Report: NHL, Players Closing in on CBA Deal

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Before the NHL can return to the ice, both the league and players need to work out a lot of the details that will allow it to happen. Notably, this would mean a new CBA and a successful vote that would implement the return-to-play protocols that would set the stage for Phase 3 and 4, including signing off on hub cities and the protocols within each city.

It appears that the long road to return could soon be over. According to a report from ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, the NHL and its players are closing in on a new CBA deal. It was reported that the new deal could be announced “as early as Sunday,” but that timing was characterized as “really fast.”

Even if it takes until early next week for a deal to be finalized, we could finally be learning both the details of the CBA that will allow for the league to resume play and the locations of the two hub cities. The agreement would also involve a vote from all members of the NHLPA on a return to play. As of Friday night, the vote has not yet taken place.

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Report: Mikhail Vorobyev Intends to Sign with KHL

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Flyers have had many recent draft prospects make the jump to the professional ranks and experience some early success. But it has become a crowded list of future talent that could make it difficult for many to reach the ultimate goal.

One player that has certainly been part of the crowded group between the AHL and NHL is Mikhail Vorobyev. Over the last two seasons, Vorobyev has played in 35 NHL games, scoring two goals and adding three assists for five points. In the AHL, he has played 145 games, scoring 28 goals and adding 55 assists for 83 points. 

But for most of his career, it has been an up-and-down trip between the NHL and AHL and with other young players emerging, it was becoming clear that Vorobyev was slipping in the ranks. According to a report, Vorobyev intends to sign with HC Ufa Salavat Yulaev of the KHL in Russia, his home country, on a three-year deal that will cut ties with the Flyers.

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Oskar Lindblom Returns to the Ice for Flyers

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

There are certainly a lot of questions still surrounding the resumption of play for the Flyers and the NHL during the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, despite 11 positive tests out of an excess of 200 tested, the league has moved forward with Phase 2 and still has sights set on starting Phase 3 on July 10.

This has certainly not stopped Flyers players from returning to Voorhees. After six players were initially at the SkateZone for the start of Phase 2, among them Ivan ProvorovSean Couturier and Joel Farabee, several more have come in over the last few days including Nicolas Aube-KubelAlex Lyon and most recently Carter Hart.

There was another player on the ice among the small groups taking part in New Jersey on Tuesday, and it was probably the most welcome sight there could be. Oskar Lindblom, who exited the lineup after his diagnosis with Ewing’s sarcoma in December, was skating.

“I don't have a lot left, I'm going to be done soon," Lindblom said of his treatments. "I can see the light in the tunnel right now and I'm trying to enjoy my life as it is. I can't complain, I can't complain. People have it worse. I'm just happy to be where I am right now.

"It was great. That's the only thing I'm waiting for right now is to be done with my chemo and get back with the team and play some hockey. That would be unreal to get back to real life again and have fun.”

Lindblom said he has skated only three or four times since his diagnosis. It is very likely that he had the approval of doctors before taking the ice with a small group of teammates.

GM Chuck Fletcher offered some comments on Lindblom’s return to the ice.

“It was great to see him out there,” Fletcher said. “He looked really good on the ice, his hands are still there. It is remarkable to think that with all the treatments that he has had he was able to go out there today and still show the skill and still have the stamina to skate for about 35-40 minutes. It’s a great sign for him and very exciting to think that with all going well in the future he’s going to return to play for us. Obviously, Phase 2 is voluntary and every player and staff member must follow very strict guidelines and rules. Our practice facility is a very safe environment, safer than most places.”

As of Tuesday, the NHL was permitted teams to allow for groups of 12 players at a time to take the ice as Phase 2 activity ramps up. Previously, only six players maximum were allowed on the ice at one time.

You can see pictures and video of Lindblom on the ice as tweeted by the Flyers below.


Crucial Week Ahead for NHL’s Return to Play Plans

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The NHL and sports in general were dealt a pretty rough blow on Friday. With the dates for the start of Phase 3 already announced and players well into Phase 2 in their own communities, the NHL was working their way back to playing. 

Approximately two weeks into Phase 2, the NHL released news that 11 players have tested positive for COVID-19, among them three members of the Tampa Bay Lightning and reportedly Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews. The Lightning shut down their training facility in response to this while further contact tracing was conducted. In addition, the Philadelphia Phillies had five players and three staff members test positive and shut down the training facility in Clearwater and the Toronto Blue Jays followed suit. 

It is clear that this pandemic is far from over and presents new challenges for sports to make a return.

With that in mind, the NHL has not changed plans to return yet. The goal remains to start Phase 3 on July 10. According to a report from Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Phase 3 training camps would last two weeks in the club’s home city, then the teams would travel to the selected hub cities on July 23 or 24. Every team would play one exhibition game over the next week with the best-of-five qualifying round and round-robins starting on July 30.

The biggest hurdles remaining on all of this are that many players are not yet participating in Phase 2 or in their NHL cities yet, and players have not yet voted in agreement to actually return to play.

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Couturier, Farabee Discuss Importance of Finding Rhythm, Chemistry Early

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

In some capacity, it’s certainly possible that all of the Flyers are back on the ice somewhere. Many of them have opted to work out at rinks in their local areas, but for at least five Flyers, Voorhees is once again home for training as the Flyers join the other 23 teams left in the picture for a return to play in the 2019-20 season.

Among the players that are participating at Voorhees are Sean Couturier, Joel Farabee, Ivan Provorov, Mark Friedman and Sam Morin. For these five players in particular, who are working out in the same building where Phase 3 training camp will begin on July 10, there is certainly an adjustment to trying to prepare for a stretch run and playoffs, especially with a lot of unknowns still out there.

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NHL, NHLPA Agree on Tentative Start Date for Phase 3 Training Camps

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

It finally seems like the timeline for the return of hockey is becoming clearer. Phase 2 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan got underway earlier this week with teams being allowed to return to practice and training facilities in small groups. At the time, no timeline was known for when Phase 3, the start of formal training camp, and Phase 4, the return to game action, would be. Now, we have more clarity.

The NHL and NHLPA reached agreement on a tentative start date for formal training camps in Phase 3. Phase 3 is scheduled to begin on July 10, the earliest possible date based on previous updates. The league will only move to Phase 3 on this date provided that medical and safety conditions allow it.

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A Look at Flyers Candidates for NHL Awards

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

It feels weird to think about with the season still so far from completion, but the NHL Awards season is still upon. Typically, this would be the time when the Stanley Cup Final is coming closer to an end and the NHL is near crowning a champion. This season, that will wait for at least a few more months.

Despite that, voting is underway for NHL awards and the Flyers are sure to be represented with candidates in a handful of categories. 

Before we get into the Flyers candidates, there are certainly some awards where the Flyers don’t have any candidates. They will not have a Hart Trophy finalist or a Norris candidate or a Vezina candidate. The Flyers didn’t feature a true star scorer that blew away the rest of the league and while Ivan Provorov had a strong season on the blue line and Carter Hart put together another solid year in goal, they are not quite into the national discussion just yet.

Now, here are a look at some Flyers candidates for this awards season.

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NHL to Transition to Phase 2 of Return Plan on Monday

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

There is progress being made in returning to play for the NHL. Not only has a majority of the plan been finalized, but now there is a clear step in making a return.

On Monday, June 8, the NHL will officially transition to Phase 2 of the four-phase return plan, the league announced on Thursday night.

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NHL, NHLPA Finalize More Details of Return to Play

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

We may not be closer to knowing exactly when the NHL will return, but some of the important details regarding the return to play have been further clarified. 

On Thursday, the NHL announced an agreement with the NHLPA on the remaining details of the return-to-play format. 

Following the qualifying round, featuring 16 teams, and the Round Robin, featuring the Top 4 teams in each conference, the teams will be re-seeded for the remaining rounds, meaning the top seed in each conference will play the lowest remaining seed in each round. It was also determined that following the best-of-five qualifying round that all of the remaining rounds would be best-of-seven series, the traditional format for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Question Facing Flyers: Are 24-Team Playoff Games Away Games for Carter Hart?

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

As the NHL continues to form a plan to return to play and wait out the possibilities of actually taking the ice in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are certainly many questions and possibilities surrounding the 24 teams left in the playoffs.

Over at ESPN.com, Greg Wyshynski posed the biggest question for each of the 24 teams in the playoffs. The Flyers one is quite intriguing. Are these games following the pause, to be played in neutral hub cities, away games for Carter Hart?

It’s no secret that a lot of the Flyers success will run through Hart. On home ice, he has been a constant, posting a 20-3-2 record with a 1.63 GAA and .943 save percentage at Wells Fargo Center. But away from home, the young netminder is just 4-10-1 with a 3.81 GAA and .857 save percentage.

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