The Philadelphia Flyers took the ice for their first official day of training camp on Thursday. The team has a solid group of the core still remaining in Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, and others, with a handful of new guys in the mix. Those new faces –– mainly Cam Atkinson, Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Keith Yandle –– bring new energy and perhaps will help usher in a new era of Flyers hockey.
It was a summer of change for Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers. Now, they’re ready to put last season behind them and they know they have something to prove.
Flyers have “something to prove”
Alain Vigneault took note of the new energy on Thursday.
“It felt good for me,” Vigneault said of day one. “One of the things that stood out was new players and a lot of new guys wanting to get to the front of the lines during drills. People that were brought in. A lot of them were leaders, part of the core group in their teams prior to coming here and paying attention to the video, paying attention to the pre-ice, going out on the ice. Even though it was our first practice together, a lot of the guys wanted to go to the front of the lines and do it the right way so that’s a very positive sign.”
The Flyers have a new motto to go along with their new group for this coming season. The players are wearing shirts that say “Something to prove” on the front and “Got to get to work” on the back.
“That’s what it is,” Vigneault said of the motto. “Everyone on our team, coaches have something to prove, young players coming in have something to prove. Veteran Philly players have something to prove, and new veteran Philly players have something to prove. We all have something to prove individually or collectively. The only way to do it is by getting to work, which is what we are trying to do.”
The Flyers got to work on Thursday and it must’ve been refreshing for the returning group. It was a dreadful 2020-2021 season and the team is looking forward to a clean slate this season.
Hart ready to turn things around “right away”
Carter Hart may have the biggest weight on his shoulders heading into the season. The 23-year-old goalie looked lost at times last season. He posted a 9-11-5 record to go with an abysmal .877 SV% and 3.67 GAA. Hart is supposed to be the Flyers’ next franchise goalie. He’ll need to bounce back this season to prove that.
Luckily, Hart believes that he can turn things around “right away.”
“Just needed a break after last season,” Hart said. “Took some time off from the ice and had to recharge the batteries a little bit. Got into tennis this summer so that was fun. Golf is usually what I do over the summer. It was good to recharge and relax for a little bit. Had a good summer of training also.”
There are some signs of hope for Hart. After a week-long break in late March, he went 1-2-2 with a .910 SV%. Those aren’t fantastic numbers by any means, but Hart looked like his normal self in net and capped his season off with a 31-save win in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, Hart’s season ended due to a minor knee injury.
The young netminder was excited to get back out there on Thursday.
“Over the summer, I do a lot of goalie-specific work. It was nice to be back in a group setting and back in that practice mentality,” Hart said. “It was good to be back out there with everybody. Everybody is excited to get going today.”
Giroux confident in new-look Flyers
While Carter Hart is just entering his prime, Claude Giroux is on the other end of that. The face of the Flyers is in the last year of his contract and has gone through hell and back over the past decade.
Giroux had a respectable 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists) in 54 games last season. That included 13 multi-point games, including many in which he carried the Flyers to victory.
The captain is confident in this new, more experienced group.
“We have an older team and I think guys we brought in have a lot of experience. Some guys feel like they have something to prove and as a team we definitely feel like we have something to prove,” Giroux said. “First day was great. Obviously, we have two groups here but first day was good.”
The Flyers have alternated playoff appearances for nearly the past decade. After winning their first playoff round since 2012 in 2020, they swung and missed last season. The pattern says that they’ll make it, and their offseason moves do, too.
“Two years ago, we felt like we took a big step forward and last year we took a few steps back. Everything happened pretty quick last year, and it is not the team we want to be. That is not the team we believe we are,” Giroux said. “We are going to learn from that last year. This year the guys already look focused and look like they are ready to go. It’s really exciting.”
The Flyers are determined to prove themselves and they’ll get their first real test in just three weeks against the Canucks in the season opener.
Photo: Heather Barry Images