Cooking? Flyers camp about more than hockey

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Cooking? Flyers camp about more than hockey

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers director of player development Ian Laperriere remembers what it was like to live on his own as a young hockey player with little life experience.

Among a whole host of challenges associated with living independently for the first time was one very simple issue: getting food on the dinner table.

“I didn’t know -- I still don’t know -- how to cook anything,” Laperriere said. “But I didn’t know how to cook anything at that age. ... I didn’t know at 17, 18. Now I know by experience. Sometimes it’s an easy choice to make for them that will make a big difference at the end of the day. Like we tell those guys, everybody’s good, but that little difference -- nutrition, training -- is going to make you be in the NHL instead of the guy next to you.”

And so at this week’s Flyers development camp, which wrapped up Thursday evening, Laperriere added a different kind of off-ice training to the schedule. Split into two groups, the campers first toured the ACME Market down the street from Skate Zone with team dietician Amy Kaminski.

“We took them through the grocery store to show them how to shop the perimeter of the store and make better options with their food choices,” Kaminski said. “So if they were going to choose yogurt for example, that they had a low-fat yogurt versus a higher-fat yogurt.”

Kaminski spent about 45 minutes educating the prospects and answering questions like whether almond milk is better than cow’s milk, or if whole eggs are preferable to egg whites, despite the cholesterol.

“They like milk, and yogurt’s good,” said Sam Morin, the Flyers’ 2013 first-round pick, when asked what he took away from the experience. “Meat, protein -- we need protein. We need fat sometimes, too. Not a lot, just a little bit. And a lot of vegetables.”

The culinary education didn’t end there. Later, the Flyers’ prospects took a cooking class at a caterer nearby the Wells Fargo Center. That experience was received very well, Laperriere said.

“They told them how they prepared [the meal] -- grilling instead of using oil, smart little tips,” Laperriere said. “... I don’t want those kids to cook a seven-course meal, just common sense. Because a lot of those guys are going to be on their own next year. They went from mommy and daddy to billet family and now it’s just you.

“If you play in the minors, you can’t eat at the restaurant every day. And that’s probably the worst place you want to eat, with all the salt and all in it. You want those kids to be able to cook for themselves.”

This year’s camp was the third Laperriere has spearheaded, and was focused on the idea of its participants learning what it takes to “be a pro.” That explains the on-ice sessions, as well as the nutrition classes and a sort-of sex education session the entire group sat through.

The latter two were both firsts for the camp this year.

“Being a pro, you’re on your own,” he said. “Some of those kids might play when they’re 21 or 22. No girlfriend, their own apartment. It’s a big change. And I’ve been through it. I was lucky enough I had two older guys living with me. But those kids might be alone or living with other guys that don’t know how to cook or don’t know what to do as a pro.

“I think we covered, not everything, obviously, but we covered a lot and every year I try to bring something different and [trainer] Jimmy McCrossin tries to bring something different. We’re all in it together.”

NHL Notes: Rangers ink Mika Zibanejad to 5-year extension

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USA Today Images

NHL Notes: Rangers ink Mika Zibanejad to 5-year extension

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have signed center Mika Zibanejad to a $26.75 million, five-year deal.

Zibanejad will count $5.35 million against the salary cap through 2021-22 as the Rangers count on him to take on a bigger role following the trade of Derek Stepan. General manager Jeff Gorton announced the contract Tuesday morning, before the team and Zibanejad were set to go to arbitration.

The 24-year-old Swede had 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points in 56 games last season, his first with New York. The Rangers acquired Zibanejad from the Ottawa Senators for Derick Brassard a year ago.

Zibanejad has 188 points in 337 NHL games with the Senators and Rangers since Ottawa drafted him sixth overall in 2011 (see full story).

Team Canada names Sean Burke GM for 2018 Olympics
Sean Burke will be the general manager and Willie Desjardins the head coach for Canada at the first Olympics without NHL players since 1994.

Hockey Canada named its management and coaching staffs for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics on Tuesday. St. Louis Blues assistant general manager Martin Brodeur will work under Burke on the management side, while Desjardins will be assisted by Dave King, Scott Walker and Craig Woodcroft.

Canada has been grooming Burke for this responsibility for some time as he served as assistant GM for the 2017 world championships, GM for the 2016 Spengler Cup and Deutschland Cup and director of player development for the 2016 worlds. Desjardins coached Canada's 2010 world junior team and assisted in 2009.

USA Hockey has not yet named its GM or coach (see full story).

Sabres re-sign goalie Lehner to 1-year deal
BUFFALO, N.Y.  -- The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed goaltender Robin Lehner to a $4 million, one-year contract.

The team announced the deal Tuesday. Lehner was a restricted free agent.

The 26-year-old Swede showed he could stay healthy last season, setting career highs with 59 games played, 23 wins and two shutouts. He ranked third in the NHL with 1,758 saves and finished with a .920 save percentage and 2.68 goals-against average.

Bothered by injuries and concussion problems, Lehner had never before played more than 36 games in his NHL career. The Sabres took a chance on Lehner when they traded a first-round pick to the Ottawa Senators for him at the 2015 draft.

Lehner will again be a restricted free agent next summer when this contract expires.

Devils re-sign 3 restricted free agents
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils have re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Mirco Mueller, forward Joseph Blandisi and goaltender Scott Wedgewood.

Mueller got a two-year deal worth an average of $850,000 a season, Blandisi a two-year, two-way deal worth an average of $680,000 in the NHL, and Wedgewood a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000 in the NHL. General manager Ray Shero announced the contracts Tuesday.

Re-signing Mueller for two years was the most significant move after New Jersey acquired the 22-year-old from San Jose before the Vegas expansion draft. The Swiss defender has just six points in 54 NHL games with the Sharks, but still is considered a good prospect after being a first-round pick in 2013.

Mueller will make $775,000 next season and $925,000 in 2018-19.

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

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John Boruk/CSNPhilly.com

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

The opportunity to watch a Briere play again in Philadelphia will be an exciting reality for hockey fans this season.

No, Danny Briere isn’t coming out of retirement as the former Flyers forward has committed to handling the day-to-day operations of the organization’s newest ECHL team.  

However, Briere will be keeping close tabs on his younger son, Carson, who’s currently on the Philadelphia Rebels' 30-man roster and is setting his sights on making the team’s final cuts during training camp.

“It’s great,” Briere said Monday. “Growing up here for most of my life, I love Philly. It’s fun getting to play in the same city that [my dad] did. Whenever I think of him playing, I always think of that playoff run [in 2010] for the Flyers.”

After spending the past two seasons at IceWorks in Aston, Pennsylvania, the NAHL’s (North American Hockey League) Rebels are moving their operation to the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena, where they made the formal announcement on Monday. It will be the organization’s third different home rink in the past four seasons after relocating from the Rio Grande Valley in 2015.

“It was a no-brainer,” team owner Marko Dundovich said. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was very easy. I think it will give the boys a better opportunity to play, get them seen and I think it’s going to continue to grow here, and our business and organization will do much better here.”

The Rebels and junior hockey simply didn’t attract a broad appeal in the Philadelphia suburbs like ownership had hoped, and as a result, attendance lagged as the team typically averaged around 125 fans a game.

“It was the first time we tried Junior A hockey here,” Dundovich said. “If we had a 300-, 400- or 500-person fan base, we would have been OK in Aston, but I think it was tough to sell a junior hockey ticket in Aston. It’s a difficult sell in a small town.”   

Conversely, hockey fans in Philadelphia haven’t had much of an alternative to the Flyers since the Phantoms left the city in 2009 for Glens Falls, New York. Rebels forward Aaron Maguyon, who stays with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau throughout the season, feels the team cannot only fill the 2,500-seat ice rink, but the players will greatly benefit from the college vibe.  

“I think it prepares us for the future and playing college hockey, for sure, so in that way, it’s like a sneak peek for what’s to come," Maguyon said. "I think it helps pull guys closer together. We have restaurants we can go to or just activities we can do in the city."

According to the league website, the NAHL set a new single-season NCAA record with 280-plus commitments, and the Rebels had 12 commit to Divison I programs. Head coach Joe Coombs has built a tier-II junior hockey powerhouse over the past two years. Last season, the Rebels finished with the NAHL’s best regular-season record, advancing to the championship game of the Robertson Cup in Duluth, Minnesota, where they came up short in a 2-0 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas. 

“This is business,” Coombs said. “Let’s bring the game to the people. Over the last two years, we struggled with our attendance. I didn’t even know this place was here — UPenn hockey rink — and we couldn’t think of a better venue right here in University City to try and market our brand of hockey and bring our game to the people.”  

And who knows? You might just see a few former Flyers in the seats, as well.