Flyers coach Alain Vigneault understands why many players around the league, including his own, say it is difficult being away from their families for up to three months because of training camp and the NHL tournament.
“Being away from people who are close to you is a challenge,” he said after one of the sessions at Training Camp II on Tuesday in Voorhees. “But that being said, it could be a month or it could be three months if we make it to the end, and this will be a time people will remember for the rest of their lives. I don’t feel anyone in our situation right now has any right to complain about anything.
“Obviously, we’re going to miss the people who are close to us — our families, our parents, etc. But we’re getting an opportunity here to compete for the Stanley Cup. We have one of the best facilities, the best people taking care of us, and if you look at what’s going on around the world right now, where people are losing their jobs, losing their businesses and going from paycheck to paycheck, we’re the lucky ones. We’re playing a sport, a sport that we all love. We’re going to get a chance [to win a Cup]. That’s one of the things I talked to the guys about.”
Vigneault said his players need to stay safe during this preparation phase to get to the bubble in Toronto, “and I don’t expect to hear really a lot of complaining. We’re a fortunate group in today’s society.”
The NHL will permit players to see their families during the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final, both in Edmonton.
Between the two practice sessions Tuesday, Vigneault said he is leaning on veterans like Claude Giroux and Matt Niskanen “to bring our group together and to help everyone understand the preparation and the will that is needed to be successful in these playoff times.”
The Flyers open their three-game, round-robin tourney against Boston on Aug. 2 in Toronto.
During the season’s long pause, backup goalie Brian Elliott stayed sharp in the latter weeks by practicing at a Madison, Wis., rink with some NHL and college players. “We just tried to make the most of it,” Elliott said. “We went about two times a week to start and then got up to three. Had some personal goalie coaching as well and tried to get back to the fundamentals that sometimes you elude when you are off for a while.”
Added Elliott: “I feel good; the boys look good. I think we are just gaining confidence day by day here.”
Elliott said the Flyers want to finish as high as possible in the round-robin seeding tourney to get the home-ice advantage in the playoffs and get the last line change.
Starting in April, right winger Jake Voracek skated in Prague and played against other NHL players twice a week.
“I got lucky because everything opened up back home,” he said. “... Never skated this much in the summer. It’s going to be an advantage for me.”