'Togetherness' of 1973-74 Flyers unprecedented


'Togetherness' of 1973-74 Flyers unprecedented

CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- Joe Watson was surveying the room at the Crowne Plaza, looking for Tom Bladon.

Bladon lives in Calgary and owns a Tim Hortons restaurant. He was last at a Flyers event a few years ago at Ed Snider’s Spectrum-closing bash.

“He’s pretty much the same size now he was then,” Watson said of his portly teammate. “He loves those donuts he sells. It looks like he’s eating most of the bloody profits for cripes sake!”

Always one with a quick one-line that Joe Watson.

Monday night at the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association’s 110th annual banquet, membership honored the 40th anniversary of the Flyers' first Stanley Cup in 1974.

Bill Barber was also honored with the "Living Legend Award."

“There’s a large contingent of guys but they’re scattered around [North America],” said Barber, who played his whole NHL career here and never wanted to leave.

“I loved the city, the fans. I wanted to start and finish my career here and I did. I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”

Barber scouts for the Flyers.

Some things never change even after four decades.

“The character of the guys remained the same,” Barber said. “Their personalities are still the same as back in the heyday. Maybe we’re a little smarter.”

Watson had an answer.

“Our camaraderie never changed,” Watson said. “We’re happy to see each other and had a good time the last few days.

“We’ve had some good functions together and it shows the love and respect we still have for each other. You don’t see that very often in sports.”

Bladon said one thing still resonates from those Cup years.

“Our team was spelled with a capital 'T',” Bladon said. “If you fought one, you fought all of us. It was as simple as that. The togetherness we had as a team, I don’t know if you’ve seen that later.

“Maybe the closest thing to us was the Islanders after us. We were a lot better hockey team than people thought we were.”

Snider has heard such before.

“One of the things about our situation is that I’m still around,” Snider said. “The Islanders don’t have the guys who owned it when they won the Cups. So many of us are still around who were original at that same time.

“I don’t know what other teams do, but I hear we have the best alumni of all. I’m sure Chicago, Montreal, Toronto have great alumni. We take great pride in our alumni organization and we’re proud so many of our guys that played for us are working for us, still."

Snider presented former Eagles general manager Jim Murray with the "Ed Snider Lifetime Humanitarian Award."

Bernie Parent attends every Flyers game with Bob Kelly and Gary Dornhoefer. They eat dinner on the club level many games. Parent still lives on his boat in Cape May, N.J., but now writes a blog for Philly.com imparting his wisdom.

He hadn’t seen Bladon in a decade. Moose Dupont went back to Quebec hours before the event began, but Reggie Leach stuck around and showed up with Parent.

“Even if we haven’t seen each other in a while, when we get together it’s like we just saw each other a week ago,” Parent said. “The body changes, but the mind doesn’t.”

Parent seems to enjoy imparting his philosophy in his blog and even interviews.

“It’s what I believe in,” he said. “I try to bring across two things -- risk and fear. If you don’t take risks, you don’t face fear, you won’t enjoy life.

“You’ll always be hoping and wishing and nothing happens. Everybody in this room is a risk-taker. Doesn’t mean you’ll win every time. But you have a chance to do something.

“The Stanley Cups, you had to have a purpose or you go in circles. My purpose at the time was to win the Cup.

“Whatever is in front of you, to have that purpose, you have to plow through it. If you don’t have purpose and you face an obstacle, you will back away from it and miss great opportunities.”

Bladon says his biggest obstacle was the flooding in Calgary last summer that destroyed properties and closed his string of properties for a week.

“The flooding devastated the place but we survived,” Bladon said. “They shut down power or basically the whole oil and gas industry. Calgary is the heart of the industry.”

This weekend, the heart of those two Flyer teams made it possible for them to get together at the Bruins game, the Flyers Wives Carnival and at the Sports Writers banquet.

“We had a lot of fun this weekend, tell the same old stories and they get better each time,” Snider said. “Just great being with the guys. We’re like a fraternity, almost.

“We had a great affair at the Spectrum Grill. A lot of fans bought tickets for that. The guys said a few words.”

They said a few more on Monday night, too.

Brandon Manning-Ivan Provorov pair to get another shot after strong showing

Brandon Manning-Ivan Provorov pair to get another shot after strong showing

VOORHEES, N.J. – Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol hasn’t had much consistency in his lines early on this season thanks to an array of injuries and suspensions. On the back end, though, the pairings have remained mostly constant through the first five games.

Yet, Hakstol decided to mix things up a bit and put the suddenly productive and confident Brandon Manning with the heralded rookie Ivan Provorov for Saturday’s game with Carolina.

Turns out, that pairing jelled and made an impact in the Flyers' 6-3 victory over the 'Canes.

“I thought they were pretty efficient as a pair,” Hakstol said following Sunday’s practice. “They defended well, they moved pucks out of the zone well and they added to the offense. It was a solid night for that pair.”

Provorov contributed a pair of assists while Manning scored on what Hakstol called “the play of the game," a dazzling goal that saw Manning get 'Canes goalie Eddie Lack down on the ice with a deke and then tuck it home as he skated around the net. Provorov logged 19:36 of ice time with his new partner recording a season-high 18:41.

“I thought we did well as a pairing,” Provorov said. “It was easy, shift after shift, just trying to keep the momentum going.”

The two were together again on Sunday and are expected to team up for their second straight game when the Flyers begin the week with a trip to Montreal to face the Canadiens at the Bell Centre.

In their first outing as defensive partners, it was pretty evident the two worked well together, with both picking their spots to attack on offense with the other laying back. They each have a solid two-way game, as well, proving to complement to one another.

“He’s an easy guy to play with,” Manning said of the 19-year-old Russian rookie. “His English is great. I think he’s just going to keep getting better and better.”

Provorov returned the sentiment, adding that whomever he lines up next to, the goal is to get the most out of each other. He felt that’s exactly what they did Saturday against Carolina.

After five games, Manning (four points - one goal and three assists) and Provorov (three points, all assists) rank second and third in defensive scoring behind Shayne Gostisbehere’s five points (one goal and an assist).

With Radko Gudas set to return to the lineup on Tuesday night against Buffalo as just one more game remains on his six-game suspension and Michael Del Zotto nearing a return, Hakstol will once again be shuffling his defensive pairs in the near future.

Considering how much Gudas and Del Zotto played together last year, they’ll likely return as a pair, meaning another strong showing from the newly formed Provorov-Manning pair against Montreal could cement the two together once the Flyers' have their full arsenal of blue liners available.  

Future Flyers Report: Carter Hart named to Team WHL

Future Flyers Report: Carter Hart named to Team WHL

The Flyers’ season is in full force, with four games on the slate this week beginning Monday in Montreal in the first of a back-to-back set with the Canadiens and Sabres.

Before the puck drops to start the Flyers' week, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

In this edition, we feature a goalie general manager Ron Hextall is high on, another making his pro debut and head overseas to check in on a red-hot Swedish winger.

Carter Hart, G, 6-1/181, Everett (WHL)
The highlight of the week for Hart came Thursday, when the Flyers’ 2016 second-round pick was named to Team WHL for the 2016 CIBC Canada Russia Series, which begins Nov. 7 in Prince George, British Columbia. Hart will share the net with Kamloops netminder Connor Ingram, a 2016 third-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It was an up-and-down week for Hart with the Silvertips, however, the week ended with his best performance of the season in a 3-1 win over Victoria on Saturday night. The 18-year-old stopped 37 of 38 shots, making 20 saves in the third period as the Royals went full throttle in an attempt to come back. (Victoria outshot Everett, 38-13, for the game.) Hart was solid Tuesday, turning aside 21 of 23 shots in a 2-1 loss to Spokane, but was pulled after yielding two goals on five shots in the Silvertips’ 4-3 overtime loss to Kelowna on Wednesday night. It’s been a strong start of the season, though, as he’s 6-2-1 with a 2.08 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage and one shutout.

Alex Lyon, G, 6-1/201, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
The Yale product had a rough professional debut Saturday night, a 5-4 overtime loss to Hartford, but to be fair, it wasn’t a great night for the Phantoms’ defense, either. Lyon surrendered five goals on 34 shots against, but did show glimpses of promise. He faced 18 shots in the second period and stopped 16 of them. He held the fort down in the third period, allowing the Phantoms to tie the game and force overtime. As the AHL schedule ramps up, it’ll be interesting to see how Lehigh Valley head coach Scott Gordon splits time between Lyon and Anthony Stolarz. After the game, Lyon said, via Highland Park Hockey’s Tony Androckitis, about the AHL, “It’s a little bit different (than college). The mood in here after is different. In college, you only get 30 games. Every time you lose a game, you want to sit in for the next 48 hours. Obviously feel it out, get a little bit better.”

Travis Sanheim, D, 6-4/202, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Sanheim, another first-year pro, picked up his second assist of the season Friday night in Lehigh Valley’s 5-2 loss to the Sound Tigers, picking up a secondary helper on veteran Colin McDonald’s second-period marker. On Saturday, however, Sanheim had a bumpy performance against the Wolf Pack. With his partner, Robert Hagg, the pair combined for six penalty minutes and quite a few turnovers. Sanheim was whistled for two stick infractions, and two failed clears on one sequence led to Hagg getting caught for a cross check. Rough night.

Oskar Lindblom, LW/RW, 6-1/192, Brynäs IF (SHL)
If it appears we’re highlighting Lindblom a lot this season, it’s because we are. The 20-year-old continued his scorching start to his campaign last week with a goal and an assist. After 11 games, Lindblom is third on Brynäs IF with 10 points. Last week, Lindblom potted his fifth goal of the season in a 4-2 loss to Karlskrona on Thursday, and then added his fifth assist of the year in a season-high 17:13 during his team’s 5-3 defeat at the hands of Malmö on Saturday. Another productive week for the 2014 fifth-round pick.

Tanner Laczynski, C, 6-0/174, Ohio State (NCAA)
It’s been a pretty impressive start to Laczynski's freshman campaign with the Buckeyes. Laczynski had himself a four-point weekend against Bowling Green, racking up a goal and an assist in each of Friday and Saturday’s games, respectively. He has six points in five games with Ohio State. Laczynski is another curious story. He was eligible for the 2015 draft, but went undrafted. This past June, the Flyers plucked him in the sixth round. He impressed during the World Junior evaluation camp for Team USA in August, and is a candidate to make the team for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. It’ll be fun to track his development at OSU, too.

Quick hits
• It was a tough week for goalie Felix Sandstrom, who surrendered four goals in his only game last week for Brynäs IF, a 4-2 loss to Karlskrona.

Mark Friedman picked up two assists in Bowling Green’s 5-4 loss to No. 19 Ohio State on Friday night.

• Djurgårdens IF defenseman David Bernhardt enjoyed his best week of his young SHL career, scoring his first career goal Friday in a 5-4 loss to Linkoping and picking up an assist Wednesday against in a 3-2 shootout loss to Färjestad.

German Rubtsov had two goals and two assists in three of the Russian Knights’ games last week. He did not play last Monday. He was 42.1 percent in the faceoff circle.

David Kase was pointless in two games last week. He had registered seven points in his previous eight games entering the week.

Connor Bunnaman added a goal and two assists in three games last week for Kitchener. Bunnaman now has seven goals and 11 points in 10 games this season.

• It was a big week for Sarnia’s Anthony Salinitri, who had a hat trick and an assist Thursday against Peterborough and an assist the next night against Oshawa.