Posts Tagged ‘ Jagr ’

Hello to the Old and the New

Tonight’s Flyers game introduced another new epoch that the front office had envisioned during the summer of change; first off, it showcased the ability that Jaromir Jagr has to put the puck in the net during games that actually matter. After seeing him score against us for so many years it was a nice change of pace. With two quick snapshot breakaway goals Jagr reaffirmed the notion that he should be feared by defenses around the league when given space, despite his grey hair and wrinkles. His shot, stick handling, and quick bursts of speed are still evident, and will continue to improve thanks to his incessant work ethic, study time, and fervor to be great (late night practices galore). It also re-introduced us to Scott Hartnell. (Yes, believe it or not he is still on the roster) He recently was fortunate enough to replace James Van Riemsdyk on the top scoring line, and partnering up with Giroux and Jagr seems to have reinvigorated his game, which had lost its way as of late.

The move paid off quickly, when Hartnell netted two goals in his second appearance on the line and looked more like a player worth a cap hit above four million dollars instead of the salary dump that many viewed him as early on in the season. (Remember the Nashville rumors?) Keeping Hartnell on the top line is a no brainer if he can keep up his hot streak, but even if his numbers start to dip he could still make his presence felt with his physical play and energy in the dirty areas. He added an element to the former Briere-Leino line that was invaluable to its success, and could prove to be the type of spark plug that boosts everyone on the Giroux line.

In this young season the Flyers have looked great, good, okay, downright horrible, pathetic, uninspired, and above average. No, not all at once, but the team must search for an identity that allows the young skaters to feel comfortable while also taking advantage of their strengths on a regular basis. Laviolette’s system takes time to be implemented and has proven to work in the past, but requires certain attributes and instinctive that may be foreign to rookies.

So what does this Flyers team need to make consistent play a habit? Stability within the roster, strong skating, and a commitment to back checking are always at the top of the list.

Matt Read and Brayden Schenn have both seemed to supplant themselves within the lineup for the foreseeable future, while Harry Zolniercyzk and Zac Rinaldo will likely make the trek from Glens Falls to Philadelphia and back on a regular basis, however one decision is still up in the air. With the time quickly approaching regarding what to do with Sean Couturier, the 18 year old 1st round draft pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, there are a few possible directions the Flyers can still go with their roster.

There are parties on both sides of the line, whether to send Couturier back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) or keep him up in the NHL, but the one major sticking point is always going to be money. Couturier has a few things to work on, some are tangible like skating and strength, and some are intangible like maturity and patience, but he has proven himself to be worthy of the high draft pick and can certainly hack it in the big time.

However, by pushing him back to Juniors, where he has had back to back 96 point seasons, doing so in 68 games and 58 games respectively, the Flyers can push back his contract another year, making his NHL contract essentially void for this season, and giving another year to the back end, when he will undoubtedly have improved both the tangibles and intangibles in his game.

Overall he’s looked better than Brayden Schenn and certainly sports better stats, but centering a fourth line with Talbot and Shelley could make it harder for the youngster to make a dent during the season. Given the possibilities the Flyers have financially with Couturier in the future it is surprising to keep him up this year, however his impressive play and the recent moves to clear cap space and contract amounts to fit him into this years plans have made it clear that Couturier will be around past the tenth game.

With the season being so fresh, and the book on this Flyers make-up so thin there are few things to go on, but with some chemistry and dependability starting to show the Flyers could be pushing towards the type of year that Ed Snider had envisioned


What’s With all the Black and Gold

As with many fans of the Philadelphia Flyers I waited with baited breath on July 1st. I waited, and waited, and waited some more. In fact I’m still waiting for the organization to make that one big move that everyone was sure would come. Perhaps not to the levels of Steven Stamkos, but maybe Ales Hemsky or Paul Stastny or another player on that level. After all, there had to have been someone the flyers brass were targeting, right? It seems as if that was common knowledge.

After bidding adieu to Mike Richards and Jeff Carter my Philadelphia Flyers t-shirt collection has been dwindling. I have been forced to retire my previous sweaters and players’ shirts emblazoned with their names due to common fandom rules. If there is any reason for a big move to be made it is clearly my wardrobe, well and for the team to get better, but that is obviously second.

First came the news that no offer would be made to Steven Stamkos, arguably the second or third best player in the league. Given the price tag to acquire him, and the subsequent truckload of money it would take to sign him to a long-term contract it was an easy pill to swallow. Then came reports that the Flyers were one of the frontrunners to land Jaromir Jagr.

Jaromir Jagr

Was I supposed to gasp? They were going to possibly sign a guy who has over 600 career goals and nearly a thousand assists in his NHL career, how could that news not be exciting?

Because Jagr is not Teemu Selanne, a player in the twilight of his NHL years but is still a stud. He’s not even Niklas Lidstrom caliber these days. Granted, Lidstrom is a defenseman, but the point is that he cannot lead a team any which way you slice it. There is a reason Jagr played in Russia. You might be saying that that reason is his desire to play in his home country, but the simple fact that he signed a one year deal to play for the Flyers immediately disproves that notion. Add to the over-the-hill comments the understanding that Jagr was a Penguin, and will always be remembered as a Penguin, and you have a bigger reason for dislike. Sure, he was a Ranger for a quick second among a few other quick layovers, but don’t act like it won’t be weird when Jagr dons his number 68 orange and black sweater and you are asked to cheer.

That was the biggest hurdle I had to jump in order to be okay with the signing, and just about the time I came to grips with the idea, the Flyers decided to sign another Penguin. Not a “once beloved” penguin, or a former penguin, but Maxime Talbot. Paul Holmgren must have been playing a joke. He scored two goals in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals to bring the Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh, but outside of that is there a Talbot highlight of him playing hockey that I’ve missed? I understand that he had a few quality segments in HBO’s 24/7, but that doesn’t exactly convey greatness. This is the same guy who fought Dan Carcillo and then put his finger up to his mouth to silence the Philadelphia crowd before the penguins came back from three goals down to win; he is now a Flyer, and everyone seems to be okay with that.


Yes, really. I’ve said it before and it still rings true, as fans we have to cheer when our team tries to make itself better. We cheer, scream, throw things, lose our voices, waste our money, and dissect every pass, shot, and hit the players make because we want to be watching hockey in June. We want to be able to wear a Flyers shirt proudly in the beginning of summer and all the way through until next season.

Maxime Talbot

Talbot and Jagr are not the sexiest choices that were available, but their mix of veteran knowhow and playoff leadership may help propel the team to new heights. With a large make-up of young talent these types of men are a necessity, and will hopefully make their money as much in the locker room as they do on the rink. When you spend your time looking at the box score of the game this upcoming season you will not be getting the entire story. Talbot is scrappy, a quality that goes for miles in Philadelphia sports allure, and Jagr is a rental that might work out nicely for a quick jolt to the top of the heap. Most important, they’ve been there before, something you cannot put a price on. Maybe it is a Talbot speech that will help the Flyers overcome a hole to come back in the third period to win a game, or maybe it is Jagr’s prowess with the puck in tight spaces that will help vault Brayden Schenn’s young career to new heights when given free space. Their productivity is beyond points per game or plus/minus numbers, and at some point we will all understand that. Hopefully in the playoffs.

Talbot Hoisting the Cup

The signings took a while to get used to, and seeing Jagr in a Flyers jersey will be weird for quite some time, especially when flashbacks of him in black and gold drift into my memory, but with the absence of any big move you have to be okay with the idea that the Flyers are building this team the right way, without suckering themselves into big contracts. Maybe they still have a trick up their sleeve regarding the eventual destination of Sergei Bobrovsky, but for now we can just sit and ponder what is to come.

Although my closet is a little mad at them for waiting.

Melrose quality Mullet