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LeClair, Sharp Look To Help Restore Flyers’ Winning Culture

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John LeClair
John LeClair

John LeClair wasn’t just part of the Flyers’ winning culture when he played.

He was the culture. A lot of it, at least. His Legion of Doom line was the talk of the NHL.

LeClair’s Flyers teams made the playoffs every year during his Philadelphia tenure (1994-04). The Flyers went to the Stanley Cup finals in 1997. They went to three other conference finals.

LeClair is the newly hired special advisor to hockey operations. He thinks that winning culture is what the Flyers need as their rebuild moves forward.

“I think the biggest thing that drives that [former Flyers returning to the organization] is the culture,” LeClair said on a Zoom call Wednesday. “I think the former guys that have been here and lived it understand the culture.

“That’s one thing we talked about is that we gotten away from a little bit of that and we want to get back to the Flyer culture that we had.

“That was …winning seasons. It didn’t bring us Cups but we’re gonna get to that next step. But that’s what we want to do, get over that final threshold and get to the Cup and win the Cup.

“It seems like it’s gone a little bit away from the culture that we had. That excitement in the building. Just that family feel that we had back when the Flyers were one of the top teams in the NHL. That’s what we want to get back to in a big way.”

Player Development

Part of LeClair’s role will be player development. He joined Patrick Sharp, who also was hired last week, as special advisors. LeClair played 649 games with the Flyers, scoring 333 goals and 331 assists. He won a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1993.

“I believe every winning team starts with a great culture, a great core group of players and a strong development system,” said Sharp, who won three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks.

“That’s what I’m excited to work with here in Philadelphia is helping some our young prospects take that next step and be great Flyers down the road.”

“I think it’s a big focus of the organization,” LeClair said about player development.

“Things aren’t good enough right now. We’re not where we want to be and we need to get better. And to get better we’re gonna need maybe some fresh legs and faces to get in there and do that.

“We have some pretty good talent that we can develop and that’s what we want to do. We want to get the most out of those guys for them and for us.”

LeClair has spent a decade as an agent after retiring in 2007. Sharp worked in TV after retiring, including working with Flyers president of hockey operations Keith Jones for three years at NBC.

“I’ve been in hockey my entire life,” LeClair said. “When I got done playing I took some time off. Then, I did about 10 years on the agent side of business of the hockey thing.

“It taught me a lot. I learned a lot. It’s good knowing some of these players from an early age. I enjoyed that part of the business.

“But being a part of a team and being involved in the team aspect of things, it’s as close as you get to playing to me.

“I really enjoy being part of the Flyers so that opportunity to be with the Flyers and be part of the hockey operations side. It’s not playing but it’s as close as you’re going to get at my age (53). I’m pretty thrilled about it.”

Job Description

As for his job description, LeClair said it’s going to be a little of everything.

“I’m going to be another voice,” LeClair said.

“It’s going to be everything from watching games, practices, checking on prospects down on the Phantoms. It’s going to be another set of eyes. I’ll be around the whole organization.

“Everybody is on the same page as far as what the goal is and how we want to go about doing it.”

LeClair hopes to work closely with the players and help them work their way through their lives as a professional hockey players.

“It’s going to be a lot of personal knowledge of the kids, having that repertoire between kids so they talk to you, feel really comfortable, ask them anything about their game,” LeClair said.

“Anything that’s bothering them, what they don’t feel right about their game, or they don’t understand the coach or the message that they’re trying to get. We want to make sure it’s a real open and friendly atmosphere that they feel real confident and feel secure talking to us about anything.

“These kids are going to learn a lot. That’s what the goal is. You want to get the most out of them. You want them to be the best they can be so they can get the most out of their career.

“It’s going to be one of those things that’s just going to happen. Between camp here in July and camp in September we’ll get a feel for what we have and what guys need a little more attention and what guys don’t.

“If you have a kid who’s struggling, you don’t want to lose him. You want to make sure he stays with us and he doesn’t get too frustrated or get too upset with himself and try to get him back in the loop and keep that development going in an upward path.”

Culture Is Priority

LeClair said the culture that Jones and general manager Daniel Briere talk about are what drew him to this Flyers job. For the Flyers moving forward, culture is a priority.

“They talk about the culture, the attitude, the feel that they want to have around the building and the product they want to put on the ice,” LeClair said.

“Everybody is focused on what we want to accomplish as far as what we want to see on the ice as a team … It’s going to happen and hopefully it’s going to happen sooner than later.

“We all know it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. But it’s a competitive edge, too.

“By no means does this rebuild mean that we’re tanking or everything is over. We’re going to be competitive. We’re there to win every game and that’s the bottom line and we’re going to have that line set from Day 1. That’s how we’re approaching it.”

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