For the first time in five years, the Flyers will add two more names to their Hall of Fame on Nov. 16 — Paul Holmgren and Rick Tocchet.
Holmgren, a do-everything man for the Flyers who will also be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame this year, and Tocchet, a high-scoring, physical player over 11 seasons with the team, were selected out of a pool of six finalists by a voting committee of current Flyers Hall of Fame members, team alumni, members of the front office, broadcasters, and members of the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
“They belong in the Hall of Fame,” Flyers chairman Dave Scott said. “It’s really an exclusive club when you look at it. I think we have 25 people in over 33 years. It’s been very selective. They’re joining an elite group of people, from Bernie Parent, Billy Barber, Bobby Clarke and many, many others.”
Over the course of 40 years, Holmgren, 65, has worn just about every hat and helmet for the Flyers. He has served as player (1975-1984), assistant coach (1985-88), head coach (1988-92), general manager (2006-14) and president (2014-19) throughout his tenure with the organization. Even now, Holmgren works as a senior adviser to Scott.
Holmgren played 500 games as a Flyer, during which he scored 309 points (138 goals and 171 assists). He made a Stanley Cup Final appearance with the team in the 1979-80 season.
“I’m just kind of an everyday guy is the way I look at myself,” Holmgren said. “And to be going into the Flyers Hall of Fame with those players that are already in there and to be going with a player of Rick Tocchet’s caliberis the icing on the cake for me.”
Tocchet, 57, was a member of Flyers clubs that reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1985 and 1987. His 27 goals and 60 points in the Stanley Cup playoffs both rank 10th in franchise history. In 1988-89 and 1990-91, Tocchet reached the 40-goal plateau. His best season on paper with the Flyers came during the 1989-90 season when he had 96 points (37 goals, 59 assists) while recording 196 penalty minutes.
Over seven seasons, Tocchet played for Holmgren when he was both an assistant and a head coach.
“[Holmgren] was just a guy that helped my career in the sense [of] the way to play to game,” Tocchet said. “That the best Rick Tocchet could be is a tough guy up and down and every once in a while, you’d have to drop the gloves and score your goals in front of the net. I’m glad I got that message and was able to play 18 years, a lot of them with the Flyers.”
With center Morgan Frost being sent to the Phantoms, the Flyers shuffled three of their lines at Thursday’s practice. They finish their preseason schedule Friday in Washington.
Joel Farabee went to left wing on the second line, next to Derick Brassard and Cam Atkinson. Scott Laughton, who had been the fourth-line left winger, became the third-line center for wingers Oskar Lindblom and James van Riemsdyk. The fourth line had Nate Thompson centering Garrett Wilson/Jackson Cates and Nic Aube-Kubel. Wilson and Cates alternated at left wing.
Frost has recovered nicely from shoulder surgery in January, but he will begin the season in the AHL.
“I was actually pleasantly surprised by Morgan’s camp. I anticipated he’d be further behind than he was,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Thursday, adding “the coaches really liked Morgan and this was probably more my decision” to send Frost to the minors. “I thought his details, his commitment to defense, his competitiveness were above what I figured. You see players come back from shoulder surgery, it can be difficult for them to jump right back in with confidence.”
Frost, 22, did not score any points in three preseason games.
“Predictably, his timing is a little off, and I think having him go down to Lehigh Valley and play a lot, play every situation for Lappy (coach Ian Laperriere), will benefit him and allow him to get his timing back and his confidence back,” Fletcher said. “The next time you see him, he’ll be a vastly improved player.”
Avoiding injuries during the last preseason dance
With the Flyers’ roster down to 24 after a round of 10 cuts, Fletcher only has one final wish for his players heading into their final preseason game: don’t get hurt.
“I haven’t liked what I see that way,” Fletcher said. “A couple tough ones. But, no, at this point, honestly, you never know what you get in that last game. Sometimes, they’re intense.”
Around the league, players such as New York Rangers winger Ryan Reaves are expected to miss time after sustaining injuries during preseason games. The Flyers are already hurting due to injuries. Center Kevin Hayes was added to the injury report on Sept. 21 as he recovers from abdominal surgery and was expected to miss six to eight weeks.
Fletcher said he hopes it’s “closer to six than eight,” but he’ll have a better understanding of Hayes’ timeline once he hits the ice over the next couple of weeks.
Flyers winger Wade Allison, who sprained his right ankle in the Flyers’ second rookie exhibition game against the New York Rangers on Sep. 19, will not need surgery, according to Fletcher. However, Fletcher said he doesn’t expect Allison to return to play any time soon.
“A high ankle sprain is a tough injury and my experience with that is they’re very difficult to predict,” Fletcher said. “Every player that’s had it that I’ve been around is, again, the rehab sometimes is going great. Then you feel a tweak when you get back skating. It’s a tough injury.”
Aside from avoiding injuries, Fletcher looks forward to seeing more of the same energy on the ice against the Capitals that has been evident from top to bottom on the Flyers roster despite their 2-2-1 preseason record.
“The execution in the games has been a little up and down and here and there,” Fletcher said. “And certainly hasn’t been where it will need to be. But I think the effort level’s been great, and I think the attitude’s been great.”
Goalie Carter Hart took a maintenance day Thursday as he deals with minor “bumps and bruises,” according to coach Alain Vigneault. However, there’s no long-term concern for Hart’s availability. Backup goalie Martin Jones will get the start on Friday against the Capitals. ... With training camp nearly complete, Fletcher said the past few weeks have run smoothly with one exception: Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner’s accusation that Vigneault is a “dinosaur coach treating people [like] robots not human” who deserves to be fired. Fletcher defended his head coach on Thursday. “That’s completely unfair to AV,” Fletcher said. “Beyond unfair. I thought he handled it great.”