Friday, June 29, 2012

Flyers bring Terry Murray back ... again

At what used to be considered retirement age, Terry Murray is essentially starting over.
One of the most successful of Flyers head coaches, Murray is back for his third (fourth? fifth?...) stint in the employ of the Flyers. He's taken the head coaching job with the AHL affiliate Adirondack Phantoms. But Murray, who turns 62 on July 20, doesn't consider this minor league assignment as a step down or career restart.
"I don’t think there’s a lot of difference there, quite honestly," Murray said of the difference between the NHL and AHL. "Just the last team that I coached in LA, going back four years ago, that was a team that was very, very young. The youngest team in the NHL ... a lot of guys coming in their first year of pro hockey. There’s guys that I coached that put the Stanley Cup over their head this year that had their first goal, their first save, their first pass, their first hit in the NHL. And some guys had their first time in pro hockey.
"I’ve been through it," Murray added. "I’ve been through it with many teams and young players, and I don’t think the approach changes at all with players in the American Hockey League. I’ve been to the American Hockey League myself and I coached in Baltimore, Washington’s farm team. It’s a process, attention to detail and helping these young guys come out and play instinctively and play the game the right way, and build up as a team.”
Murray also has a little National Hockey League experience -- first with the Capitals, then the Flyers, then the Panthers, then the Kings. Took the Flyers to the Cup finals in 1997 and was fired for his efforts. Set a franchise record for victories in a season in Florida. And, as he indicated, he helped develop some of the Kings that played on this year's championship team before being fired last Dec. 12.
Murray has also gone this minor route before. After being fired from the Capitals, he served a brief stint in the International Hockey League in Cincinnati before Bob Clarke hired him to coach the Flyers in 1994. Over the years, Murray has come and gone in Philly several times, serving as a player, team scout (twice), NHL head coach, NHL assistant coach and now minor league head coach for the organization.
He's a winner. He's a pro. And so what if he's a little retro?
"There wasn’t a lot of stuff coming in from the NHL teams after I got fired in LA," Murray said. "The phone rings for about four or five days and then it goes silent, and there was nothing up until (Paul Holmgren) called me.  I took some time to think about it, and I was thinking back over some of the coaches that I’ve played for, and I remember seeing Pat Quinn coach the Canadian world juniors in Ottawa a few years ago. He’s a coach that I have a great deal of respect for. He took a step back and coached junior hockey and did a tremendous job. He got himself back in the NHL, he ended up in Edmonton after that. He’s a guy who loves to coach, and that’s what I am. I’m a hockey coach.  I love to coach. When Paul presented it to me, in the way that he did – coming back to the Flyers in particular was very exciting, and I feel like it’s a great opportunity to work with young players."
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Murray indicated he'll retain Phantoms assistants Kjell Samuelsson, who might be a bit bummed he didn't get the head job, and Riley Cote. ... The Phantoms will play this season in Adirondack, but things are still planned as far as them eventually relocating to a new building in Allentown. ... Also officially hired to a position with the Flyers Friday was Ian Laperriere, who will be director of player development.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Holmgren working on extending Laviolette's contract

Here's a quick blog item that will top my column of leftover Draft Weekend notes...

PITTSBURGH -- Peter Laviolette did his job this NHL Draft weekend. As the head coach of the Flyers, he dutifully stayed in the team's luxury box at Consol Energy Center, shaking the hands of a few talented teenagers.
"That's about it," Laviolette said.
But it's the job he's done the rest of the year that will soon produce a contract extension for him.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren confirmed Saturday that he's been discussing an extension with Laviolette, and expects one to be soon agreed upon.
"I'm not worried about it," Holmgren said. "Obviously I assume in the next few weeks, we'll get something done."
Laviolette, who replaced John Stevens early in the 2009-10 campaign, is entering his fourth season with the team. The Flyers have gone 122-73-26 under him during the regular seasons and 23-22 in the playoffs. Laviolette's teams have won an Atlantic Division title and made a run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
"We're very happy with Peter," Holmgren said. "He's done a tremendous job and we're looking forward to more good work from him over the coming years."
Laviolette, 47, is the third Flyers coach to take a team through two rounds of the playoffs for three consecutive years. Fred Shero and Terry Murray were the others.

What the NHL Draft wrought for the Flyers

Zipping along ... and wow, this draft's over almost before it began.
Here's a non-detailed list of the Flyers' weekend work:

1     20     (C) SCOTT LAUGHTON     OSHAWA of OHL
2     45     (G) ANTHONY STOLARZ     Goaltender; Corpus Christi (NAHL) and a Jersey Boy
3       78     (D) Shayne Gostisbehre     Union College, going to be a sophomore
4     111     (D) Fredrik Larsson     Brynas-Jr. (Sweden)
4     117     (LW) Taylor Leier     Portland (WHA)
5       171     (D) Reece Willcox    
6                     (No selection for Flyers)
7     201     (D) Valeri Vasilev

Now for the real news, the Flyers are in the conversation for Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle, but might think the price is too high for him. Penguins are very interested in the guy. Otherwise, there's a reason this Day 2 with rounds 2 through 7 took all of 2 hours, 45 seconds to complete -- a record by a longshot. It's because any and all trade talk awas held to a minimum.
It's believed no one at all approached Devils GM Lou Lamoriello and Nashville GM David Poile about trading for the rights to their respective top-shelf unrestricted free agents to be, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. And Paul Holmgren told me that while there's a lot of due diligence to continue conversations in the next week about making a trade move to fill the Chris Pronger hole on defense or in wooing a free agent, nothing substantial is likely to happen before July 1. But he does expect a bit of a frenzy on that day.

More Flyers draft selections

The Flyers, who a year ago took a 6-foot-7 Finnish goalie in Niko Honiven love tall and skinny goalies. So they took 6-5 Anthony Stolarz with the 45th overall pick, but he was a little easier to follow. Stolarz was born in Edison and now lives in Jackson, N.J., home of Mark Howe and Great Adventure.
It's been a hockey adventure for Stolarz, who grew up a Devils fan, went through that team's youth development program, found his way through low minors to Corpus Christi, Texas this year and plans to attend college at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
In the third round, the Flyers finally got defensive, picking a somewhat diminutive (5-11, 160) and offensive capable guy in Shayne Gostisbehere. He's a native of Margate, Fla. and grew up a Panthers fan.
It started to feel like the Flyers were trying to turn their organization into one dominated by Americans.
But in the fourth round, they went back to the good old Canadian kid route, picking a fighting winger from Portland of the WHA, Taylor Leier.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Flyers move Bobrovsky to Columbus

One trade that seemed likely sometime before the season would commence is now happening on this NHL Draft Day. Flyers backup goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who never seemed to mesh well with mega-buck starter Ilya Bryzgalov is on his way to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has confirmed to the Columbus Dispatch that the deal would send three draft picks the Flyers' way, including a second-round pick which will be the 45th overall in the draft. Nothing has been released from the Flyers as yet.
I'm thinking the Flyers might be after that extra high pick to spice up a possible package that they can flip for a name player.
They continue to seek a defenseman, and might be trying to get the rights to Nashville's pending unrestricted free agent Ryan Suter. But with Anaheim Ducks winger Bobby Ryan suddenly becoming very available for a trade, the Flyers might go in that direction and worry about the defense later.
This comes right on the heels of talk that the Flyers likely won't issue an offer sheet for Nashville's other stud defender, restricted free agent Shea Weber.
As for Ryan, he's a native of Collingswood, N.J. has long been a favorite of Flyers management. I think they'd love to add him.
The other possibility is that the ongoing Rick Nash bidding war is heating up today and the Flyers are trying to stay in that.
For them, James van Riemsdyk continues to be very available. The Blue Jackets and maybe the Ducks apparently like Sean Couturier, and the Flyers would likely jump at the chance to do something if given the opportunity for either Ryan or Nash if it costs them anything short of Brayden Schenn.
Parting with him would likely be a last resort leap, one that the Flyers don't want to take.