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Flyers coach Laviolette optimistic after major summer moves

Aug 3, 2013, 5:13 PM EDT

Mark Streit Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers are coming off of a disappointing season where they failed to make the playoffs, but Flyers coach Peter Laviolette feels there are reasons to be upbeat about the franchise.

After all, they’ve had an eventful summer that involved adding forward Vincent Lecavalier, defenseman Mark Streit, and goaltender Ray Emery.

Lecavalier never turned into the consistent superstar that the Tampa Bay Lightning were hoping for, but the 33-year-old has been relieved of the expectations that came with his now bought out 11-year, $85 million contract. Now attention can be drawn more towards what he actually is: A well above average forward that scored at least 20 goals in 12 straight campaigns before the shortened season.

Meanwhile, Streit, 35, is a top-notch offensive defenseman that’s particularly dangerous with the man advantage.

Still, Laviolette has an addition reason for likely both of them.

“We pick up a real talented, experienced guy who can help with leadership,” Laviolette told the Flyers’ website. “That’s one of the nice things about our pick ups this summer is we added two guys who were captains of their teams before coming here and that should be a big help to our young group.”

Adding Emery was also big for Laviolette, given that he’s been a fan of the 30-year-old goaltender for quite a while.

“I remember before I was hired here, I was working for TSN in Canada and I was watching Emery play (for the Flyers) and I really liked him,” Laviolette said. “I was making a pitch for him on television to be added to the Canadian Olympic team because I thought he was playing so well at the time.

“As a matter of fact, the last game he played for the Flyers was in Calgary in 2010 and he won 3-0 and was phenomenal in the game. The next day, the news turned on him (with his injury).”

Emery had avascular necrosis, but he eventually managed to return. After excelling last season as the Chicago Blackhawks’ backup goaltender, he’ll compete for the starting job with Steve Mason.

That goaltending tandem is one of the things Laviolette is excited about going forward. As big as the additions of Streit and Lecavalier are, it might be Emery with his one-year, $1.65 million contract that steals the spotlight.

  1. atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 3, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    Mark Streit is a good offensive defenseman but not a great defensively as evidenced by his -41 over the last 130 games (2011-12 and 2013 season) its hard to be -41 when you’ve 68 points in that time, but he’s done it.

    They may have better goaltending but until they actually fix the defense they’re still going to give up a lot of goals, and they have no way to fix it because their cap is such a mess right now, not sure what Holmgren has achieved for Flyers fans to love him so much, but based on him avoiding the elephant in the room it’s going to be another season of disappointing results in Philadelphia.

    • isithockeyseasonyet - Aug 3, 2013 at 5:43 PM

      Nobody loves holmgren as a GM, if the flyers start off as poorly as you think they’ll be, he’ll be gone and the ron hextall era begins

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 3, 2013 at 5:52 PM

        I don’t think they’ll be a poor team, I think they’ll make the playoffs but their defense is broken and until they fix it they won’t be able to take the next step to become an elite team and a cup contender. Right now this team is good enough to get to the second round of the playoffs, but that’s it.

        I like Ron Hextall a lot, I was really hoping the Flames would fire Feaster and bring Hextall in, whichever team finally does make him a GM will be hiring a very smart personnel guy IMO.

      • isithockeyseasonyet - Aug 3, 2013 at 5:58 PM

        Ok fair enough I misunderstood what you meant, I agree with all that, if you read my post below I pretty much said the same thing as you…but yeah, holmgren is up against it this year, if they make it to the second round he keeps his job, anything short of that, I doubt it

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 3, 2013 at 6:16 PM

        That’s fair, by “disappointing season” it could be construed that I meant they’d be a bad team, but I didn’t express myself well, I meant disappointing in that a lot of Flyers fans have Stanley Cup expectations every year, and right now I don’t think the team is capable of being in the category of elite teams. There are a lot of teams and fan bases who would be ecstatic over reaching the second round (my Flames being one of them) but for the Flyers and their fans that would be disappointing.

      • twpguy1964 - Aug 5, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        NOBODY? Wrong! Look at the percentages of the players Homer drafted playing NHL games while he’s been GM. SIXTH in percentage in the league! Is it his fault players dont play? NO! Stop blaming the GM and start blaming the players! Now if your going to start with this Richards and Carter crap, I’m a Flyers fan and I’d do the trade again tomorrow!

    • hockeyfan28 - Aug 3, 2013 at 9:30 PM

      Think you over

    • hockeyfan28 - Aug 3, 2013 at 9:36 PM

      Think you overestimate the supposed amount of talent other teams have over the flyers they had winning records against 5 of the 8 playoff teams in the east this year when they where terrible

    • glencoco93 - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:45 AM

      The Flyers fixed their problems pretty good. First off I’d Like to say our defense is built pretty good. we now have 3-4 offensive defense men, and we have 6 stay home defense men that could make this roster.
      First let’s take a look at why our defense has been a fail since Pronger got hurt.

      Line 1 Pronger Carle = well balanced offensive and defensive match up.

      Line 2 Timonen Coburn = well balanced offensive and defensive match up.

      Line 3 Mezsarous – O’Donnell- Ilija- Gustafsson- Lauridsen = Fair weather for a 3rd pairing.

      take Pronger out of this system and suddenly you only have one line that is Good. you move mezsarous up with carle and that’s a pretty average line. Take Mezsarous out of the 3rd pairing and that line goes from fair to awful!

      let’s fast forward a few years.

      our Lines today.

      Line 1 Timonen Schenn = Well balanced offensive and defensive match up.

      Line 2 Steit Grossmann = Well balanced offensive and defensive match up.

      Line 3 Mezarous- Coburn- Gustafsson- Lauridsen- Huskins- and more = Fair at the very minimum.

      The first Pairing was pretty solid last year I would say Timonen doesn’t have much left in him but he still has enough to lead this team for one more season Schenn is dominant on the back end, Timonen is dominant in the attacking end very well balanced as far as offense and defense is concerned.

      Now for the second line,
      I’m thinking Grossmann will be paired with Steit because Grossmann has the stay home abilities and physical play Streit doesn’t have. Grossmann can clear the crease, and Streit can get the puck out of our own zone. Streit is known for turning the puck over a lot but most offensive defense men have that very same issue! on the offensive end you have Streit a well above average blue liner and Power play quarterback that we lacked since Pronger. again these guys should each cover each other’s weaknesses and balance out quite nicely.

      The 3rd line has lots of talent all across the board. We have Mezsarous who is a good guy to build the line around and well Coburn could be that last guy. Coburn is a fair 2 way player that hasn’t lived up to his expectations. A lot of his time here in Philadelphia was effected by injuries within the lineup resulting in being asked to do too much and over played. I think the lesser he plays the better he will be. you pu these guys on the 3rd line and at the very least you’re going to get from these guys is a fair line. they could both redeem themselves. we saw what happened 2 years ago when all 3 lines were splitting time equally and how consistent coburn played. this should be a good year for coburn if he stays healthy.

      and it’s not like we don’t have any backups if somebody gets hurt. Gustafsson is ready as soon as Timonen, Streit, or Mezsarous gets hurt. Lauridsen or Huskins is ready as soon as Schenn Coburn or Grossmann Gets hurt.

      although we don’t have a true dominant #1 two-way player but we certainly have a lot of talented one trick ponies that can balance each other out quite nicely. The Penguins won a cup this way and well I am not too big of a fan of that method I do have to say it’s worth a shot because our long term alternatives won’t be ready for another couple years. Our alternatives are very limited as of now and If you’re going to keep me dreaming about the Stanley cup and take us to the playoffs for the next couple years doing this than I’m a happy camper I gotta admit. I hate when my team doesn’t make the playoffs. This should be a pretty good year for Flyers fans.

  2. mclovinhockey - Aug 3, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    They added the best available in O, D and in net.
    They had a bad year due to injuries and should be fine now. They also went on a tear at the end of last season… If it was a full year they would have made it.
    I mean look at the kings 2 years ago, if that year was 48 games long they would have missed the playoffs.

    Also the flyers cap situation is not bad at all. Once you take pronger off they are about 2 mill under and need to just move a D. Even if its for nothing that still gives them like 6 mill in space at day 1.

    Gus finally moving up is great for the Flyers D.

    No reason to be upset with this offseason, only people who I hear say anything are people who I find out later are ignorant people making asinine comments.

    The team is strong.

    • isithockeyseasonyet - Aug 3, 2013 at 5:50 PM

      Eh, the cap situation isn’t great either tho, you make good points but they still didn’t significantly improve the D. They should be improved in all 3 categories tho (o, d, gt). Should be a playoff team, maybe a contender if everything works out and they can add a piece at the trade deadline (I know, thinking way ahead)

    • flyers22 - Aug 3, 2013 at 6:49 PM

      Thank you finally someone who gets it the d will be fine the problem was the injuries the offense is one of the deepest In the league and if mason can do what he did In the 10 games he played for us along with emery being solid we will be a very tough team to beat. I don’t understand why people hate holmgren all of a sudden he’s an aggressive gm who has made great moves to improve this team now and for the future.

    • hockeyfan28 - Aug 3, 2013 at 9:41 PM

      Mclovin agreed on top of that Lavys system is uptempo any team playing his style is going to give up chances if the situation was reversed and say Ken Hitchcock was the coach they’d say we’ll the d is good but will they score enough goals

  3. spochiefsfan - Aug 3, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    Hextall FTW

  4. President Charles Logan - Aug 3, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    One of the deepest offenses in the League?? , ehh I wouldnt go that far, have they improved a bit?yeah Vinny L is going to revitalized and that was a good signing but he’s not a 100 point guy or a 50 goal scorere at his age. I’m still skeptical of Mason and Emery between the pipes … Streit is not defensive minded either … 7th or 8th seed tops , maybe by the trade deadline they add some help .

    • phillyphanatic77 - Aug 3, 2013 at 8:15 PM

      They may not be among the ‘elite’ franchises of the NHL, but based purely on talent they’re a good team. If they move Mez and resign Gagne, their forwards, as a group, will be amongst the best in the league. For example, just think about the # of potential 20+ goal scorers on the roster- Giroux, Voracek, Hartnell, Lecavalier, Simmonds, Schenn, Read, and maybe even Couturier (if he gets back on track). Their offense will be much closer to 11-12 than 12-13. And if their defenders play to their potential, as a group, they’re atleast serviceable. Coburn will bounce back. And Streit will bring the element they lost with Carle. And if Gustafsson steps up (as he did at the end of the year) their D might not be a liability. As for goaltending, there might be questions but I think Mason/Emery will surprise some ppl.

      I wouldn’t say they’re true contenders but if most everyone bounces back and plays to their potential, I don’t see why they can’t make the playoffs. And maybe more. No one predicted their Cup run a few years ago. You just gotta get in, and I don’t think they’ll have a problem w that.

      • President Charles Logan - Aug 3, 2013 at 10:43 PM

        agree 100% 77 anythign can happen once you get in and like I said i think Homer makes a big move at some point during the year … i thought the whole gagne thing was done though , havent heard much of his name brought up lately… i know how you feel about him but i think that shipped has sailed and it’s time to move on… time to get younger ! it’s nothing against gags , he’s a flyer HOF for sure but if he’s gonna take up a space that a young guy can develop with then i wouldnt bring him back with limited cap room

      • phillyphanatic77 - Aug 4, 2013 at 1:16 AM

        Gagne is obviously no longer a top line player, but he’s the perfect 3rd line winger. He can slide onto the PP and kill penalties. He’s a defensively responsible forward who still has the ability to chip in atleast 10-15 goals. And according to reports they had an agreed upon price (supposedly around 1.8). Both sides wanna get a deal done so that’s why I said if they move Mez they’ll sign him. And the other alternative is to wait until the season starts and Prongers exception to kick in, then they could sign him. I still think he could be a valuable commodity even if he’s not putting up 30 goals anymore. But if they don’t resign him then Laughton may be able to take his spot on the 3rd line.

        But I think you’re right, it’s very possible Homer makes a splash around the deadline. A lot depends on how the Dcorps comes together.

      • juzzi7 - Aug 4, 2013 at 6:20 AM

        “And Streit will bring the element they lost with Carle”

        Turnovers?

      • phillyphanatic77 - Aug 4, 2013 at 1:36 PM

        Well yeah, sometimes, but that aspect of Carle’s game was often overblown by Flyers fans. Some of his turnovers were glaring (bc they ended up in the back of the net), however he was a better all-around player in Philly than ppl give him credit for. He was an easy scapegoat who has since been replaced by Coburn. But I was referring to his ability to carry the puck out of the defensive zone or lead with a nice outlet pass. And also quarterbacking the PP (2nd unit). Neither of them are great in their own zone but I think their deficiencies are often blown out of proportion.

    • matthewmacisaac - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:16 AM

      I thought the element they lost with Carle minus the turnovers & indescision in the offensive zone + a little better resistance in the defensive zone ( any resistance is better than what Carle gave).

  5. icelovinbrotha215 - Aug 3, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    I do think the team will be better this year. I’m not a big fan of Streit’s contract when it comes to years but I do feel they addressed their weakest point. Who knows how they will finish. There is so much parity in the NHL.

  6. dkphilly1122 - Aug 3, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    Hextall will not be the GM this year. There is no pressure on Homer. Am I saying I wouldn’t like to see Hexy as our GM??? Absolutely not. I just don’t think Snider will go that route unless they have a horrible season, which I don’t see that happening with the talent that they have. Yes the defense is still there weak spot, but there offense makes up for that to an extent. It takes the pressure off the D when they are rolling three solid lines and scoring. The goalies I believe will be a nice tandem to keep them in games as well. They will without a doubt finish among the top of there division, definitely not a 7th or 8th seed like someone typed up further. Having Vinny as a second line center is gonna be great for them on top of all that, less pressure on him.

  7. President Charles Logan - Aug 3, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Yeah I’m not too sure why people automatically think Hextall is going to just ease into the GM’s job and steal it out from underneath’s homer’s nose this year.. …. he was brought back cause Ed Snider is loyal to his old guard and MAY become the GM in another couple years .. I bet Laviolette is canned before Homer is

  8. pitpenguinsrulez - Aug 3, 2013 at 11:37 PM

    Long Live 1975!!!

  9. flydommo - Aug 4, 2013 at 1:51 AM

    The Lecavalier deal will improve the Flyers’ offense short-term and if he gets injured in the later stages of his career, he can still be put on LTIR since his is not a 35-plus contract.

    I also like the Mason/Emery tandem in goal, Mason has something to prove and showed flashes of brilliance late last season while Emery has matured into a very solid dependable player.

    I disagree with the Streit deal, though, at 5,250,000 $ he seems overpaid and I also dislike the contract length of four seasons considering the guy is over 35 years of age. I am also wondering what his atrocious plus/minus statistics tell us about his Play, but maybe those figures must be blamed on the Islanders’ relative lack of talent on the depth chart. Streit was basically the Isles’ number one blueliner while in Philly he will only be another defenseman and PP specialist.

  10. wisdomnfl - Aug 4, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    Building for future but still not a serious contender.

  11. glencoco93 - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:43 AM

    The Flyers fixed their problems pretty good. First off I’d Like to say our defense is built pretty good. we now have 3-4 offensive defense men, and we have 6 stay home defense men that could make this roster.
    First let’s take a look at why our defense has been a fail since Pronger got hurt.

    Line 1 Pronger Carle = well balanced offensive and defensive match up.

    Line 2 Timonen Coburn = well balanced offensive and defensive match up.

    Line 3 Mezsarous – O’Donnell- Ilija- Gustafsson- Lauridsen = Fair weather for a 3rd pairing.

    take Pronger out of this system and suddenly you only have one line that is Good. you move mezsarous up with carle and that’s a pretty average line. Take Mezsarous out of the 3rd pairing and that line goes from fair to awful!

    let’s fast forward a few years.

    our Lines today.

    Line 1 Timonen Schenn = Well balanced offensive and defensive match up.

    Line 2 Steit Grossmann = Well balanced offensive and defensive match up.

    Line 3 Mezarous- Coburn- Gustafsson- Lauridsen- Huskins- and more = Fair at the very minimum.

    The first Pairing was pretty solid last year I would say Timonen doesn’t have much left in him but he still has enough to lead this team for one more season Schenn is dominant on the back end, Timonen is dominant in the attacking end very well balanced as far as offense and defense is concerned.

    Now for the second line,
    I’m thinking Grossmann will be paired with Steit because Grossmann has the stay home abilities and physical play Streit doesn’t have. Grossmann can clear the crease, and Streit can get the puck out of our own zone. Streit is known for turning the puck over a lot but most offensive defense men have that very same issue! on the offensive end you have Streit a well above average blue liner and Power play quarterback that we lacked since Pronger. again these guys should each cover each other’s weaknesses and balance out quite nicely.

    The 3rd line has lots of talent all across the board. We have Mezsarous who is a good guy to build the line around and well Coburn could be that last guy. Coburn is a fair 2 way player that hasn’t lived up to his expectations. A lot of his time here in Philadelphia was effected by injuries within the lineup resulting in being asked to do too much and over played. I think the lesser he plays the better he will be. you pu these guys on the 3rd line and at the very least you’re going to get from these guys is a fair line. they could both redeem themselves. we saw what happened 2 years ago when all 3 lines were splitting time equally and how consistent coburn played. this should be a good year for coburn if he stays healthy.

    and it’s not like we don’t have any backups if somebody gets hurt. Gustafsson is ready as soon as Timonen, Streit, or Mezsarous gets hurt. Lauridsen or Huskins is ready as soon as Schenn Coburn or Grossmann Gets hurt.

    although we don’t have a true dominant #1 two-way player but we certainly have a lot of talented one trick ponies that can balance each other out quite nicely. The Penguins won a cup this way and well I am not too big of a fan of that method I do have to say it’s worth a shot because our long term alternatives won’t be ready for another couple years. Our alternatives are very limited as of now and If you’re going to keep me dreaming about the Stanley cup and take us to the playoffs for the next couple years doing this than I’m a happy camper I gotta admit. I hate when my team doesn’t make the playoffs. This should be a pretty good year for Flyers fans.

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