Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:11 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 9:15 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Midway through the second period of Tuesday's game between Detroit and Philadelphia, Flyers forward Jakub Voracek was on the receiving end of this crushing hit from Niklas Kronwall, one of the biggest hitters in the NHL (his resume is all over the Internet).
It's pretty clear right away that Voracek was in some trouble, and that's Flyers analyst -- and former Flyers player -- Bill Clement asking where the freakin' whistle was as Voracek was on the ice trying to figure out what just happened to him.
There was no penalty called on the play, but it's pretty obvious that the head is the principal point of contact, which means it's definitely going to get a look from the NHL, especially since Voracek appeared to be injured as a result of the hit.
Voracek scored his 12th goal of the season earlier in the game.
Given the issues the Flyers have had this season with concussions (Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, Brayden Schenn, James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere and Matt Read have all missed games due to one this year) there has to be some concern in Philadelphia after watching that hit.
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Posted on: January 21, 2012 6:46 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2012 6:51 pm
By: Adam Gretz
It's been a couple of hours since an NHL player was announced to be out with a concussion, so we were probably due for another one, just because that's the way it seems to be going this season.
The Flyers picked up a 4-1 win against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon, but they were the latest team to lose a player with a concussion. The unlucky player this time: forward Danny Briere, as announced by general manager Paul Holmgren after the game.
Briere played just a little over 16 minutes in the win and was also on the receiving end of multiple hits throughout the game, including a couple from Anton Volchenkov (including the one shown above) and Mark Fayne, as well as a punch from forward Patrik Elias.
Concussions have been a major problem throughout the league, and few teams have dealt with as many as the Flyers. They're already playing without James van Riemsdyk and Chris Pronger, and have spent time this season without Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn. Pronger's season is already considered to be over, while it's not yet known how long Briere will have to be sidelined.
After the game he sent a text message to Sarah Baicker of CSN Philly that said, "I'm not too good right now. I don't even know what happened."
He has 13 goals and 17 assists in 42 games this season.
Along with Briere, the Flyers also lost Jaromir Jagr in this game as he left early with the same groin injury that has been bothering him throughout the season.
Previously at Eye On Hockey
Pronger's wife: he has good days and bad days
Pronger out for season
NHL Concussions this season
More Flyers news
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 19, 2012 12:57 pm
Chris Pronger's season was shut down by the Philadelphia Flyers more than a month ago after it was revealed Pronger was suffering from post-concussion syndrome. It's been tough on the Flyers captain, not only dealing with the symptoms but also dealing with not playing.
With a lot of the concussed players, you hear about them having good days and bad days. It affects them so much each day is defined so starkly (and easily, unfortunately).
That's the case too for Pronger. His wife Lauren attended an event that both she and her husband were supposed to be at but Chris had to stay home as it was a bad day. Lauren talked with CSN Philadelphia about how tough it has been for her husband and family.
It's pretty tough to hear, particularly at the end of the video when you can tell that Lauren is doing her best to remain composed, saying that they would love to just have a couple of good days in a row.
Tweets like the following are common for Savard to share.
There is a reason why you hear so much about concussions and all the steps to prevent them, because what these guys are going through can sometimes be the result.
Posted on: January 14, 2012 12:21 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2012 12:24 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk has been the subject of some trade rumors over the past week. Now his name is the latest one added to the list of NHL players out with a concussion.
Said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren on Saturday, "James was hit in the head in each of our last two games. He reported yesterday, not feeling like himself. He will be out indefinitely with a concussion."
Philadephia has been hit hard with concussion issues this season, as van Riemsdyk joins teammates Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Chris Pronger (likely out for the season as a result of his) as players to miss time this season with one.
In 37 games this season he's scored 11 goals and recorded 11 assists.
Over the past couple of days the rumor mill has been swirling with van Riemsdyk's name being mentioned as a possibile target of the Toronto Maple Leafs in a deal that would have involved Luke Schenn. As should be expected, both teams have denied the rumors.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: December 25, 2011 1:36 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2011 1:37 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The new year is right around the corner, and now that 2011 is almost in our rear view mirror, it's time to look ahead to what might be for the NHL in 2012.
1) What, if anything, will (or can) the NHL do about its concussion problem?
The NHL has a problem, and it's been highlighted throughout this season as some of the league's best and brightest players have been sidelined with head injuries at various times. And in many cases, an extended period of time.
Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, Milan Michalek, Mike Richards, David Perron, Marc Staal … the list goes on and on, and it doesn't seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. You can't go a week in the NHL, sometimes even a day, without hearing that another player has been diagnosed with a concussion or has been experiencing concussion-like symptoms.
With the NHL's collective bargaining agreement expiring after this season it's worth asking what the league and the NHLPA can do to help combat this problem. A complete banishment on all head shots will always be talked about it, but it seems unlikely to happen as long as the NHL's old guard remains in charge.
Perhaps my favorite suggestion, and one that would probably please most everybody, including the goaltenders, is to eliminate the ridiculous and nonsensical trapezoid rule and allow goaltenders to play more pucks in the corners. That would potentially reduce the number of times defensemen have to be subjected to violent hits from oncoming forecheckers in the corners. Reintroducing the red line to slow the pace through the neutral zone has been brought up, as well as possible the addition of no-touch icing.
And speaking of player safety...
2) Will we get any closer to mandatory visors?
As we've talked about before, there are still enough players that view visors as their own personal choice (which it currently is) and something that they shouldn't be forced to wear.
But that was also once true for helmets and goalie masks, and they've now become an accepted (and common sense) piece of equipment. The issue seems to be getting more and more attention than it has in recent seasons, and the first reaction that comes up anytime somebody takes a puck or a stick near the face is to automatically look to see if said player is wearing a protective visor. Like the addition of helmets, it's likely a rule that will be grandfathered in. Perhaps making matters easier is the fact that many of the young players entering the league today are already wearing visors given that they're mandatory at the sports lower levels (the Canadian Junior Leagues, the American Hockey League).
3) Will the 2012 NHL season start on time?
The NFL went through a dreadful lockout that eliminated its offseason and threatened the start of its regular season, which was then followed by the NBA missing a large chunk of its regular season due to its own completely pointless work stoppage. Major League Baseball, suddenly the model of long-term labor peace in professional sports, quietly and quickly went about its business and had everything settled before anybody even realized their agreement was up for discussion.
And now it's the NHL's turn. Panic? Fire and brimstone?
Will the league and the NHLPA be able to come to some sort of an agreement like MLB did, or will it be more along the lines of the NFL and NBA where it's a long, drawn out process with maddening twists and turns that leaves fans pulling out their hair?
The last time we were in this position we lost an entire season and came back to a completely different league.
4) Will the Coyotes remain in Phoenix?
Until the team actually moves to a new home or a long-term, viable ownership situation is in place in Phoenix this question will not be going away. And if the former is what happens, what does that do to the NHL's new conference alignment?
The league went through a franchise relocation in 2011 that resulted in a radical realignment as the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg, leading to the NHL overhauling its divisions and playoff format.
But what happens if the Coyotes, after surviving another season in the desert, don't remain in Phoenix and relocate, as has been talked about and expected for years? Do we have to go through another realignment discussion and re-do everything that was just settled?
5) How many more turns for the NHL's coaching Carousel?
Nearly half of the league went through some sort of head coaching change during 2011, and let's face it, with way NHL teams dismiss coaches there is no doubt the coaching carousel will continue to spin out of control. It's already kind of amazing that, with all of the changes that have taken place this season, Columbus' Scott Arniel has made it as long as he has given the worst start in franchise history. Toronto's Ron Wilson is in the final year of his contract and has recently taken to Twitter asking Santa Claus for a certain piece of paper (presumably a contract) for Christmas.
6) Will Nashville be able to keep its prized defensemen?
When Nashville signed goaltender Pekka Rinne to his massive contract extension earlier this season it produced one of two possibilities going forward: A) The team will now be a "cap team" and spend more money than it's ever spent before in an effort to keep its best homegrown players, or B) the signing of Rinne means one (or both) of their two No. 1 defenseman, Shea Weber or Ryan Suter, will eventually be lost to free agency.
Weber still has one more year before he hits the unrestricted market, and will once again be up for restricted free agency after this season. Suter, on the other hand, if he hasn't signed before July 1, will be eligible to sign with the highest bidder.
7) Who will host the next Winter Classic?
Technically this game won't be played until 2013, but the decision will be made long before then and every team wants an opportunity to host what has become the NHL's signature regular season event. Gary Bettman has already all but promised Washington D.C. the game in the very near future, so that's on the table.
I'm a fan of taking the game to Michigan, perhaps the Big House in Ann Arbor, for a Red Wings game, or even to the State of Hockey and allowing the Minnesota Wild to play host to the game for its passionate fan base at perhaps either Target Field (home of the Minnesota Twins) or TCF Bank Stadium (University of Minnesota stadium).
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Adam Gretz, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Pronger, Claude Giroux, Coaching Carousel, Columbus Blue Jackets, Concussions, David Perron, Detroit Red Wings, Marc Staal, Mike Richards, Milan Michalek, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, NHL Discipline, Phoenix Coyotes, Ryan Suter, Scott Arniel, Shanaban, Shea Weber, Sidney Crosby, Winnipeg Jets
Posted on: December 21, 2011 10:38 am
When Claude Giroux was sidelined with a concussion, they had to prepare for the worst in Philadelphia -- many weeks or more without their leading scorer -- and hope for the best. They just might see their hopes realized.
That would be more than welcome for the Flyers. Already down their top defenseman and captain Chris Pronger for the season, getting their top forward back as soon as possible would be a relief. That is, unless, he is rushed back too soon and risks worsening his situation. Although I'd like to doubt this as a possibility with so much awareness on concussions these days and the fact that it's only December, that will always be a concern.
Giroux has been out four games since taking Wayne Simmonds' knee to the back of his head in an open-ice accident. Despite that, he still remains tied for the league lead in points with 39. Basically, his absence evened the playing field in that regard with Evgeni Malkin, who has the same number of points in one less game played than Giroux.
The Flyers are 2-1-1 since Giroux left the lineup. With a loss in Dallas, they will have their first three-game skid of the season. While that might make for more compelling HBO television, it isn't necessarily welcome in the Philly locker room.
Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2011 5:28 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The Boston Bruins completely dismantled the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon, cruising to a 6-0 win in a game that featured the type of physical play that is to be expected anytime these two teams are on the same ice surface.
It wasn't a physical hockey play, however, that resulted in the latest head injury for a Flyers player. With time ticking down in the opening period, and the Flyers already facing a four-goal deficit, rookie forward Sean Couturier was involved in a rather scary incident in front of the net when he was hit in the side of the head with a puck following a shot from his own teammate, defenseman Kimmo Timonen.
He left the game and did not return with what general manager Paul Holmgren described as "a head injury."
That's the type of month it's been for the Flyers, a team that's already lost forwards Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn, as well as defenseman Chris Pronger, to concussions. It was announced this past week that Pronger is expected to be out for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs, while there is no immediate timetable for Giroux or Schenn to return.
Of course, that wasn't the only noteworthy development during Saturday's game.
Late in the second period Bruins forward Milan Lucic was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for hitting Zac Rinaldo from behind, setting off one of the game's three fights.
Given that there was an ejection it's sure to get at least another look from the NHL's disciplinary czar, Brendan Shanahan, even if nothing comes of it. Over the past week we've seen Toronto's Dion Phaneuf and Winnipeg's Zach Bogosian be ejected for hits from behind with no supplemental discipline handed out by the league.
Saturday's game also marked the return of defenseman Zdeno Chara to the Boston lineup and he responded with a Gordie Howe Hat Trick, scoring a goal, recording an assist and fighting Philadelphia's Jody Shelley.
For the Bruins, it's their fourth in a row, a stretch that's seen them outscore their opponents 19-5, as they continue their dominant run that started over a month ago that's seen them post an 18-2-1 record since November 1.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 2:35 pm
There must be something in the water in Pennsylvania. That's the old cliché people turn to when they can't make sense of what's going on, how people (or teams in this case) continue to perform at a high level despite the obstacles.
We saw it last year (and again this season, really) with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Despite being without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin the second half of last season, they just kept on winning. Their 106 points were tied with the Flyers for most in the Atlantic and were just one point behind the Capitals for best in the East.
This season, the Flyers are getting their own taste of life without their Stars. And just like their Keystone State brethren, they continue to win. As in seven in a row.
Philly has been playing without its captain Chris Pronger for a month now. After yesterday's news, they are going to have to play the rest of the season without him, too. In fact, some are saying that Pronger might never play a game again. After all, he is 37 and he has a life after hockey to think about.
As good as Pronger is and has been his entire career, the Flyers have done a good job overcoming his absence this season -- nay, a great job. Since he last played against Winnipeg on Nov. 19, the Flyers have won nine of 11 games.
As callous as it always feels, the Flyers must move on. While their captain and best defenseman deals with severe post-concussion syndrome, they have a very promising season to continue. With the roster freeze coming next week, it's unlikely the Flyers will acquire some additional help on the blue line in the near future, but it will have to be a consideration for Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.
Holmgren told the media on Friday that he's already considered that, having called all 29 teams, presumably about any defensemen they might have available.
But that's for then. Right now, the Flyers are making due without him or their budding superstar center Claude Giroux (or simply G, as they team calls him). It doesn't seem like it will be a long shelving for Giroux, but you never can know, concussions tend to be pretty fickle.
In the only games the Flyers have played without either player, they have won. Despite missing their leading scorer and a point-producing defenseman, Philly has still averaged 4.5 goals in the two games without Giroux and Pronger.
But now a real test comes to see how they compare with the other beats of the East without the two stars.
The Boston Bruins are nipping on the Flyers' heels for the best record in the Eastern Conference and they, too, have been playing without arguably their best player (skaters-only division) in Zdeno Chara. But the big man might be back in time for the Saturday matinee in Philadelphia.
"We're going to give him a chance to fly and see how he feels," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "If he feels good then we have a chance of seeing him."
Normally I'd lament this game being played without Giroux, Pronger and possibly Chara. But with the way both of them, the Flyers in particular, have played without the all-stars, I don't see it stopping what will likely still be a very good game.
Winnipeg welcome wagon rolls on
This first season with the Jets back in the NHL has been an ongoing welcome wagon for the folks in Manitoba. They were licking their chops at getting to see Ilya Bryzgalov, they relished the opportunity to see former Jet Shane Doan back in Winnipeg.
Now comes perhaps the best welcome/return of them all; Teemu Selanne.
The veteran once starred for the Jets before he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks. He has waited for the chance to go back and play in the first NHL city he called home. Now it comes on Saturday night.
"You know, even when the schedule came out, even when I didn't know if I was going to play or not, I checked right away if we were going to Winnipeg," Selanne said. "That day was on my calendar right away.
"I knew there were two really special things. Obviously the Finland trip and then Winnipeg. It was really exciting to even think about it."
Unlike the welcomes fans in Winnipeg gave to Bryzgalov and, to an extent, Doan, it's hard to imagine there will be any jeers, only cheers for Selanne.
"He was so admired. It was overwhelming," Jets chairman Mark Chipman said of Selanne. "This guy was so good and so approachable and so humble in his approach that the community just absolutely fell head over heels for the guy."
Amazingly, Selanne is still performing at the level he was when he first broke into the NHL with the Jets in the early 90s. That's only going to help the flashbacks for the fans -- minus that whole wearing the Ducks jersey part.
Back in Buffalo
One of the more criticized offseason signings (excluding just about every move made by the Florida Panthers) was the Toronto Maple Leafs signing former Sabres center Tim Connolly. Leafs GM Brian Burke gave Connolly a two-year deal worth $4.75 million per season.
People in Buffalo laughed and simply said "Enjoy!" to their near-neighbors in Toronto. It wasn't about Connolly being a bad player -- he's not at all -- but it was about his health concerns. There always seemed to be something that was keeping Connolly on the bench.
So there's a sense of irony when the Maple Leafs visit the First Niagara Center this weekend. Connolly will be healthy and on the ice against his former team. Although he hasn't been without his health issues this season, when he's been on the ice, he's been good for Toronto. In 18 games played, he has 15 points.
On the other hand, the deal that Buffalo signed with Ville Leino was widely applauded. That one hasn't worked out so well.
Reunion tour continues
Varlamov was traded to the Avs this summer after he made it clear that he was looking to play in the KHL over Washington. So Caps GM George McPhee swung a deal with the Avs to give them Varlamov in exchange for Colorado's first-round draft pick this offseason and their second-round pick.
So not only do the Caps get the chance to say hi to an old friend, but they can help themselves out in more ways than one. The points in the standings are the first and most obvious way, but every game without points for the Avs helps the Caps' first-round draft pick go higher and higher.
Although it's quieted down with Varlamov coming back down to earth, when he and the Avalanche were off to their hot starts, some in Washington wondered if the team made the wrong goalie decision. There might still be some questions considering the duo of Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth hasn't fared much better, if at all. But at least Neuvirth comes into the game having just shut out the Jets in Winnipeg, so there might be some positive momentum building. The goaltending problems have been as much an issue as anything in D.C. this season.
Canucks are still great
In fact, according to Roberto Luongo they are better than they were last season, which was great.
"We were one win away, so I don't think you need to change much," Luongo said. "That being said, though, we went through a lot last year, and I think we grew as a team. So for that reason alone, I think that we're better than last year."
That's even with him still getting a lot of starts in the net. Remember, he was a Vezina finalist last season. This season? Not so much.
Their next chance to prove Lu right will come in Toronto on Saturday evening for another Hockey Night in Canada appearance.
Stammer don't hurt 'em!
More like don't get hurt Stammer.
With his overtime winner on Thursday night, Steven Stamkos joined Milan Michalek on the top of the goal-scoring list this season with his 19th. Hopefully the same fate that has befallen many of the game's best scorers in recent weeks won't strike the Lightning's superstar.
With Michalek, Giroux, Sidney Crosby and Jeff Skinner (among many others) recently being diagnosed with concussions or at least post-concussion symptoms, the last thing the league wants is another young star to go down. If anything, it would probably love to see Stamkos go on one of his tears and become a positive story in the league again.
He'll have the chance to take the lead in the goals race by himself when Tampa Bay heads to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets.
We're going streaking!
Flyers: As mentioned, they are the hottest thing going in the NHL right now between their seven-game win streak and HBO's 24/7.
Bruins: Philly's opponent brings a modest three-game run of itself into the Saturday matchup.
Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues: We're going to combine these two because they are both riding four-game win streaks and they will face off against one another on Saturday. The Blues also have the Jackets on Sunday.
Dallas Stars: Last on the win side, the Pacific-leading Stars take to New Jersey seeking to extend their three-game streak on Scott Niedermayer Night.
Florida Panthers The Southeast leaders are on a mini slump having lost three in a row. They have the Flames and Hurricanes at home this weekend to try and cure the ills.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Brian Burke, Brian Stubits, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Chris Pronger, Claude Giroux, Claude Julien, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Concussions, Dallas Stars, Evgeni Malkin, Florida Panthers, George McPhee, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jeff Skinner, Mark Chipman, Michal Neuvirth, Milan Michalek, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, Paul Holmgren, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Roberto Luongo, Semyon Varlamov, Shane Doan, Sidney Crosby, St. Louis Blues, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Teemu Selanne, Tim Connolly, Tomas Vokoun, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Ville Leino, Washington Capitals, Weekend Preview, Winnipeg Jets, Zdeno Chara