Flyers News & Rumors: President Search, DeAngelo, Phantoms

The Philadelphia Flyers have begun interviews for the President of Hockey Operations role. The new hire will complete the puzzle of a restructured organization with newly-appointed franchise governor Dan Hilferty and interim (and likely full-time) general manager (GM) Danny Brière. Meanwhile, the mystery of the Tony DeAngelo drama is still a topic of conversation in Philadelphia as the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin. 

President of Hockey Operations

Hilferty spoke about finding a new hire who can become“the third piece of that collaborative puzzle that really connects with the dedicated hockey folks in Danny (Brière) and John Tortorella.” 

“The person will represent the organization throughout the hockey world and will work directly with Valerie (Camillo) and me as a bridge to ownership and the business side, and, of course, oversee the efforts of both the general manager and Coach Tortorella,” he said (from The Athletic, Rebuilding the Flyers with a ‘triumvirate of leadership’ in hockey ops: Comcast Spectacor CEO Dan Hilferty Q&A, 4/7/23).

Danny Briere Philadelphia Flyers
Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Danny Brière (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Ray Shero, the son of legendary Broad Street Bullies head coach Fred Shero, has been the most commonly discussed candidate for the vacant position. However, Anthony DiMarco spoke on the Stick 2 Hockey podcast about how Shero would prefer a job as a GM with more control of roster construction. He would not get that kind of opportunity with Brière set to become the full-time GM.

DiMarco also mentioned Scott Mellanby, Cammi Granato, and Émilie Castonguay as potential candidates. Mellanby is currently a senior advisor for the St. Louis Blues. He played 355 games in six seasons for the Flyers from 1985-1991 as part of a 21-year career with five different NHL teams. He also spent 10 years as the assistant GM of the Montreal Canadiens before resigning in 2022.

The Vancouver Canucks hired Granato and Castonguay as assistant GMs in February 2022. Granato worked her way up as a scout for the Seattle Kraken after starring as the captain of the US Women’s National Team as a player. Castonguay worked as a player agent before moving to the front office in Vancouver.

Phantoms in Calder Cup Playoffs

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms will play a decisive Game 3 against the Charlotte Checkers on Friday night. The two teams have traded tightly-fought victories in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. The Phantoms jumped out to a 1-0 lead after a 4-3 victory in Charlotte on April 18. They rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period of Game 2 on April 20, but they lost on a game-winner by Lucas Carlsson in double overtime.

Prospects Tyson Foerster, Olle Lycksell, and Elliot Desnoyers finished as the three leading scorers for Lehigh Valley in 2022-23. Sam Ersson carried the load as the top goaltender for Ian Laperrière’s club while Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning played key roles on the blue line. The Phantoms have also gotten contributions from veterans like Artem Anisimov and Adam Brooks this season, but an organizational focus on letting younger players take charge in the American Hockey League (AHL) has benefitted some of the top Flyers prospects.

Egor Zamula will miss the Calder Cup Playoffs after undergoing shoulder surgery on April 10. The organization expects him to make a full recovery in time for training camp. The Russian blueliner played 14 games for the Flyers and 44 games for the Phantoms in 2022-23.

Tony DeAngelo: Healthy Scratch

It’s been over a week since the season ended, but nobody has openly revealed the reason why DeAngelo sat the final five games as a healthy scratch. The South Jersey native spoke about the situation during his exit interview, but he kept the reasoning private.

“Do I agree with it, what happened in the last five games? Absolutely not. I think it’s ridiculous that I didn’t play the last five. That’s one thing, but he’s also the coach of the team. It’s not my job to decide that,” DeAngelo said.

Tony DeAngelo Philadelphia Flyers
Tony DeAngelo, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

John Tortorella spoke with the same sentiment three days later.

“I know that’s probably a big topic for you guys. Tony didn’t play the last five games, so something happened, right? That’s going to stay between Tony and I and the team. My job is to make decisions on what is best for the hockey team, my job as the coach. Sometimes it causes situations, but that’s all part of it,” the veteran head coach said.

Charlie O’Connor spoke about the unexplained decision on the Broad Street Hockey podcast. While healthy scratches are typically required to participate in morning skates, DeAngelo was not on the ice before the matchup against the New York Islanders on April 8. The possibility exists that Tortorella disciplined a player for skipping a responsibility, although the full story might never materialize.

Related: 4 Key Storylines of Flyers 2023 Offseason

DeAngelo struggled on the defensive side in 70 games during his first season in Philadelphia. Only 24 players in the NHL were on the ice for more expected goals against (xGA) in 2022-23. Of those 24 players, 22 of them appeared in at least six more games than DeAngelo, and 14 of them played at least 10 more games. Although the seven-year veteran showed flashes of the ability to move the puck that has made him successful in past seasons, his work on the point failed to help a power-play unit that finished 32nd in the NHL for the second consecutive season. 

“I don’t care who the coach is. I want to come back, and this is where I want to be. I’ve wanted to be a Flyer forever. As far as what’s going to happen, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. Even if I’m back next year, if I’m back after that year, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. As long as I’m wanted here, I’ll be here,” DeAngelo said.

Flyers Fans Can Enjoy Stanley Cup Playoffs

The disappointment of three consecutive down seasons shouldn’t ruin the Stanley Cup Playoffs for Flyers fans. The four Metropolitan Division teams that qualified will face each other on the same side of the Eastern Conference bracket. The division champion Carolina Hurricanes are one of only two Eastern Conference teams, along with the Columbus Blue Jackets, that the Flyers have never faced in a playoff series. Former fan favorite Rod Brind’Amour mans the bench for Carolina, while Shayne Gostisbehere will play a key power-play role.

Shayne Gostisbehere Carolina Hurricanes
Shayne Gostisbehere, Carolina Hurricanes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and New Jersey Devils have longer histories of fierce rivalries against the Flyers. Philadelphia fans will watch the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06 without seeing Sidney Crosby and the arch-rival Pittsburgh Penguins.

Former Flyers Radko Gudas, Nick Cousins, and Sergei Bobrovsky expected to play notable postseason roles for the Florida Panthers. However, journeyman goaltender Alex Lyon stole the crease from Bobrovsky with a stunning hot streak to finish the regular season. The former Lehigh Valley mainstay and Flyers call-up has stopped 60 of 66 shots in two postseason games in 2023. Florida is tied 1-1 with the Boston Bruins in their opening-round series.

Other former Flyers in the postseason include Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Brian Elliott of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Luke Schenn of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Ryan Hartman of the Minnesota Wild. Wayne Simmonds, Erik Gustafsson, and Zack MacEwen are all on playoff rosters, but none of the three have appeared in a game yet. Former Philadelphia head coach Dave Hakstol also led the Kraken to their first playoff appearance in franchise history.

All advanced stats apply to 5-on-5 play, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.

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