Flyers Have Nothing to Lose in NHL’s 24-Team Playoff Format

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

When Gary Bettman announced the NHL’s return-to-play plan on Tuesday, there was certainly a lot to unpack. Details about the playoff structure, finalists for hub cities which will host the playoff games and draft lottery info were all revealed. There were still several questions that remained unanswered, like when the hub cities would be announced and ultimately when the playoffs would begin and how long each series would be.

One thing that was confirmed is the Flyers place in all of this. With the regular season officially over, they are locked in as the fourth seed in the Top 4 of the Eastern Conference, meaning they will not be subject to the qualifying round that teams seeded 5 through 12 will.

That alone is a victory for the Flyers. The last thing any team should want to do is go through training camp and have to come back and play very meaningful games with your season on the line in a best-of-five series. The Flyers will simply participate in a Round Robin tournament with the other three teams at the top of the Eastern Conference with no risk of losing their place among the final 16 teams left in the playoff picture.

But it gets better for the Flyers. As the fourth seed, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Outlines Tentative Return to Play Plan

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Things have moved quickly since the NHL proposed a 24-team playoff structure and put it to a vote for the NHLPA just last week. The players voted to approve the system, and by Monday, a memo was sent for the protocol for moving to Phase 2 of a four-phase plan for return.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made a formal announcement on Tuesday afternoon to detail the rest of this four-phase plan and break down the playoff structure and draft lottery protocols as the NHL strives to make a return to play.

Bettman started by indicating that the most important factor in all of this is the safety and health of the players, coaches and all personnel involved with the game. Bettman added that the reason for putting together this plan is because both fans and players have expressed a desire to have the NHL return. Bettman added that all guidance in a return to play will come from civil and medical officials and that the NHL will not resume play until they are given the clearance to do so.

So now, to the details of the return to play plan.

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NHL Takes Steps Toward Phase 2 of Return

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

While the rest of us were enjoying the holiday weekend, the NHL was hard at work taking the next steps to a return to play and there is now a concrete step that would allow players to begin training again.

The NHL released a memo on Monday that detailed the steps of Phase 2 in a return to play. The 29-page memo states targeting an early-June date for a move to Phase 2. In Phase 2, teams will be allowed to open practice facilities and permit a maximum of six players at one time to engage in individual training. For NHL players specifically, this would include ice time. All ice time would feature players only with no coaches or other personnel allowed on the ice.

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Flyers Greatest Moments: Firsts and Lasts of the Spectrum

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

In 1966, the city of Philadelphia was granted a franchise in the NHL as part of the expansion era. With hockey coming to Philadelphia, Ed Snider needed a home for his new franchise and ground broke on June 1, 1966 on the Spectrum.

Just over a year later on Sept. 30, 1967, the Spectrum was open for business, hosting its first event, the Quaker City Jazz Festival. The two-day concert took place on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 and the first night of the event was delayed by 55 minutes due to traffic tie-ups in the parking lots. The last act of the night finished at 3 a.m. as a result. The next day, a crowd of 17,500 fans attended the Quaker City Jazz Festival, marking the largest indoor audience in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania history.

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NHLPA Approves 24-Team Playoff, Authorize Further Negotiations

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The NHLPA Executive Board had a call on Thursday to discuss the proposed 24-team playoff structure for the NHL’s return to play. On Friday, the NHLPA officially announced approval of the 24-team structure and authorized further negotiations with the NHL in pursuing the return to play.

"The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup. Several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play," the NHLPA said in a statement released on Friday night.

There were a number of issues presented during what was described as “spirited if not raucous” by TSN’s Bob McKenzie. Among the issues that brought about such great emotion were testing, player safety, players leaving their families, pay and the belief that this issue should be a full-player vote and not just the Executive Board, where each team has one representative. Despite the passion, which made the call heated at times according to McKenzie, the vote was nearly unanimous to move ahead with the format, resulting in a 29-2 vote.

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Flyers Greatest Moments: The Eric Lindros Trade and Debut

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

One of the most prolific players in Flyers history is Eric Lindros. From his infamous arrival in 1992 to his rather unceremonious exit in 2000, Lindros’ career was always shadowed with controversy.

That said, when he was at his best and his healthiest, Lindros was a dominant player. Had his career not been cut short due to injuries and concussions, he was on his way to topping 1,000 career points and having a bonafide Hall-of-Fame career. And while he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2018, it has sometimes been forgotten just how good he was in an era when many Hall of Famers suited up.

Here is a look at the early portion of Lindros’ career, from his acquisition to his debut.

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Report: NHL, NHLPA Working On 24-Team Playoff Setup

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

As the sports world enters Month 3 without any games, there seems to be progress being made on many fronts to get the major sports leagues back up and running sometime soon. The NHL was reportedly making some major progress in this area when a huge hurdle was thrown in the way.

On Tuesday, it was announced that the US-Canada border would remain closed for the next month to non-essential travel. This meant that a number of Canadian star players -- including names like Claude Giroux and Carter Hart for the Flyers -- would have to remain in Canada and continue training there unless an exception was granted.

While there is no update on that front, there is some hope that the NHL could have an outline for what the structure would look like when play is allowed to resume.

It has been widely reported that the league would potentially do away with the rest of the regular season and instead open up the playoffs to 24 teams, allowing for more games to be played and allowing any team that was within relative striking distance of the playoffs at the time of the pause a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup.

On Wednesday night, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the NHL and NHLPA is working toward a 24-team playoff setup that would be conference-based and it certainly has an interesting structure.

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Flyers Greatest Moments: The Streak

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

At the start of the 1979-80 season, the Flyers opened with a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Oct. 11. Two nights later, they lost to the Atlanta Flames, 9-2. Their third game of the season was the next night on Oct. 14, and the Flyers squeaked out a 4-3 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That was the start of a streak that lasted nearly three months and spanned 35 games. Nothing has approached it since either.

Here is a look back at another Flyers Greatest Moment, the Streak.

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Flyers Greatest Moments: Remembering Pelle Lindbergh

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

For the past few weeks, we have been looking back at some of the greatest moments in Flyers history that happened outside of the playoffs and some of the legendary playoff series. Today, the series of greatest moments continues with a moment that is not a great moment, but a tribute to one of the greatest players the franchise has ever known.

In 1979, the Flyers drafted a young goaltender out of Sweden and his name started to become known in the 1980 Winter Olympics. During the 1980-81 season, he made his way over to North America and joined the Flyers AHL team, the Maine Mariners. In 1982, he made his NHL debut. By 1983, he was a full-fledged rookie on the Flyers, posting a 23-13-3 record with a 2.98 GAA and .891 save percentage in 40 games and being named to the NHL All-Rookie team. 

After another season of working in a tandem, the Flyers unleashed this young goaltending prodigy on the hockey world in the 1984-85 season. In 65 games, Pelle Lindbergh had 40 wins to lead the league and took home the Vezina Trophy with a 3.02 GAA and .899 save percentage. The Flyers made a run to the Stanley Cup Final that season, with Lindbergh posting a 12-6 record in 18 games with a 2.50 GAA, a .914 save percentage and three shutouts. Unfortunately, Lindbergh and the Flyers met an All-World group in the Edmonton Oilers in the Final, and after winning Game 1 handily, lost the next four in a row. Lindbergh didn’t get the start in Game 5 after losing three straight games.

Following up on his Vezina-winning season, Lindbergh was off to another great start in 1985-86. Through 12 games, the Flyers were 10-2-0 and had an eight-game winning streak entering a game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 7.

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Flyers Greatest Moments: The Shootout

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

In April 2010, the Flyers were finishing up a tumultuous season that featured a mid-season firing of their head coach and were clinging to the final playoff spot into the final week of the season.

On Friday night, April 9, a win over the Rangers would take care of everything and lock them into the playoffs, but the Rangers held off the Flyers in a 4-3 win to extend the season to the final day. The task was simple: the winner of the final game was going to the playoffs and the loser, no matter how it happened, was going into the offseason.

The scene shifted to Philadelphia for the final game on April 11 and it set up one of the best finishes and a memorable playoff run.

Here is a look back at the Shootout.

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