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Briere: Ronnie Attard ‘Earned’ Role, Place on Flyers Roster

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Ronnie Attard led the Philadelphia Flyers in penalty kill minutes in the 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina on Thursday. (Photo: AP)

When the Philadelphia Flyers first called up Ronnie Attard from the AHL on Feb. 29, many thought that the roster move was a precursor to the Sean Walker trade that ended up taking place six days later.

According to the man calling the shots for the Flyers, that was not actually the case.

Instead, general manager Danny Briere, along with Lehigh Valley Phantoms head coach Ian Laperriere and others, felt that Attard earned the chance to prove he belongs in the NHL, injuries and trades notwithstanding.

“Ronnie has earned it. I thought Ronnie has worked on his game this year. We asked him to focus on becoming a better defender in Lehigh Valley, and he’s worked hard at that,” Briere said in a recent phone interview with Philly Hockey Now. “And that’s part of the reason why he’s earned a call-up. It wasn’t about doing him a favor and trying to see if he could play at this level. He really earned it.

“There’s a lot of good defensemen – prospect defensemen – down in Lehigh Valley when you go down the list. Ronnie, at the time, was the one that was playing well and deserved the call-up.”

Since coming up, Attard has played seven games for the Flyers, supplying one assist in a fringe-second pairing role on a depleted defense corps. His average ice time of 16:18 is closely in line with his NHL average of 16:31, but perhaps the biggest surprise is that Attard has played a healthy amount of penalty kill minutes for the Flyers as well.

In Thursday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina, Attard paced the Flyers in short-handed ice time with 2:37. In comparison, Cam York played 2:00 while Travis Sanheim managed just 0:51. A veteran defenseman like Erik Johnson played only 0:26.

Don’t let the modest overall ice time fool you; Attard has already seemingly earned the full trust of the Flyers’ management and coaching staff. The 25-year-old came into the season with just 17 games of NHL experience, and with one year remaining on his current contract, Attard is running out of time to show he can be a full-time NHLer.

So far, Attard is showing that during this cameo. Briere and the Flyers agree.

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