Clarke's Comments Bring About Another Revisit of 2017 Draft for Flyers

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

In light of recent events with the groundbreaking comments made by Philadelphia Flyers legend Bobby Clarke and the comments he made on “The Cam and Strick Podcast” with former NHL enforcer Cam Janssen and NHL reporter Andy Strickland, it’s time to look back at the 2017 NHL Draft once more.

Clarke went on the podcast, and discussed that former GM Ron Hextall was the one who went against his own scouts’ advice to take defenseman Cale Makar or even Miro Heiskanen and instead selected Brandon Wheat Kings’ star forward Nolan Patrick. Not only are we reviewing the pick itself, but alongside the Brayden Schenn trade on the night of the 2017 NHL Draft, as well as who else the Flyers could have drafted. Back in January 2018, I revisited the Schenn trade, but it’s time to revisit it a little more since time has passed.

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Flyers Starting to See Return of Injured Players

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

It’s no secret that the Philadelphia Flyers are having one of their worst seasons in recent memory. It includes a 10-game losing streak and the firing of head coach Alain Vigneault and assistant coach Michel Therrien in the last week.

To be fair, the Flyers have been decimated by injuries since the new season began, most notably to Ryan Ellis, Kevin Hayes, and more recently Joel Farabee. There have been other injuries to some of the Orange and Black’s top prospects who are on the cusp of making the NHL, including Wade Allison, Cam York, Tyson Foerster, Zayde Wisdom, and Tanner Laczynski.

Foerster, unfortunately, is most likely out for the rest of the season after crashing into the boards and injuring his shoulder. Laczynski is also likely out for the year with a hip injury, and has had horrible luck with injuries. Last year, he was also out for the season to receive hip surgery, and just five months later, needed surgery on his other hip, his current injury.

The Flyers have had nothing but injury after injury to key players, young and old. Thankfully, things seem to be back on track with getting some important young stars back in action.

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Journeyman Brassard Fitting Right In with Flyers

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Typically, when an NHL player jumps around the league and plays for nine teams throughout his career there is a major issue. However, for Derick Brassard, he’s been able to prove why he’s an exception.

As a former sixth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Brassard had spent six relatively strong seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, netting 58 goals and 169 points in 309 games. Since then he has played for the New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, and Arizona Coyotes, all prior to joining the Philadelphia Flyers during the offseason.

Now at 34 years-old, the 15-year NHL veteran is making an immediate impact with the Orange and Black, scoring five points in his first three games with the team. He is certainly making his time count while usual second-line center Kevin Hayes finishes recovering from an abdominal surgery that takes six-to-eight weeks to heal.

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What Should the Flyers Expect from Joel Farabee?

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

From the day he was drafted, it took only one full season for Joel Farabee to make his NHL debut during the 2019-20 season. That was all possible due to a blockbuster trade during the 2017 NHL Draft, one that sent Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for the 27th overall pick, a conditional 2018 first-round pick, and Jori Lehtera. The conditional 2018 first-rounder, which was 14th overall, was used by the Flyers to select Farabee.

Fast forward to the 2019-20 season, where the 6'0", 164-pound left winger showed the mindset of a veteran throughout the 52 games he played in a season shorted due to the pandemic, scoring eight goals and 21 points. In his second season in the league, the 56-game 2020-21 season, the now 21-year-old from Syracuse, NY, would exceed expectations, going from the 21-point total as a rookie to 38 points, including 20 goals.

Farabee was rewarded this offseason with a six-year, $30 million ($5 million AAV) contract extension, which will kick in during the 2022-23 season.

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What’s Next for Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher?

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

It’s no secret that this year’s Philadelphia Flyers team has severely underperformed, but after a while there’s only so much you can do pointing fingers at the person to blame.

In years past, it was the coach or the system from Dave Hakstol’s coaching, and Craig Berube’s system with the type of players he had as head coach. Then there was the GM, from Paul Holmgren handing out awful contracts or making embarrassing trades left and right – Andrew MacDonald’s six-year $30 million extension, or Ilya Bryzgalov’s nine-year $51 million deal. However, after a while there’s only so much blame you can put on management, and that is when the blame needs to be shared by the players themselves.

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Flyers Getting the Expected Power-Play Production from van Riemsdyk

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly writer 

After signing a huge five year $35 million contract during the 2017-18 offseason, James van Riemsdyk gave hope to fans of the Philadelphia Flyers and their fans who were looking for a goal scorer, rightfully so as van Riemsdyk was a top free agent that offseason who was coming off of a career season with 36 goals, 11 of them on the power play.

The issue is when GMs hand out large contracts to players who are expected to perform, and they don’t right away, it causes people to overreact quite similar to how a young star player who is drafted high in the first round doesn’t live up to expectations.

Goal scorers can be streaky, and van Riemsdyk is no exception as he has gone numerous of games without scoring before. Despite battling through injuries, and long droughts, the now 31-year-old is still a driven force for the Orange and Black.

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To the Man Who Inspired the World of Hockey

Doc and I

“It’s a noble thing to aspire to, we don’t cure people of dyer ills and illnesses, in our line of work, but I think we do something else that’s heartening for not only people who listen but also for us. We take their minds off of their troubles in the world for two and a half to three hours and if their fans, they focus an awful lot of their enjoyment in life on following their team and their athletes and so we’re not the players, we’re not that important, it’s between the fans and the players. And there is responsibility there that enables us to treat it like a profession rather than like a hobby.” – Mike “Doc” Emrick

Mike Emrick has been broadcasting hockey for nearly 50 years. His incredible, and astonishing career has sadly come to an end, but more importantly how did a man from La Fontaine, Indiana mostly known for Basketball, get to broadcast Hockey for that long? Here is his how he became a broadcaster in the NHL.

The man known by everybody as “Doc” saw his first hockey game as a junior high school student at Fort Wayne, Indiana on Dec. 10, 1960 and it took 13 years before he actually was a hockey broadcaster. It took him a while as he sent out tape after tape. He was in graduate school attending Miami University and finished with a Master’s Degree, but didn’t have a job. He took a teaching job at a small college called Geneva. After his first year, he realized he had some spare time in addition to teach classes so he went to the editor of the Beaver County Times and volunteered to cover the 1970-71 Pittsburgh Penguins, who were only 35 miles away, in exchange for a free media pass. That got him inside the locker room to work and learn more about how the game of hockey was broadcast.

Two years later, Emrick sent out more tapes of himself broadcasting while sitting in the corner of an arena, despite never having a chance to broadcast anybody. He thought to himself that it wouldn’t work out so well, therefore he figured he would get an advanced degree that would enable him to teach at a college for the rest of his life. Both Bowling Green, and Michigan offered him assistantships where he could teach classes, and study for the doctorate. The deciding factor was that Bowling Green had a program where they did the home hockey games on radio, and a staff member of the station did the 1st and 3rd periods, while a student announced the 2nd period. The previous student who broadcasted the 2nd periods had graduated so they gave Doc the chance to broadcast every 2nd period of the hockey games in addition to teaching the two classes, and advance study of this degree.

Finally, in 1973, Emrick was finishing his course work, and sent out tapes one more time; this time radio stations in Port, Michigan called and said “why don’t we come up and talk about it for $160 a week?” After that, he was a professional.

Seven years later, he would call his first career NHL game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Penguins. It was on the home paid cable system called Prism, which fans paid a monthly fee for to get the Philadelphia Phillies, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Flyers home games. He was the home announcer as well as the TV producer for half of the road games. Hall-of-Fame announcer Gene Hart was the Flyers announcer on radio when they had home cable games and on television when the team traveled.

Emrick spent his time in Philadelphia from 1980-1983, and 1988-1993, he was also known for his incredible work with the New Jersey Devils from 1983-1986, and 1993-2011 before sticking with NBC Sports for the remainder of his career. According to NBC Sports, Emrick had called almost 4,000 professional and Olympic hockey games, including a remarkable 22 Stanley Cup Finals.

Not only is Doc an eight time Emmy award winner, he is the only broadcaster to be in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, along with another amazing feat of being the only broadcaster to be in both the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 74-year-old legend is also in seven hall of fames, something that is as rare as it gets.

All in all, to the man who inspired the world of hockey, you have been the perfect role model for an aspiring broadcaster; young or old, an incredible person, and even better friend. I have been so grateful for the opportunities in life to not only meet you, but interview you, and talk hockey. Thank you for everything you’ve done for not only myself, but for the sport of hockey, and the world of broadcasting. The sports world will NEVER be the same without your famous calls. I will sorely miss your “OFF THE POST WITH THE SHOT!” And many more. I still remember to this day my first interview with you in 2014 while I was a freshman in college and I had asked you the question “How much longer are you looking to do play by play for NBC, hockey and the NHL in general and what do you think you’ll be doing afterwards?"

You had thought about it for a second and gave me an answer only the great Doc Emrick would give:

"I don’t know… I don’t think I’m one of those guys who will want to go into work if I’m not happy with what I’m doing. I don’t know when that day is going to come. Normally with people in a performance business like this and you can compare it to athletes as well; either they aren’t satisfied with their work, their boss isn’t satisfied with their work, or both and that time the invitation is usually given to find something else. But you always like to think that you can call that day yourself. I’m still satisfied and my bosses are with the work that I’m doing, but if that day comes because they have been very fair with me in terms of my work load as well as paying me, you know barring anything that collapses in the economic world, Joyce and I will be fine. It’s just that she encourages me to work for as long as I enjoy it and I still do. And as long as my bosses enjoy what they’re hearing, then I’m just going to keep on."

Enjoy retirement, and keep on Doc...

The Fine Line Between Health and High Expectations for Nolan Patrick

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

As a first-round pick, there are going to be high expectations. As a Top-10 pick, there are going to be higher expectations. However, if you’re the second overall pick in a draft, you are going to have to exceed some of the highest expectations imaginable.

That’s the case for Philadelphia Flyers forward Nolan Patrick, who was drafted at that spot in the 2017 NHL Draft. Despite making the team right out of camp, Patrick has only played 145 games out of a possible 233 NHL games. Due to injuries, and now his migraine disorder that was announced back in September, Patrick has only played in 62 percent of possible games with the Orange and Black. In those 145 games played, the 21-year-old has scored 13 goals in each of his first two seasons, while tacking on 17 and 18 assists respectively. In total, he has scored 61 points, as well as 2 points in six career playoff games.

Although his numbers don’t show it, the Manitoba native has shown flashes of greatness. His puck handling skills, and playmaking ability will make him a great threat to play against further down the road. That, however, is the next question. With Patrick not playing a single game this year in 2019-2020, when will he return?

That million-dollar question that everyone wanted answered was brought up by GM Chuck Fletcher when he spoke to the media on Monday. Patrick was not on the Flyers Phase 3 roster. His season is over.

“Our focus is on getting him ready for the 2020-2021 season," Fletcher said. "We want to be prudent and prioritize his health and safety in the long run. We have a short run way here before we jump right into playoff hockey."

Since April 2, 2019, Patrick has not played an NHL game including the 142-day pause during the pandemic. Overall, he has missed 470 days.

After news broke that Patrick was diagnosed with the migraine disorder, one of the other important questions was asked back in September. Are the migraines connected in any way to a few plays that previously happened regarding Patrick's concussion history?

“The doctors don't believe so. I can't fully speak for the doctors," Fletcher said. "Clearly at the end of last season, he took a slap shot in the neck area, back of the head area, in Long Island. He felt good after that and sometime in the summer, he let us know that he was having headaches from time to time. It wasn't constant. We've spent time, Nolan spent the time, trying to get to the root of it. I think we feel comfortable now that it's a migraine issue. It's not a concussion, according to the doctors. Nolan does have a history of migraines, going back to when he was younger -- he had some in minor hockey, in junior hockey. There's a family history, as well. I think at this point; he feels relieved to know what it is. It's been periodic migraines and cluster headaches throughout the summer and I think he was concerned and we were concerned. The doctor feels that there's a regimen you can put him on and with medication, we can control the situation and we're hopeful.”

Fletcher isn’t the only one concerned about Patrick’s health, and when he can jump back on the ice. His teammate Jake Voracek spoke to the media back in February about what it could be like that Patrick is going through.

"I don’t think many of us can imagine what he has to go through," Voracek said. "Third year, contract year, expecting big things out of him and all of a sudden you’re out for three quarters of a season. It’s really hard mentally. When he’s going to come back, I’m sure it’s going to make him stronger because it’s really hard to go through. I can’t wait to see him back on the ice during a game.”

Even Patrick himself spoke to the Philadelphia media at one point in December with high expectations as well. He said he expected to play this year and was hoping to get back soon. However, with no timeframe it was tough to say. It’s even more difficult to say during the COVID-19 pandemic causing the season to be delayed. Patrick, did however take part in skills practices and skated in the weeks leading up to the pause, which was a tremendous sight to see.

Migraines are not to be taken lightly. For those who have never had one, here is what it’s like to go through one. You could have little to no energy when you receive a migraine, and when that happens the only thing that crosses your mind is that you want to go to bed and just sleep. The pain in your head could be caused anything, however if you through a concussion or two -- as part of the injury history for Patrick, let alone anyone -- those migraines occur more often. A migraine disorder could put someone through weekly migraines let alone multiple migraines throughout the week. Other symptoms that can be caused by migraines besides fatigue include vomiting, sensitivity to noise and a pulsating and pounding pain going through your head.

Obviously, Patrick has high expectations for himself, as he is a natural competitor. The fans of Philadelphia are known for being hard on their players if they don’t perform well. They have the highest standards of their teams no matter what sport it is because that’s Philadelphia. These diehard fans will always support and love their teams no matter what. But by the end of the day, what matters most is the health of a 21-year-old hockey player. It is a physically and mentally brutal process that Patrick is going through. Although he is attempting to get back out on the ice as soon as he can, he needs to be cautious with the violent sport we all know and love if he wants a long, and successful NHL career.

What Makes Alain Vigneault the Perfect Coach for Philadelphia

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Looking back in hindsight makes everything easier, whether it’s decisions made by a GM, coach, or owner. After the Philadelphia Flyers fired head coach Dave Hakstol on December 17, 2018, they waited until after the season to announce the next head coach of the team. On April 15, 2019, the Flyers announced the hiring of Alain Vigneault as the 21 coach in franchise history.

Leading up to the decision made in April, it was long rumored that the Flyers were interested in hiring another coach with quite the track record, Joel Quenneville. Instead, Quenneville chose to join the Florida Panthers. Vigneault was the best option available as the Flyers conducted their search for a new head coach, and it's proving to work out rather well for both sides.

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Why the Timing of Wyatte Wylie's Deal with Flyers?

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Last Tuesday, the Flyers announced the signing of 20-year-old defenseman Wyatte Wylie to an entry-level contract that will begin in 2020-21.

So why now? Why would the Flyers push to get Wylie signed with the season still far from over, now that it is currently suspended by the NHL?

The reason was that Wylie was going to become an RFA at the end of the year. More importantly Philadelphia has a diamond in the rough.

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