Quick Hits: June 13, 2019
1) Congratulations to Craig "Chief" Berube for joining the fraternity of head coaches to win a Stanley Cup. The job he did in overseeing the Blues' climb from the NHL basement in early January to the first Stanley Cup championship in the team's 52-year history -- and first Cup Final appearance, winning or losing, since 1970 -- was nothing short of tremendous.
2) Congratulations as well to Brayden Schenn for winning the Cup and for scoring an important insurance goal off an outstanding setup from Vladimir Tarasenko in the third period. Former Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who dressed in seven regular season games for the Blues, did not dress in the postseason for St. Louis. He'll get a Cup ring but likely won't get his name on the Cup.
3) Watching Jordan Binnington's run this season, starting with a shutout of the Flyers in his NHL debut and culminating in a tremendous performance last night in the most important game of his life, made me reflect a bit on how fast that fortunes sometimes turn not only for teams but also for players.
Binnington, a 25-year-old (soon to be 26) NHL rookie this season, was very good at the American Hockey League level for the most part the last few years, but the Lehigh Valley Phantoms seemed to have his number when they played against him; especially in the deciding game of their first round series against the Providence Bruins last year. In that game, Binnington melted down in net in the first period and completely lost his composure. He ended his season by attacking the smallest player on the ice, Danick Martel, and being yanked after the first period in favor of Zane McIntyre.
This year, Binnington was unflappable on the biggest stage in the hockey world. Earlier this spring, all of the "major contenders" for the Cup got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, including runaway President's Trophy winning Tampa Bay in a stunning sweep. The Islanders swept the Penguins, then the Hurricanes swept the Islanders, then the Bruins swept the Hurricanes. In the end, the team that was literally looking up at the entire league on January 3, skated off with the sport's most coveted prize after a 52-year wait.
Hockey is a strange and unpredictable sport. However, I don't know when -- or if -- we'll ever see anything weirder than how everything unfolded this year.
4) I have no idea whether Kevin Hayes will or will not sign with the Flyers. What I do know is that it is bad form for either side to negotiate through the media. The "Kevin was quite impressed with his visit to Philadelphia and he'd consider signing there but it's not his first choice" tact that a source in the Hayes camp (possibly agent Bob Murray) dropped on reporter Frank Seravalli was a transparent ploy to see how much more they can squeeze from the Flyers before either signing here or shopping that number to the open market.
If I were Chuck Fletcher, I would be a bit annoyed that the Hayes camp said anything publicly. It doesn't mean that I wouldn't continue to negotiate, but I also wouldn't stretch the offer beyond what I was already prepared to offer at the take-or-leave-it end game stage. I'll reiterate what I've said since the Flyers acquired Hayes: He could be a good fit in a 2A/2B center rotation with Nolan Patrick through the middle six in the lineup -- definitely a significant depth upgrade on what the Flyers opened the 2018-19 season with down the middle -- but if it won't be Hayes, there are other potential 2C options such as trying to make a trade for Nazem Kadri.
5) Bernie Parent's 2nd annual In-Shore Fishing Challenge at the Canyon Club Marina in Cape May will take tomorrow. The event benefits Snider Hockey in two ways -- 1) through the money that Bernie's event raises for the organization and 2) through the experience it provides to the attending Snider Hockey kids (many of whom have never been on a boat or gone finishing). For more information, click here
Side note: Special thanks to Bernie and Gini Parent for their gracious invitation to have my son and me come aboard their boat and participate. We can't make it this year but we would love to do it next time around. It's a fantastic event.
6) Later today, Brian Smith and I will record the NHL Draft Preview edition of Flyer Buzz on Flyers Radio 24/7. When the podcast is uploaded to the archives, I will post the link here.
7) My newest article for the Flyers' official website is a year-by-year historical look from 2007 through 2018 of the trades the Flyers made -- or attempted to make, but were unsuccessful in the end-game phase -- over NHL Entry Draft weekend. The article is entitled Drafting the Trade Winds
8) June 13 Flyers Alumni birthdays: Vyacheslav Butsayev (1970), Doug Crossman (1960), Dale Kushner (1966), Danny Syvret (1985).
Offseason 411 Series
A couple weeks ago, Flyers PR director Joe Siville suggested that we do a series of "411" articles this month on the team's official website, looking at a variety of topics that come up this time of year. Basically, it's a review of the CBA-mandated rules, common strategies that teams employ and Flyers-related examples of how the rules work. The topics covered:
1)Offer sheets for restricted free agents
2)Key dates and rules for unrestricted free agents and arbitration-eligible restricted free agents
3)NHL Draft: Rules, Drafting Rights, Entry-Level Contracts, Rookie Free Agents
4) NHL Expansion Draft rules and exemptions