Flyers sign Michael Del Zotto to 1-year deal

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Flyers sign Michael Del Zotto to 1-year deal

It didn’t take the Flyers very long to fill the apparent hole left by defenseman Kimmo Timonen.

In fact, they got younger and quicker in a hurry, signing 24-year-old free agent Michael Del Zotto of Nashville, whose career has mostly been as a New York Ranger.

Del Zotto agreed to a one-year contract on Tuesday night. The deal is worth $1.3 million, which is about half of the $2.55 million he earned in 2013-14.

Timonen has blood clots in both lungs and his right lower leg. The uncertainty of his availability made it imperative that general manager Ron Hextall do something immediately.

Del Zotto (6-0, 194) is a former first-round pick -- 20th overall in 2008 -- of the Rangers, who had a very successful rookie year (2009-10) under John Tortorella with 37 points. Then, the left-handed shooting defenseman ran into a sophomore slump his next season when he fell out of favor with the club and was banished to the AHL. Some of it had to do with his lifestyle as a young player living in Manhattan.

Regardless, Del Zotto was among the Rangers' top four defensemen by 2011-12 and became even more valuable when Marc Staal was injured. He scored 10 points in 20 playoff games that spring.

“He gets up and down the ice very quickly,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said this past season.

The knock on him has always been his inability to maintain a consistent two-way game. It was why the Predators, who traded for him last January, were reluctant to commit to a long-term contract with him this summer, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.

When Alain Vigneault took over on Broadway, it was believed Del Zotto, a five-year veteran now, would reap the benefits of a fresh start under a new coach with more ice time and power-play responsibility.

It didn’t work out and GM Glen Sather decided to trade him to the Predators in January.

A longtime friend of former Flyer Steve Eminger, he has a lot of local ties to Philadelphia as Eminger and his wife live here.

The fact that Hextall gave him just a one-year deal indicates the Flyers are offering him the same carrot they gave Steve Mason -- here’s a job, earn it, play well and we’ll talk long term.

It worked for Mason. It’s up to Del Zotto to do the same.

NHL Notes: Kings activate goalie Jonathan Quick from injured reserve

NHL Notes: Kings activate goalie Jonathan Quick from injured reserve

LOS ANGELES -- Goalie Jonathan Quick has returned to the Los Angeles Kings after injuring his groin in the first period of the season opener.

Quick led the Kings during warmups before Saturday's game against the Anaheim Ducks.

The two-time Stanley Cup winner missed 59 games with the injury, which occurred Oct. 12 against San Jose. He has been skating with the Kings for several weeks, but he didn't make any rehabilitation starts in the minors.

The Kings only announced his return by activating him from injured reserve 40 minutes before the opening faceoff.

Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2012 when the eighth-seeded Kings steamrolled the competition on their way to the franchise's first Stanley Cup title.

When healthy, Quick has been the Kings' starting goalie since December 2008.

Ducks: Vermette's 10-game suspension upheld
NEW YORK -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld the 10-game suspension assessed to Anaheim Ducks center Antoine Vermette.

Vermette slapped his stick against the back of linesman Shandor Alphonso's legs after losing a faceoff to Minnesota's Mikko Koivu during the third period of the Ducks' 1-0 win on Feb. 14. Vermette had a hearing with Bettman on Thursday after appealing the initial suspension.

Bettman announced Saturday that the 10-game ban would remain; Vermette has served four games already.

Vermette will lose $97,222 in salary.

The normally mild-mannered Vermette appeared to act out of frustration when Alphonso dropped the puck before the forward had put his stick in place on the ice. Officials immediately assessed a game misconduct to Vermette.

For Shayne Gostisbehere, Dave Hakstol, Stadium Series brings back cherished memories

For Shayne Gostisbehere, Dave Hakstol, Stadium Series brings back cherished memories

PITTSBURGH -- For Flyers coach Dave Hakstol and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, tonight’s Stadium Series game between the Flyers and Penguins brings back memories.
 
Hakstol coached North Dakota in an outdoor hockey in college, while Gostisbehere participated in one as a freshman at Union College.
 
For Hakstol, however, this whole idea of outdoor hockey began when he was growing up in central Alberta in the small town of Drayton Valley.
 
“I think everybody’s got great memories of growing up outdoors,” Hakstol said. “We had a back creek that we could shovel off. I’m sure everybody could sit back and tell you stories of playing on the outdoor rinks.
 
“For me, most recently, I’ve got two kids growing up playing on outdoor rinks, backyard rinks. It’s pretty cool. It takes you right back to the heart of the game.”
 
Hakstol’s outdoor coaching experience came during a game between Nebraska-Omaha and his North Dakota squad in 2013 at the “Mutual of Omaha Battles on Ice.”
 
“I don’t know how to describe it,” Hakstol said of the event. “It’s just a different feel. It’s an ideal scenario.”
 
He said while tonight's game is special, it’s still about the points, first and foremost.
 
“You are cognizant of everything that surrounds the event and the game,” Hakstol said. “Yet for us, it’s two points. We’re fighting for every point here. That is going to paramount.”

Gostisbehere played at Fenway Park in 2012 for Union in a game against Harvard. That night, Union won, 2-0, to become the first ECAC club to ever win outdoors.
 
“I played at Fenway Park against Harvard and it was fun,” Gostisbehere said. “That was my freshman year and the only one I ever played in.
 
“Good crowd. It wasn’t packed obviously, but it was a night game. The ice was really good. It was really cold, too. It was pretty cool.”
 
As warm as it was Friday here -- a historic 78 degrees -- temperatures will begin in the 40s tonight at Heinz Field and then drop. It rained this morning but has since ceased.
 
“The biggest thing for me was to take a second, look around,” Gostisbehere said, admitting he failed to do that in college and won’t make that mistake again.
 
“Just cherish it a little bit. You are so focused on the game, it’s tough. That was biggest thing for me. It was such a blur. Just being in college and having the opportunity to play at Fenway Park was pretty awesome.”

This will the Flyers first-ever outdoor affair in Pittsburgh.
 
“It’s pretty exciting and I’m glad to be part of it,” Gostisbehere said.