For Flyers, Lake Placid trip 'means a lot'


For Flyers, Lake Placid trip 'means a lot'

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Vinny Lecavalier was here once before, to watch his younger brother play.

That was certainly fun for Lecavalier and his family, but to actually take the ice at the Lake Placid Olympic Center was a far different experience -- much better than sitting in the crowd cheering on Clarkson University.

“It means a lot,” Lecavalier said. “I’m Canadian, but the hockey history obviously is a lot, coming to this arena. It’s great, it’s a beautiful town and we’re happy to bond as a team.”

It’s impossible to enter this building, and especially the actual rink on which the 1980 U.S. team surprised the world and won Olympic gold, without being hyper aware of a sense of what was accomplished here. That’s true for the many visitors who come through the Center every day on tours, but even more true of the 27 Flyers here for camp -- their coaches, too.

“It’s important for Americans and for USA hockey,” Adam Hall said. “You have milestones, that for the longest time for the Soviet Union and Canada were so dominant. To be such huge underdogs at that time in American history was something that the American people really rallied around. I think that’s why it was such a big deal.

“The World Cup of hockey in ’96, the World Juniors, you just go down the line, there’s been some great milestones in the USA hockey programs. It’s nice to see.”

Hall is one of only three Americans on the Flyers’ training camp roster -- Hal Gill and Chris VandeVelde are the others.

Even those who weren’t alive at the time of the Miracle on Ice are excited to spend time at a place so important to the growth of their sport.

“It’s pretty cool,” VandeVelde said. “There’s a lot of history here. You grew up hearing that story. You always look back at it. It’s definitely neat. I’m excited to see the town and kind of get more acquainted with it.”

While there’s business to attend to on the ice while they’re here, the Flyers aren’t just in Lake Placid to perfect coach Peter Laviolette’s systems in a historical setting. They’re here to get some time away from Philadelphia, to get to know each other better in a small town away from their friends, families and daily routines.

There are “Welcome Philadelphia Flyers” signs peppered around all over town -- at shops, restaurants and the town’s only movie theater, where the full team will take in a show Thursday night.

As Lecavalier said, they’ll be spending “basically 24 hours a day” together.

“It’s fun,” Claude Giroux said. “I’ve never been here before. We came straight [to the rink after getting off the plane], so I haven’t had time to look around. But I know we have a couple activities this weekend. I heard it’s a very nice place. I can’t wait to see it.”

The conditions at the Olympic Center aren’t exactly glamorous. The locker room in which the U.S. team dressed before their gold medal game hasn’t been updated since 1980, in fact.

But those minor inconveniences -- small locker rooms, rough ice, having to balance on rubber sheets as they walk across concrete from rink to rink -- adds to the experience of history, according to Hall.

“It’s an old building,” he said, “but you can feel a connection with the past and things that happened here.”

Best of NHL: Oilers blank Jets to win outdoor Heritage Classic

Best of NHL: Oilers blank Jets to win outdoor Heritage Classic

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Cam Talbot made 31 saves and Mark Letestu scored the first of three second-period goals, lifting the Edmonton Oilers over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday in an outdoor game delayed almost two hours by sunlight melting the ice.

The Heritage Classic victory extended Edmonton's winning streak to three in front of 33,240 at Investors Group Field. Fans wore both Jets and Oilers jerseys to the league's 19th outdoor game.

Zack Kassian had a goal and an assist and Darnell Nurse also scored for Edmonton.

Connor Hellebuyck, who had a tuque attached to his helmet, stopped 29 shots for Winnipeg.

The NHL said the start of the Heritage Classic game was delayed "due to intermittent sunlight on the playing surface" and "in the interest of player safety." (see full recap)

Girardi leads Rangers past Coyotes
NEW YORK -- Dan Girardi scored 1:55 into the third period and New York beat Arizona.

Josh Jooris and J.T. Miller also scored for New York, which has won consecutive games to improve to 4-2-0. Henrik Lundqvist made 27 stops.

Radim Vrbata had both of Arizona's goals, and Louis Domingue made 23 saves. The Coyotes have lost their first four games on a six-game trip since beating Philadelphia in overtime at home to start the season.

Girardi put the Rangers ahead with a slap shot from the right point. The veteran was paired with rookie Brady Skjei in his first game after missing New York's previous three with a strained groin, and Skjei assisted on the goal (see full recap).

Tavares' big night helps Isles defeat Wild
NEW YORK -- John Tavares had two goals and an assist, Johnny Boychuk scored for the second straight game and New York beat Minnesota.

Calvin de Haan, Alan Quine and Thomas Hickey also scored to help New York get its highest scoring total of the year and win for the third time in four home games after opening with two road losses. Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots for his first win in two starts this season.

Islanders rookie Anthony Beauvillier had two assists, giving the 19-year-old at least a point in three straight games.

Zach Parise scored twice for Minnesota to top 300 goals for his career, and Nino Niederreiter also scored. Second-string goalie Darcy Kuemper made 27 saves (see full recap).

Ducks hand Canucks 1st regulation loss
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Nick Ritchie scored the tiebreaking goal on a rebound with 8:36 to play, captain Ryan Getzlaf had three assists and Anaheim finally opened its home schedule with a victory over Vancouver.

Andrew Cogliano, Cam Fowler and Corey Perry also scored for the Ducks, who have won two straight after a four-game winless start. John Gibson made 17 saves in the Western Conference's final home opener, thanks to a schedule that forced Anaheim to play in five teams' home debuts this month.

Henrik Sedin scored the tying goal early in the third period for the Canucks, who lost in regulation for the first time this season. Bo Horvat scored a short-handed goal, and Loui Eriksson had two assists (see full recap).

Michael Del Zotto, Scott Laughton return to practice

Michael Del Zotto, Scott Laughton return to practice

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers welcomed two more players out on to the rink for their practice following Saturday’s 6-3 win over Carolina. 

Michael Del Zotto (lower body) and Scott Laughton (lower body) returned to the ice for the first time since suffering injuries within days of each other. Before Sunday’s light practice, Del Zotto and Laughton had skated two consecutive days prior to work on their conditioning. 

“It’s nice to see them back with the group,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. 

Laughton, who injured himself during a training camp practice after losing an edge, was a bit more forward than Del Zotto on when he hopes to return. 

“I would say within the next five to seven days,” Laughton said.

The 22-year-old pointed to Saturday’s game with Pittsburgh as his target to return. 

As for Del Zotto, the defenseman didn’t want to jinx anything, saying it’s a “day-by-day” situation. He would like to think he’s working on the same timetable as Laughton. If that’s the case, he would be back either a few days before or right on cue with the projected four to five weeks he was scheduled to miss after suffering an injury to his left knee in the preseason against the New York Rangers on Oct. 6. 

“It’s kind of trial and error,” Del Zotto said. 

Above all else, though, the two were just happy to be back with their teammates. Del Zotto said that being around everyone really rejuvenated his spirits. 

“Just being back around the guys and having that team chemistry and camaraderie and being able to joke with the guys,” Del Zotto said, “it’s probably been the best thing for me.”

This past month has especially been hard on the two because of the timing and how last season ended for them. 

While there’s never an ideal time to suffer an injury, the pair saw training camp and the approaching start of the regular season in a different light than most of their teammates.

It was supposed to be their new start. Last season, Del Zotto missed the final few months, including the postseason, after ligament damage to his left wrist. He was having a strong preseason, arguably the top defenseman in camp at the time before suffering his setback.

“Being out so long last year and having to sit and watch playoffs than having six months of grueling rehab to get back into it … that made it sting that much more,” Del Zotto said. “That’s part of the game. It’s a contact sport. I signed up for this.”

The same can be said for Laughton, who experienced a scary injury in Game 4 against Washington after being dumped head first into the boards. 

“I was really excited to have camp and start the year here,” Laughton said. 

The two will be traveling to Montreal with the rest of the Flyers for Monday’s contest. They will each do the morning skate with another bag skate afterward.