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Flyers’ Marc Staal Has How-To-Win Message For His New Team

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Nobody expects the Philadelphia Flyers to make the Stanley Cup finals anytime soon. Even qualifying for the playoffs next season seems a reach.

But it’s never too early to instill a winning spirit and attitude into the locker room — especially a room with so many young players like the Flyers expect to have.

When the Philadelphia Flyers signed 36-year-old defenseman Marc Staal last month, they were getting experience on the ice and a potential mentor off the ice. Staal has played 1,101 NHL games. There can’t be much he hasn’t seen in his hockey career.

His experience could be invaluable.

Staal could pair with 22-year-old Cam York, as he continues to develop his game. The Flyers are hoping York takes another leap forward next season into solid, top-four defensive pairing territory.

Staal is coming off an amazing Stanley Cup finals run with the eighth-seeded Florida Panthers. Florida upset the Presidents’ Trophy winners Boston in seven games. Florida then upset Toronto and Carolina before losing in the finals to Vegas in five games.

Staal played for Flyers coach John Tortorella with the Rangers. Staal said he thought he could convey Tortorella’s message to his teammates because he’s been there.

Leadership Lessons

When Staal met the media he talked about providing leadership to his new team. He thought his Stanley Cup experience would help deliver the message.

“It’s hard to explain until you’re in it but I think the mentality throughout the season is it’s extremely hard to get into the playoffs,” Staal said. 

“Nothing’s ever given to you. You have to work at your game in order to get there. Once you’re there [in the playoffs], everything just becomes tighter, and checking and defense and details. All that stuff is just magnified.

“And the team that does it best over and over again usually wins. So I think just that message of team accountability and how you’re playing your systems and how your approach playing defense for your team and all that stuff just builds as you go.

“You play 82 games in the regular season to be able to skate out there in Round 1. It’s why you play hockey and that’s why you play the game and it’s the most fun time of the year.

“The work starts right now to try to get into the dance. Just the message of how hard it is and how rewarding it is after that hard work is the biggest thing.”

Wise words from a guy who has been there.

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Around The National Hockey Network:

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Colorado Hockey Now: Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy with high praise for Cale Makar.

Detroit Hockey Now: Alex DeBrincat has new agent.

Florida Hockey Now: Veteran Dmitry Kulikov is glad to be back with Panthers.

Montreal Hockey Now: The three worst free-agent signings in Canadiens history.

New York Islanders Hockey Now: Playoff chances slim for Isles in crowded Eastern Conference.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Here’s why Penguins president Kyle Dubas picked the best general manager.

Vegas Hockey Now: Why it’s Stanley Cup or bust for Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl.

Washington Hockey Now: Why the contract extension for Tom Wilson makes sense.

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