A day after 22-year-old center Mike Richards signed a 12-year contract extension with the Flyers that gives him financial security, Alexandre Picard was called up from the Phantoms hoping to find his own niche with the team.

Picard, a 6-foot-2 defenseman who played in 62 games for the Flyers last season, joined the team for a short workout yesterday at the team's practice facility in Voorhees, Camden County.

"It's great to be back," said Picard, who is also 22. "I kept a great attitude with the Phantoms, and that's what got me here. I'm going to try to take advantage of every opportunity I get. I just want to give support, and probably bring an offensive touch from the blue line - do the same things I did with the Phantoms. That's what got me here."

Flyers coach John Stevens welcomed the return of Picard, who had three goals and 19 assists last season.

"He was the lead guy on [the Phantoms'] power play," Stevens said. "He's a big guy who moves the puck well, and he can get the puck to the net from the blue line."

Like some of his teammates, Picard was in awe of Richards' $69 million contract extension.

"I thought it was crazy," Picard said with a big grin. "But he deserves every penny of it. He works hard. He's going to be the face of the franchise."

Scottie Upshall, a second-year Flyer who has spent parts of five seasons in the NHL, also expressed wonder at Richards' new deal.

"It is very lengthy, and not many guys get 12 years in this league," Upshall said. "I saw it as a great deal for the organization, and a dream come true for Mike. You love to see it for guys who are deserving and who work hard every day. Mike typifies that."

Richards leads the Flyers with 14 goals and 35 points this season.

"You dream about playing in the NHL, but you don't dream about something like this," Richards said of his new deal. "To get that kind of security, and to play in the NHL, you have to be happy about that."


Derian Hatcher (knee) skated yesterday. Stevens said the defenseman had a good chance of playing tonight against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes. Simon Gagne (concussion) is working out but is not quite ready to rejoin the lineup.