With Flyers training camp coming up in six weeks, fans have a couple reasons to be excited about this year. The Flyers will have a new duo in the net, they welcomed a couple of NHL veterans into the organization, and Laviolette will serve as the assistant coach for the US Olympic team in 2014. The team is taking some steps in the right direction to improve upon last year’s record and hopefully will make it into the playoff race this year.
The Flyers have traditionally struggled defensively and in the net, but I am looking forward to seeing what Mason and Emery can do this season. Emery played a season with the Flyers in 2009-10 and recovered from hip surgery to play tremendously last season. He will hopefully bring some momentum from Chicago’s playoff run and successfully protect the Flyers goal now. The Flyers have expressed that Mason and Emery will be more of a team than competitors, splitting the games 50-50. This gives both goaltenders an opportunity to really gel with the team and provides the coaching staff with a little more flexibility throughout the season. The Flyers also drafted four new defensemen to help protect the goal, a move that proves the Flyers recognize their weaknesses and are moving towards improving them.
Two prominent NHL veterans are also coming to the Flyers, both of which will add a great perspective to the team. First is Vinny Lecavalier, who went first in the 1998 draft and has served as captain for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has proven he can play and has experience being a leader on the team. He won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004, including a devastating series with the Flyers, but I think he will help the Fly Guys get where they want to be, which is ultimately in the playoffs. As much as I hate to admit it, I think Lecavalier can provide guidance to the young Flyers and bring in many years of proven success. The front office has also brought back Ron Hextall as assistant GM, which I think could be one of the best moves the Flyers have made during the off-season. As a former Flyer, he has a passion to get the team to the playoffs and has proven what he can do the past couple years in LA with the Kings. With additional leadership and experience on the team, I see the Flyers winning more this season.
Lastly, Flyers head coach, Peter Laviolette, will serve as the assistant coach for Team USA in the 2014 Olympics in Russia. Although that role is currently fighting for his attention as he is also preparing for Flyers training camp, I think working for the Olympic team will ultimately benefit Lavioletter and the Flyers. It will give him the opportunity to work with other coaches and run some new plays that he can possibly incorporate into the Flyers’ playbook. Additionally, he will have the chance to see the greatest hockey players in the world face off against each other, giving him a better perspective on the Flyers’ strengths and weaknesses. With Laviolette having a more comprehensive view of the league, it will hopefully put the Flyers ahead of other teams after the Olympic break.
As an optimistic Philly fan, I always say this year could be the year, and this season isn’t any different. With new defensive players and goaltenders, league veterans, and a coach at the Olympics, I think the Flyers doing some things right this off-season.