By Mike Miccoli, Boston Bruins correspondent
The Bruins won’t be remembered for upsetting the Sabres in the first round nor for their inspired play through the first three games against the Flyers. Instead, until Boston wins a Stanley Cup or another team pulls off this horrible feat, the Bruins will be associated with being the latest NHL team to choke (epically) in the playoffs. This is what we get to hear about all throughout the offseason and whenever the Bruins next hold a comfortable lead in a playoffs series. Being up three games? That’s just not enough anymore.
Once again the Flyers are orange. The black jerseys that Philadelphia has worn for years have been dropped for the more traditional look. The former orange thirds have become the new home jerseys as the blacks will now be scheduled in for specific games. The change comes at an important cross-roads in the team’s history of course; one that leaves many to speculate whether or not the 2009-10 Philadelphia Flyers have an identity crisis.
Flyers training camp opened to a record attendance for the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ early Sunday morning. The excitement had not yet worn off from the incredible rookie scrimmage between the Flyers and Capitals where former second overall selection James van Riemsdyk showed exactly why he was taken so early with a four goal, five point performance. It had been standing room only in the Skate Zone for all open to the public practices all weekend.
It has been a number of years since Mark Messier strapped on that helmet, laced up his skates, and pulled the number eleven over his head. Now he wears a suit and tie instead of a sweater, the skates have changed into dress shoes, and even the locker has been replaced by an office where he pulls up a chair as the new assistant to Rangers’ President and General Manager GlenSather . To think these things can truly change a man though is foolish. Though a life in the administrative side of hockey sometimes calls for tough decisions that effect the lives of players, those same kids, as most of them these days are decades younger than the six-time Stanley Cup Champion, are the ones that Messier is looking to reach out to the most.
In 2007-08 the Flyers intended whole heartedly to come back into the NHL with a sense of vengeance. It wasn’t necessarily a plan to beat up physically and mentality anyone who stepped on the ice with them, but bitter after the worst season in franchise history, the Flyers had an impressive parade of five total Flyers that watched some games instead of skating on the ice due to suspensions. Steve Downie and Jesse Boulerice were the first to fall to the trend, Boulerice with 25 games for a clearly dirty cross-check to the face of Ryan Kesler (video) and Downie with 20 games for a black and white call for leaving his feet when he lunged into a check on Dean McAmmond even though the result was far worse than the intention (video). While those were clear cut with their intentions to punish a certain player on the ice, two other suspensions to Randy Jones (video) and Scott Hartnell (video) didn’t show any true intent to injure. Both were hits when the player was in a vulnerable position and nobody wants to see that in the NHL of course. Still it’s clear that league cracked down more on the result because these are just penalty worthy offenses in an ordinary game when no one is hurt. The Flyers in fact have taken quite a few of these in the past two season and bounced right back up to not even a powerplay. It’s a shame that the league works this way, but there’s not much that can be done about it. The last of the Flyers to see time on the suspension list was Riley Cote with three games on a hit from behind on Dallas Star blueliner Matt Niskanen.