To clear salary-cap space and make room for
expected return, the Flyers tried to slip veterans
through waivers and keep them in the organization.
It didn't work.
Both were claimed yesterday - Metropolit by Montreal, the team the Flyers played last night, and Vaananen by Vancouver. Both were at the Flyers' morning skate yesterday before being notified about an hour later that they were going to other teams.
"I'm a little numb right now," Metropolit said outside the Montreal locker room before last night's game.
Metropolit and Vaananen were placed on waivers to help fit Briere's $6.5 million contract under the $56.7 million cap. But Briere, a center who has missed most of the season because of groin and abdominal injuries, did not play last night.
It appeared he sat because the Flyers weren't able to clear enough cap room, but general manager Paul Holmgren said that physically, Briere wasn't ready.
After the morning skate, Briere said, "I think I could probably play tonight."
"He may have said that to you, but when I talked to him, his words were, 'I just don't feel quite ready yet,' " Holmgren told reporters a half hour before the game. "We're not going to bring him back until he's completely sure he's healthy."
After last night's first period, Briere said: "It's happened twice [failed comebacks]. I forced it a little quick. So they decided they would rather play it safe this time around and give me another two extra days before the next game."
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen missed his third consecutive game because of the flu, causing the Flyers to dress Lasse Kukkonen last night.
To clear cap space for Briere, Kukkonen figures to be sent to the Phantoms when Timonen is healthy.
The Flyers hope Briere and Timonen can play tomorrow at New Jersey.
Coach John Stevens said he was disappointed at having lost Metropolit, a fourth-line center who was an effective penalty killer, and Vaananen, a physical player who was the team's seventh defenseman but had given the Flyers blue-line depth.
"It's the bad part of the business," Stevens said. "They're both good players and really good people."
"I'm happy for the fact they get an opportunity to keep playing in the league, but certainly sad to see them go because they've been big contributors on our hockey team."
Metropolit and Vaananan were popular in the locker room, and Stevens was asked whether he worried that their loss would affect the team's chemistry.
"Any time there are changes, there's a little bit of concern," he said. "But at the same time, we feel we have a group here that can absorb these kinds of things. . . . They're certainly disappointed to see friends move on, but they know it is part of the business."
will start in goal in the showdown with the Devils. Considering his history against Montreal - he is 13-8 with a 2.22 goals-against average - it was a bit surprising that he didn't face the Canadiens last night.
Antero Niittymaki, who was 1-8 with a 3.50 career goals-against average against Montreal, was the starter.
- Sam Carchidi