot, I won’t get a tan, but you go where the family is.”

Matt Read is part of the Caribbean excursion with Brayden Schenn.

“I’m going south for a couple days for warmer weather and [to] get away from everything a bit, then come back for business,” Read said.

The Olympic break will last through Feb. 23.

Teams can not practice again until Feb. 19, but some players won’t return until well after. The gold medal game, for instance, is Feb. 23, and any player coming back will need rest.

The Flyers' schedule resumes Feb. 27 when they host the San Jose Sharks at Wells Fargo Center.

“We got some things set up for them [prepared by] our strength coach,” said Flyers coach Craig Berube. “Hopefully, they follow some guidelines.

“The Olympics are a good thing. Go over and represent your country, and to play in an event like that, it’s pretty special. Players go over and play and come back, [but] it will be tough on them, and it’s hard on teams to take a break like this.

“But it’s hard on players, too, who go away for 10 days, come back and have to start over again. It’s not easy for anybody. Again, it’s the Olympics and it’s special.”

The Flyers go into the Olympic break having won four straight. Truth be told, this is a time when you wish the Flyers were using this momentum to keep playing and gaining ground in the standings.

When they return, the stretch run for the playoffs begins with the final 23 games spread out over 46 days.

“I’m going on vacation with my girlfriend,” Wayne Simmonds said. “Relax a little bit for a couple days and then start working out again. Yeah, definitely [warm] weather.

“If you have momentum, you want to keep rolling with momentum. There is nothing we can do about [the break]. Your draw from the positives. Go out with a bang.

“When we come back, we get quality practice time. If you have momentum, you don’t want to stop, you want to keep going. But it’s the Olympics.”

Flyers chairman Ed Snider loathes the Olympics and worries about how it’s going to impact the Flyers' momentum (see story).

It’s the same for every team, really. Some teams, like Chicago, have double the number of players going overseas. The Flyers have just five.

“You can look at it a couple ways,” Hartnell said. “There are a few other teams going good right now. It seems we’re not gaining any ground.

“You've got to take care of yourself for a couple of weeks. Get away from hockey. Go sit on a beach, or golf or whatever. After a few days, get some workouts in and focus on the last month and a half.”

Read wasn’t quite sure what to think, seeing both sides of the issue.

“Good thing for us? It’s a tough question,” Read said. “We are playing well right now, but it’s also kind of been a grind the last couple weeks, and it’s good to have a couple days off.

“Let your body rest up and allow your nagging injuries [to] heal. We have just over a month left for the regular season to get ready for the playoffs.”

No one is more disappointed at not going to the Olympics than team captain Claude Giroux, who wasn’t picked for Team Canada at the outset nor added as an injury replacement for Steven Stamkos last week.

“I’m going away for a little bit and I’ll be back,” Giroux said. “Won’t be too long. I want to get back and get skating again.

“Rest can’t hurt. It’s good to be able to take a second, sit back, look at what position we are [in] and what we need to do better and kind of refresh where we are at.”

Added Coburn: “Honestly, it’s just like anything. You try to do the best with what the schedule gives you. You want to be playing really good up to the break rather than playing really bad.

“It’s good for guys, going to the break and having a good feeling. If you have too much time off, and [you're] not liking where your game is at, it can be destructive to a certain extent.”

Luke Schenn said the entire break feels “weird” to him.

“Three weeks is a long time,” he said. “Almost feels like the season is ending. Go away and come back and go full throttle down the stretch. It’s a little different. You definitely have to take care of yourself and train though.”

That’s what Berube is hoping will happen, because when his team returns, it will almost be like training camp again.

“Yeah, you almost have to approach it like that,” Berube said. “That’s the only problem. You've got to make do with what you gotta do and make sure you get things done properly right away.”