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.

Continue reading "Flyers Getting the Expected Power-Play Production from van Riemsdyk" »

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.

Continue reading "What Makes Alain Vigneault the Perfect Coach for Philadelphia" »

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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Inconsistencies That Need to Change for Flyers

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Recently, the Philadelphia Flyers (27-17-6) have been on and off their game. Despite two victories over the Los Angeles Kings and the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers still currently sit out of the playoff race. In their last 10 games, the Orange and Black are just 5-4-1, largely due to a horrible West coast trip in which they went 1-4-1.

Over this stretch of 10 games, several issues of inconsistency have been noticeable. They include the following: slow starts, turnovers, road play and the power play.

Continue reading "Inconsistencies That Need to Change for Flyers" »

Scott Laughton Has Risen to Become Key Member of Flyers' Bottom Six

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

In a way, Scott Laughton is a similar player to fellow Flyer Sean Couturier, at least towards the beginning of his career. He was an offensive threat at the junior level, but when it came to playing in the NHL, Laughton started to struggle on offense.

Both young players began their careers playing a big defensive role, and when the numbers did not show, the fans showed their displeasure. Over the years, Laughton grew as a player, as there were a few major turning points in his career to help polish the player he is today.

The player he was when the Flyers first drafted himge with the 20th overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, included a five-game stint during his "rookie year" in Philadelphia later that fall. He quickly got sent down to the Adirondack Phantoms in the AHL to develop his game. To his credit, he went back to juniors in Oshawa to play for the Generals and scored 87 points, including 40 goals, in 54 games.

That earned him a roster spot the next year in Philadelphia and he played in 31 games, but only putting up six points. With that was another back-and-forth year with the Phantoms, now moved to Lehigh Valley.

Laughton was still a mystery type of player to the organization, unable to find his identity and what type of role he would play with the team. After getting sent down to the AHL for one final time, Laughton had finally made the Flyers in 2017-18 for good. But the key part in his career was when the Flyers decided to protect him from the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. That certainly turned a lot of heads as Laughton was not the team’s best player or even an important one at the time. But former GM Ron Hextall saw something in Laughton that others simply had not, as he not only protected the Oakville, Ontario native but signed him to a two-year extension as well.

Since that moment, and getting sent down to the Phantoms in order to become a more defensive depth player, Laughton has become a crucial member of the Orange and Black’s lineup. He played the best hockey of his NHL career last year, scoring 12 goals and 20 assists for 32 points in all 82 games.

Laughton's game is far more than just putting up points. He plays a key role on the penalty kill and face-off circle. He won 54.17 percent of face-offs last year, and 51.99 percent the year prior. Laughton was certainly a proven center, but the face-off numbers increased dramatically over the years from as little as 43.81 percent to where he is today.

Currently, Laughton is on the shelf for approximately another week with a broken finger, but Laughton himself has mentioned that his earliest target to return is on Nov. 23, the day he can come off of long-term IR. That is if all goes according to plan, of course.

The 25 year-old is one of those players where you might not notice him on every shift during every game, however when he is out of the lineup, you recognize his importance to the team and the rest of the bottom six.

Oskar Lindblom Showing All-Around Skill Set Early in Season

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Ever since being drafted in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2014, Oskar Lindblom has emerged as one of the more under-appreciated two-way forwards on the Flyers, despite a solid career as a two-way forward overseas. While in Sweden, Lindblom was named the 2016-17 Swedish Hockey League Forward of the Year, a tremendous honor in one of the best professional hockey leagues in the world.

Last year, in just his second NHL season, Lindblom notched 33 points in 81 games, including 17 goals, and really showed why he is capable of being a top-six forward in the NHL. The 23-year-old Swede constantly won battles up against the boards, showing off his speed and strength to protect the puck. He is an all-around well-rounded player with a 6'1" frame that he can use to his advantage.

During training camp, James van Riemsdyk had nothing but positive remarks for his young teammate.

"He’s extremely versatile, we’ve seen the different things that he can do," van Riemsdyk said. "He can play with really skilled players, he’s got that skill and that mind for the game, and that allows him to do a lot of different things out there -- whether that’s playing a shutdown role or playing an offensive role."

In the season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks, Lindblom started off on the right note by showing how versatile he was. He scored his first goal of the season -- albeit a fluky one bouncing off of defenseman Slater Koekkoek -- while getting five shots on net in 16:33 of ice time, significantly more than his 13:45 average ice time from the previous season. Not only did he do all the rights things against Chicago, he seemed very confident with the puck, making great passes to his linemates Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny on the second line. The early chemistry he has with Couturier and Konecny shows as he looked much stronger skating wise, and defensively.

"You have to start in the right end, play good defense and go from there," Lindblom said during Flyers training camp. "It’s a long season and you have to be there every day, do your thing, and then you’re going to play and hopefully score some goals."

The next step for Lindblom is to do enough to stay on the second line, and have an even better season to help provide a spark for Philadelphia whether it’s even-strength play, part of the power-play unit, or on the penalty kill. He did receive some ice time on both special team units in the season opener, certainly a step in the right direction to keeping a significant role.

New Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault recently noted how important playing both sides of the puck are.

"What I see is a young man that has got a lot of energy, wants to learn how to play the right way," Vigneault said. "It's not just about offense, he wants to defend and he wants to defend well. A skilled player like that has got to be allowed to try different things, but there are times in a game where your decisions with the puck permit you to continue and go on the attack. The wrong decisions make the other team attack."

Well, Lindblom certainly showed that he was in attack mode against Chicago, and does not look like he will slow down any time soon.

NHL Season Preview: Flyers and NHL Predictions

The beginning of a new season for both the Flyers and the NHL means it’s another chance to be wrong about the upcoming season. Surely, no one could have predicted all of the changes made mid-season by the Flyers during a year that quickly snowballed into another missed playoff appearance.

With the start of another season, our Flyers staff takes a shot at some predictions for both the Flyers and the rest of the league.

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After 2 Trying Seasons, Patrick Needs to Prove Himself in 2019-20


(Photo: Kate Frese)

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The moment that the Philadelphia Flyers discovered that they were going to pick second overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, they knew that they would get an exceptional player in either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier. The New Jersey Devils, who had the first overall pick, decided to go with Hischier, giving the Flyers the option to pick the star center playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings with the second overall selection.

Patrick made the team right out of rookie camp, but unfortunately had a rough start to his rookie season. Just three games into his NHL career, Patrick was hit up high and hard against the boards by then Anaheim Ducks forward Chris Wagner. Right away, Patrick looked shaken up, as he was slow to gather himself on the ice. Slowly but surely, Patrick started to get accustomed to the NHL and although his points didn’t show how lethal he can be, the 18-year-old rookie put up 30 points in 73 games.

Continue reading "After 2 Trying Seasons, Patrick Needs to Prove Himself in 2019-20" »