'Togetherness' of 1973-74 Flyers unprecedented

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'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.

Flyers Notes: Focus of trade rumors, Mark Streit wants to stay with team

Flyers Notes: Focus of trade rumors, Mark Streit wants to stay with team

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Two days before the NHL trade deadline, Mark Streit is content.
 
Not with how the Flyers are playing or anything even close to that.
 
The 39-year-old defenseman is content with his role on the Flyers and would very much like to complete his fourth and final season with the club to the bitter end.
 
Whether that's the playoffs or going home early.
 
Somewhere out there, there's a playoff club with a struggling power play that could use his skill set. Perhaps San Jose, which has a poor power play. Yet the Sharks are in need of a scoring winger, not another blueliner.
 
As an unrestricted free agent, Streit is a perfect candidate to be moved at this point.
 
"I don't know, to be honest," Streit said on Monday. "I don't know. Maybe there is a demand for me. I don't really think about it.
 
"I'm an older guy and my contract is up. Usually, you talk about those guys being dealt. That is just the nature of the business. But I love being here, love the guys and love the team. I want to win with this team."
 
The Flyers aren't going to win the Stanley Cup this season. Right now, they're not even going to make the playoffs.
 
Kimmo Timonen was a Flyer a few years ago, missed nearly the entire 2014-15 season with blood clots, and when he was finally allowed to play, asked to be traded to a playoff contender.
 
Timonen won a Cup with Chicago.
 
Streit has a modified no-trade clause and can give the Flyers a list of 10 clubs to be traded to.
 
"[Timonen] was in a little bit of a different situation," Streit said. "He didn't play a big part of the year and he came back and we were out of the playoffs.
 
"If I were 100 percent sure this was my last year and I would retire, then I would probably look at it differently. I still feel great, I still want to play. So this is a little different.
 
"I am not looking like I want to get dealt and go to a contender or anything like that. That's why I don't look at it like Kimmo's situation."
 
It's entirely possible the Flyers move Streit and then re-sign him for one year to act as a veteran presence in the dressing room next season to bring along some of the younger defensemen, perhaps Robert Hagg and/or Sam Morin or Travis Sanheim.
 
Streit told CSNPhilly.com Monday even if he finishes the season here, he would like to return to the Flyers on a short-term deal to help transition some of the young talent the Flyers are expected to promote next season.
 
"It's on my mind," Streit said. "We're going to have a lot of free agents (defensemen) and maybe there's going to be changes and maybe not.
 
"There's young guys on the team. ... I would like doing that, like I have with Ghost [Shayne Gostisbehere] and Provy [Ivan Provorov] and I think it'd be a great thing to do. I've already thought about that and yeah, it's an option for sure."
 
Group meeting
Streit was part of a leadership group meeting at center ice Monday at Skate Zone during Flyers practice with coach Dave Hakstol. Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds were included, as well.
 
Neither Hakstol nor those involved in the meeting would speak to its specifics.
 
"When you win 10 in a row, everything is easy," Streit said. "Everybody is happy and everything works itself out. Times like [this] it's up to guys in the room to lead by example.
 
"If you play good, you've got to play great. If you're playing great, you've just got to play a little bit better and help the team in a good way, a positive way. You can only do it as a team ... you're not going to do it as individuals."
 
Giroux offered his take on the meeting, as well.
 
"We have to find a way to win hockey games," Giroux said. "Everybody is frustrated right now. We can't be pointing fingers.
 
"Everybody needs to be a little bit better and give a little more and go one game at a time here. Tomorrow, we're back in front of our fans. We've got to get this win, we know that. We've just got to keep at it."
 
Loose pucks
Steve Mason is expected to start in goal Tuesday against Colorado after sitting six consecutive games. ... Travis Konecny (ankle and knee) skated with assistant coach Ian Laperriere and then participated in limited practice with the team. He could return by the weekend. 

Brandon Manning suspended 2 games for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

Brandon Manning suspended 2 games for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning was suspended two games for his illegal hit to Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel during Saturday's 4-2 loss in the Stadium Series game at Heinz Field.
 
Manning's shoulder made contact with Guentzel's head.
 
Manning wasn't surprised and even admitted to reporters that he fully expected "one or two" games because he hit a player who didn't have control of the puck yet.
 
Strangely, there was no penalty on the play for interference, yet the NHL's explanation on Monday afternoon specifically cited "interference" as the reason for the suspension.
 
This is Manning's first NHL suspension.
 
The hearing was conducted on the phone Monday with Stephane Quintal, senior vice-president of NHL Player Safety. Manning will forfeit $10,833.34 in salary.
 
"It was late," Manning said of the hit. "He didn't touch the puck after it hit his skate, which I thought he was going to do. They do their whole breakdown by time frame."
 
Manning said he caught Guentzel's shoulder first, then his head "on the follow through" because Guentzel is shorter than him. The 6-foot-1 Manning has two inches on Guentzel.
 
Guentzel, who had two assists in the game, was not injured.
 
"Looking at it, [the hit] is a little late," Manning admitted. "I thought he was going to touch the puck. Usually, when a puck hits your skate, you pick it up, and he kinda left it. ... The hard part is, there was no penalty called on it."
 
Manning said he had to make a hit or face an odd-man rush.
 
"There were two players there and if I don't play my guy there, it’s a 3-on-1 the other way," he said. "You're giving up scoring chances. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt. He finished the game and that's always the good thing."
 
Mark Streit, sitting on the bench at the time, said he saw the hit and was shocked at the suspension.
 
"It was a great hit," Streit said. "You look at the replay and everything looks different. You can slow down every hit and talk about it. I guess it was a little late ..."
 
Manning's suspension likely means Michael Del Zotto will play against Colorado on Tuesday.
 
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said Manning has been a "solid piece" for the club this season.
 
"He brings that physical edge, he's been reliable, and he's been a staple for our lineup," Hakstol said. "That's a hole we'll have to fill over next couple of games here."
 
Manning will also miss Thursday's game against Florida.