COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Flyers' Steve Mason, R. J. Umberger and Jake Voracek had different reactions to returning to Columbus, the city where their careers either started or blossomed.
Mason, who on Tuesday night will play his first game in Columbus since the Flyers acquired him late in the 2011-12 season, said he was past being a member of the Blue Jackets. Voracek, with the Flyers since the start of the 2011-12 season, said his days with Columbus are ancient history.
Umberger, however, said it will be emotional when he walks on the ice and faces the Blue Jackets Tuesday night. Last June, he was acquired with a 2015 fourth-round draft pick for Scott Hartnell.
"It's exciting to come back here. I have so many great memories here in this building," he said after the morning skate. "I love Columbus. I love the fans; they've been so good….To have some of those memories come back to you, you just enjoy the moment."
In Columbus history, Umberger is second on the all-time list in goals (120), third in points (250), third in game-winning goals (15), fourth in games (445), and fourth in assists (130).
Umberger, 32, has just four points this season, but he played well during the three-game West Coast trip that ended with Saturday's 2-1 win in Los Angeles.
"The last two or three games have definitely been my best games of the year. I'm feeling like myself, and the confidence is rising," said Umberger, who ended a 17-game point drought, the longest of his career, with a goal in Anaheim Wednesday. "I'm excited to continue it tonight and build off of it."
Umberger, who asked to be traded after last season because of "friction" with the Jackets' brass, said it took him a while to understand his role with the Flyers.
You have to "sit back and figure out what you've been doing your whole career that's done well for you," he said. "For me, it was trying to figure out my role on this team and how I can help out. Now I'm clear about it."
Umberger said he has to be a player who "can play up and down the lineup. There's going to be nights where I'm going to get power-play minutes, and there's going to be a lot of nights where I'm not. There are going to be nights where I play 14 or 15 (minutes). and sometimes I play 10. I've got to be ready to go every night. Penalty killing has to be one of the things I take a lot of pride in; it's good for our team."
Coach Craig Berube said Umberger has been a good role player lately; he has also been on the second power-play unit.
"He's skating way better; skating loose and getting on top of people, being physical, strong on the puck," Berube said. "Just what I expect from him like when I coached him before."
During the first period, the Blue Jackets will show a video highlight of Umberger's Columbus career.
"I'll be honored, touched," Umberger said. "I have nothing but unbelievable memories and good things to say about this organization and the ownership group and the passionate fans."
When he retires, Umberger and his wife and three children will reside in Powell, located about 15 minutes north of Columbus.