General manager

Paul Holmgren

downplayed a story in yesterday's Inquirer about some of his players' crashing a Temple fraternity party in Old City last week.

They included star centers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

Photos from the party are floating around the Internet.

"I'm glad they didn't have stuff like that back in the old days," a smiling Holmgren said of today's technology.

Holmgren said it didn't bother him that some of his players were at the party.

"It doesn't concern me," he said. "These guys are young guys."

Richards, the team's captain, and Carter are both 23.

Nothing inappropriate was shown in the photos.

"I think it's important that our players understand they need to be responsible in the community," coach John Stevens said.

"These are young guys, and we encourage all of our players to have good lifestyle habits that are going to allow them to be good players - and I haven't seen anything to the contrary.

"But they are in the public eye and they are popular in the community, and I think they have to be aware of their surroundings wherever they go."

Stevens said players are under the microscope in the communication age.

"With camera phones and the technology that's out there, you can pretty much document everything you want to see everywhere you go," he said.

Added Stevens: "I played junior hockey, so I'm not as attuned to the frat parties as you guys may be."

Biron still ill

Goalie

Marty Biron

, who missed Tuesday's 5-2 win over Colorado with the flu, did not make the trip to Montreal, where the Flyers play tonight. "No sense taking him and getting in late and wearing him down ever further," Stevens said.

Antero Niittymaki (6-1-2, 2.63 goals-against average) will start tonight against the Canadiens, with Phantoms call-up Scott Munroe serving as his backup.

Stevens said that he expects Biron to be ready for one of the weekend games - Saturday against Washington or Sunday at New Jersey - but that he felt confident Munroe was capable if pressed into action.

"Scotty Munroe has worked extremely hard on his game and conditioning, and he's really elevated himself on the depth chart in our organization," the coach said.

Briere update

Center

Danny Briere

, recovering from a groin injury, has started skating and says he hopes to return to the lineup in early January.

"Nothing too intense," he said of his workouts. "No stops and starts or quick changes of directions. Just taking it one step at a time."

The Flyers are 2-4-3 with Briere in the lineup and 15-3-3 without him.

"It would be fun to be part of it when the team is hot and finding ways to win," he said. "At the same time, it makes my recovery easier. Everyone is happy and in a good mood, and I don't feel like I have to rush anything."

Briere planned to make the trip to Montreal yesterday "just to hang out with the guys."

Breakaways

Defenseman

Ryan Parent

is still hoping to return to the lineup Dec. 26 in Chicago. He may play with the Phantoms for a few games. . . .

Luca Sbisa's

parents arrived from Switzerland earlier in the week so they could spend the holidays with the 18-year-old defenseman. . . .

Forward

Simon Gagne

said he had neck stiffness that caused him to miss a few late shifts Tuesday but said it wasn't serious.

- Sam Carchidi