Flyers chairman Ed Snider sees more positives than negatives in NHL realignment
Most of the Flyers had a wait-and-see attitude about the NHL's realignment that will take place next season. But club chairman Ed Snider, in a phone conversation from California on Tuesday, said there will be more positives than negatives in the format.
Most of the Flyers had a wait-and-see attitude about the NHL's realignment that will take place next season.
But club chairman Ed Snider, in a phone conversation from California on Tuesday, said there will be more positives than negatives in the format.
On Monday, the NHL's board of governors voted, 26-4, in favor of the new setup; the Flyers were one of the 26, Snider said.
The Flyers will be in a still-to-be-named seven-team conference with Pittsburgh, the Islanders, the Rangers, Washington, New Jersey, and Carolina. They will face each conference team six times, and play a home-and-home series with the league's other 23 teams.
"We liked what we had," Snider said of the current setup, "but it hurt a lot of other clubs."
He said teams like the Flyers "sacrificed" - they will have to travel more - and went with the new format for the overall good of the league. Now teams in the West and Midwest will do less traveling and play a lot more games in their own time zones.
"It's not perfect, but it helps a lot of clubs," said Snider, who will be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday in Chicago. "And I think the fact you'll now play everybody in the league made a major difference" to voters.
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov learned about the realignment from reporters after Tuesday's practice in Voorhees. He wasn't exactly thrilled with the plan.
"You know what, man? That's much more travel," he said. "Damn, man."
Center Danny Briere said the realignment had "some good parts and some bad parts, and there are some parts that are not as fun."
Briere, a French Canadian, was disappointed the Flyers will make only one trip to Montreal and to the city where he used to play, Buffalo, starting next season.
"It is what it is," he said. "Everybody knew they had to change something, so that's probably the best they could do to make as many people as they could happy."
"It's going to be different, but it's going to be good," forward Max Talbot said. "I'm glad we were able to keep most of the same rivalries. It's going to be a little bit more traveling for the Eastern Conference teams, a little bit less for the Western."
The best part, Talbot said, is that fans get to see every team at least once. Fans out West are assured of seeing Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Claude Giroux, and Steven Stamkos, et al.
Adding Washington to the Flyers' mix "makes it tough, but makes it interesting," Talbot said.
The top four teams in each of the four conferences will make the playoffs. The first two rounds will be within the conference, meaning the Flyers might have to play Pittsburgh and Washington in the first two rounds. The Rangers could also be in the mix.
"Any time you play a team in the playoffs, it seems to breed bad blood," defenseman Braydon Coburn said. "It just seems like in that kind of format, you'll end up maybe playing some people in consecutive years in the playoffs."
In other words, the bad blood will intensify.
Some teams may be fortunate to be playing in a weak division, Briere said. "But sometimes playing against the best teams is a good thing. We'll see how it shakes out."
Breakaways. The Flyers will play in Buffalo Wednesday; they defeated the Sabres there on Nov. 2, 3-2, as they scored three goals - netted by Sean Couturier, James van Riemsdyk, and Scott Hartnell - in the first 6 minutes, 23 seconds and chased goalie Ryan Miller. . . . Van Riemsdyk, who has missed the last four games with an upper-body injury, has been given clearance to play, general manager Paul Holmgren said. That means winger Harry Zolnierczyk will probably be a healthy scratch. . . . Buffalo defenseman T.J. Brennan, the pride of Moorestown, was sent to AHL Rochester last week. He scored a goal in his NHL debut on Nov. 24 during a 4-3 shootout loss to Boston.