The CBA was made official, the NHL opened its doors, the fans returned and GM Paul Holmgren was busy.
For the first time as a full team since May 2012, the Philadelphia Flyers took the ice Sunday to a literally packed house. At one point, the fire marshal was called in to coordinate seating the Skate Zone in Voorhees because so many people were squeezed into the bleachers—so, yes, the fans are back!
The team opened its training camp skating out to a huge ovation, then got down to work. Early lines in the first practice showed Claude Giroux centering Scott Hartnell and Brayden Schenn; Sean Couturier centering Jake Voracek and Max Talbot; junior Scott Laughton (on a try-out) centering Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read.
After the ice was cleaned, Head Coach Peter Laviolette brought his players out for a second session, and the lines were scrambled a bit, Giroux skating with Hartnell and Voracek.
Front Office Moves
While the Flyers were skating a double session, General Manager Paul Holmgren was working hard as well.
The Flyers signed big defenseman Kurtis Foster, (6'5" 226 lbs), to compete against Bruno Gervais, Andreas Lilja and Erik Gustafsson for the 6th defensive spot. A movable commodity who skated for New Jersey, Anaheim and Minnesota last year alone, Foster is known for his heavy point shot, and tallied 14 points in 51 games. The 31-year-old's career-best 42 points came in 2010 for Tampa Bay.
The Flyers then started up the goaltending carousel again, re-acquiring goaltender Brian Boucher and college prospect Mark Alt from Carolina for minor-league Center Luke Pither.
Boucher will likely play in the minors occasionally serving as a third-string call-up behind Ilya Bryzgalov and Michael Leighton. This marks Boucher's third stint with the Flyers (1999-2002, 2009-11).
Alt is a 21-year-old defenseman, who goes 6'5", 205 and is currently playing for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Get it in writing
Last night, the NHL and NHLPA signed a Memorandum of Understanding, a legal document that made the 2012 Collective Bargaining Agreement official, signifying the return of the game on paper. (For highlights of the new CBA click here.)
Daniel Briere (wrist) did not practice today, but was seen in the building in street clothes. Briere injured his wrist playing in Berlin, Germany during the lockout. Early speculation is that Briere may miss 2-3 weeks; however, he will meet with team doctors tomorrow to get a better idea.
Two teams are already taking advantage of the amnesty buy-out rule offered under the new CBA. The New York Rangers told Wade Redden he has their permission to seek a trade, but both he and Montreal Canadiens forward Scott Gomez were told to stay home this year.
Neither team will allow either player to play for their NHL or AHL teams to avoid injury (injured players cannot be bought out). Any buy-outs go into effect at the end of this season.
Both franchises are trying to free up cash that they need to re-sign their young Restricted Free Agent defensemen Michael Del Zotto (NYR) and P.K. Subban (MON).
The Flyers will play their first game at 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 19 at home against cross-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins. NBC will carry the broadcast nationally. For the complete Flyers schedule, click here.
Josh Kaz writes constantly about the Flyers at dropthepuck.org.