For Lindros, LeClair, Desjardins, Flyers HOF overdue

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For Lindros, LeClair, Desjardins, Flyers HOF overdue

When CSNPhilly.com asked fans several years ago to pick an all-time Flyers roster, we divided it into eras and then pitted each era’s top player against each other by position.

Not surprisingly the three players who will be inducted into the Flyers’ Hall of Fame this coming season were each the No. 1 finisher in their 1990s era: John LeClair as the best left wing, Eric Lindros as the club’s top center and Eric Desjardins as the top defenseman (see story).

Fans also voted LeClair as the all-time No. 1 Flyers left wing ahead of Bill Barber. Lindros was second to Bob Clarke and Desjardins was second to Mark Howe on the blue line.

LeClair, Lindros and Desjardins represented the core base of the Flyers in the mid-1990s into the early 2000s, which makes it all the more fitting that they go into the club’s Hall of Fame in the same season.

Since Desjardins' retirement in 2006, no player has rivaled his speed, smooth skating and strong right-handed shot from the point.

For many Flyers fans, he’s the standard of measurement on the blue line, mostly because more current fans saw him play as a Flyer than Howe, who began his professional career in mid-1970s.

Desjardins was a record seven-time winner of the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the club’s top defenseman with 396 points in 738 career games, second only to Howe (480 points). Desjardins anchored the Flyers' power play from the moment he arrived in the trade that also brought LeClair from Montreal back in 1995.

Lindros and LeClair are forever linked as meat of the famed “Legion of Doom” line with Mikael Renberg that tore up the NHL in the mid- to late-1990s. They combined for 225 goals and 490 points between 1995 and 1997.

Lindros was the ultimate power forward of his generation. His 659 points at center are third all-time as a Flyer in 486 games. Were it not for injury that cost him to miss the equivalent of two-plus seasons in Philadelphia, there’s no telling where those stats would have gone.

Lindros remains among the top 10 all-time Flyers in five categories: goals (290), assists (369), points (659), power-play goals (82) and hat tricks (11).

LeClair, who is among the most popular Flyers ever, had the hardest -- and scariest -- shot from the left circle of any player in this city. It simply had deadly accuracy.

He is third all-time among Flyers left wings with 643 points. His 333 goals rank fifth, and were it not for a debilitating lower back situation (herniated disks and subsequent surgeries) late in his career, there’s no question LeClair would have surpassed Clarke (358) as No. 4 on the goal list and probably No. 3 Tim Kerr (363), as well.

Most fans wonder why Lindros and LeClair were not selected to the Flyers' HOF sooner. A number of reasons probably.

It took the Flyers organization and this city’s fan base a long time to resolve its feelings about Lindros when he refused to play in 2000, sat the season out -- though he suffered from post-concussion syndrome -- then forced a trade to the Rangers in 2001.

It would take nearly a decade before fans throughout hockey realized that Lindros was at the forefront of concussion injuries, treatment and the long-term effect of post-concussion syndrome.

By the time Lindros returned here for the 2012 Winter Classic, people’s opinions changed about him and he was again embraced, even by the club and especially Clarke, his longtime sparring partner off the ice.

LeClair’s story is more complicated because he was released a quarter-way into his final NHL season with Pittsburgh (2006-07) and later declined the opportunity to sign a one-day contract so he could retire as a Flyer.

The idea had been discussed many times, yet when LeClair left the game, he simply blended into the background and never sought any further recognition in hockey or from the Philadelphia community.

Now he’s coming back.

“All three players are among the greatest in the history of the Flyers and are very deserving to join our Hall of Fame,” Flyers president Paul Holmgren said.

Indeed, it’s been a long time coming.

Battling for Phantoms job, goalie Alex Lyon solid in NHL preseason debut

Battling for Phantoms job, goalie Alex Lyon solid in NHL preseason debut

When the Flyers signed Yale goalie Alex Lyon last April, they knew they were getting a competitive guy who was a finalist for the Mike Richter Award.
 
What they didn’t know, however, was likely how he could stand on his head and keep an undermanned squad in an exhibition game with just three NHL players on his side.
 
The Flyers lost 2-0 to the Devils on Monday night against a New Jersey lineup that was far superior and kept the puck in Lyon’s end two-thirds of the game.
 
Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers open their home preseason schedule against the Islanders with a legit lineup.
 
Lyon, who posted a 1.64 goals against average and .936 save percentage last season in college, was outstanding against the Devils with 28 saves on 29 shots (one empty netter).
 
“I had shaky legs until the middle of the first and then I felt I had settled in,” the 23-year-old said. “I guess I didn’t expect that.”
 
Exhibition games don’t mean much but this was a performance worth noting because Lyon showed he will challenge Anthony Stolarz for the starter’s job with the Phantoms this season. 

“Alex Lyon had a solid performance right from start to finish,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “Great demeanor and presence. Just a real steady performance all the way through.”
 
The kid seemed undaunted by the Devils' lineup in what was his first-ever start against an NHL club. Notice anything different from college?
 
“The biggest difference is six months ago, I was watching Travis Zajac on TV and now I am playing an exhibition game against him,” Lyon replied. “It was pretty cool going up against those guys.”
 
The Devils attacked him mostly with angled shots. So eager they were to test him, they put a shot on goal from their own blue line in the opening minutes of the game, which Lyon saved.
 
“Yeah, I think they were trying to throw some pucks and my rebound control wasn’t as good as it usually is,” Lyon said. “I think it’s because I was a little nervous. I was just trying to stop the puck to be honest, that is all I was thinking about.”
 
Lyon stopped two breakaway attempts from Beau Bennett, both coming in the opening two periods. The only goal from Nick Lappin came on a second rebound in the crease.
 
“They got their point shot through and I saw it clearly the whole way and didn’t react to it,” Lyon said. “I thought it was going to be tipped. There was a forest of sticks as Keith Allain (Yale coach) would say, in front of me.
 
“I was trying to get big in front of it and they took a couple of whacks and subsequently it bounced right to their guy.”
 
While exhibition games mean little to fans, it meant something to him.
 
“I told my roommate in Philly I was playing my first NHL game,” Lyon said. “Yeah, it’s preseason but going from college, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
 
Lyon won’t play Tuesday night against the Islanders.
 
On Provorov
Rookie defensive prospect Ivan Provorov, who logged a whopping 28:48 ice time during the loss in New Jersey, will play tonight against the Islanders.
 
The staff wants to get an idea of how he plays with heavy minutes in back-to-back games.
 
“I want to get him into two of the three (exhibitions), assuming he earned it,” Hakstol said. “He did a good job last night. His minutes got high but we wanted to get him into a good situation.
 
“He did a good job and the minutes didn’t seem to wear on him. It will be a challenge playing back-to-back. But that’s one for him and a few others where they have to meet the challenge.”
 
Provorov will be paired with Andrew MacDonald as Hakstol has one vet paired with one prospect in this game.
 
World Cup returnees
Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier both say they want to play games right now to keep themselves in game shape but Hakstol is biding time with them, insisting they get some rest off the ice.
 
“I feel like I’m in midseason form already,” Voracek quipped. “I don’t want to sit around. If I take more than 3-4 days off, I'll put on six pounds. ... I wouldn’t mind playing but obviously, we've got to get some rest. ”
 
Loose pucks
• Other defensive pairs: Nick Schultz and Travis Sanheim; Michael Del Zotto and Philippe Myers.  

• The lines: Jordan Weal will again center Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds; Andy Miele will handle Michael Raffl and Matt Read; Nick Cousins centers Scott Laughton and Dale Weise, which has been a line in camp; and Boyd Gordon will center Chris VandeVelde and Roman Lyubimov.

• Steve Mason will be in goal and Stolarz will back him up.

• Forward Travis Konecny will not play.

Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — How much of a horse is Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov?

Well, consider this:

The 19-year-old logged a game-high 28:48 of ice time Monday night during the Flyers' 2-0 split-squad loss to the Devils in which he also quarterbacked the first-unit power play (8:03) and had the most penalty kill time (3:58) (see story).

“I thought I played well,” Provorov said. “It took me a few shifts to get into the game. I competed as hard as I could.”

He said he was used to playing more than 25 minutes in Brandon (WHL), anyway.

“Of course, this is a better league, high pace and it will take a few games to adjust,” Provorov said.

Because the Flyers have yet to work on power play, the results aren’t there. They were 0 for 7 in the game.

“We haven’t done anything on the ice, but have done some video on the PK on the board but nothing on the power play,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s other priorities now with so many players (64) in camp.”

Provorov worked both points on the power play and had just one official shot in the game.

“We didn’t get to do much power play [in camp],” he said. “It will get better as the preseason goes on.”

Rookie forward Travis Konecny worked the low slot on the top power play. He logged 18:34 of ice time, including 6:01 PP time. Konecny had two shots in the game.

He was on Andy Miele’s line with Scott Laughton. Konency had the only shots on his line.

Hakstol said Konecny and Provorov each “settled in” as the game went on. Hakstol isn’t sure if one or both will play Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center against the Islanders.

Konecny’s body language in camp exudes confidence unlike a year ago when he was skittish in his first-ever Flyers training camp. Now he sits back, takes it all in and has that look on his face of been there, done that.

In fact, he was trying to calm down some of his buddies, Anthony Salinitri and Connor Bunnaman, who were seeing the lights before the game.

“Me and [Ivan] Provorov were just talking,” he said. “We feel a lot more comfortable this year.

“I’ve been in this position here. I have my guys Salinitri and Bunnaman, we all hang out together and it’s their first year.

“They’re excited for their first preseason game just like I was last year, but I’m not thinking, ‘Wow, it’s an NHL arena.’ I’m thinking about the game and getting ready to play.”

Konecny was impressive last fall as an 18-year-old and Hakstol said he takes everything into account with more emphasis on the now than the past.

“Your body of work includes your season last year,” Hakstol  said. “Includes everything. The most important information is what you do right now. No question in my mind. I take everything into account.”

Take this into account: Alex Lyon is going to be a contender with Anthony Stolarz for the starting job in goal with the Phantoms this season. He was outstanding with 28 saves on 29 shots.

“They spent some time in our zone and had their big guns out there,” Lyon said of being under siege for two-thirds of the game. “They had a few shots but we did a good job keeping them to the outside. No super grade A opportunities.”

Lyon stopped two breakaways by Beau Bennett, one within three minutes of play.

“I felt like a newborn deer and could barely stand up,” quipped the former Yale goalie. “I was so nervous. It felt good to stop the first one.”