Oh, things have not started well in Philadelphia. The Flyers are winless in four games (0-2-2), their lone points coming in shootouts, the worst on Saturday when they blew a 3-0 lead against Montreal and lost in a shootout (as an aside, no one should get a point for that kind of performance). And the news doesn't get any better as injuries continue to mount. Vincent Lecavalier will miss a couple of weeks after blocking a shot Saturday, and the Flyers hit the road for stops in Dallas, Chicago and Pittsburgh. Lecavalier stayed in Saturday's contest and actually took the first shootout attempt for the Flyers, but local reports indicate he left the building with his foot in a walking boot. It's too bad because Lecavalier was off to a good start, with a goal and two assists and eight shots on goal in three games. He was also logging power-play time and looked to be back in a groove after a difficult end to last season that saw him switched from his lifelong position as a center to the wing.
It's been a tough transition from Tampa, where he'd spent his entire career, to Philadelphia, where the 34-year-old signed a five-year, $22.5 million deal after being bought out by the Lightning.
"Well, ended up being more difficult, that's a good way to put it," Lecavalier told ESPN.com.
After coming back from injury, "I was put in a position I haven't played before," he said. "A little bit of an adjustment. It was tough to adapt."
While there was much speculation in the offseason that Lecavalier would be traded, no move took place, and he talked about his affection for the Flyers and his belief in his abilities.
"I think every year, no matter if you had a great year the year before or not so good of a year, I think you start with a clean slate and it's a new year,” he said. "I believe in my game and what I can bring to the team. I have confidence in that."
Gudas should have been punished
Maybe it's just that everyone was at the Chris Pronger icebreaker at NHL headquarters (everyone decked out in their favorite Philadelphia Flyers jersey) or maybe it's just that I don't understand exactly what the league is prepared to accept in terms of on-ice dangers, but I still don't get how the devastating hit by the Tampa Bay Lightning's Radko Gudas on Scottie Upshall of the Florida Panthers last week passed without a sound from the league. Yes, Upshall had his head down trying to locate a pass just inside his own blue line. And no, Gudas didn't leave his feet to make the hit. But the principal point of contact is Upshall's head. The contact is made by forearm/elbow and Upshall is completely defenseless. The department of player safety, to which Pronger now belongs, has a lot of leeway to impose sanctions that in theory make the game safer. The notion that this play somehow didn't fit nicely into an accepted rule box is a cop-out. How was this different from a hit from behind? You can argue -- and some do -- that a player with his back to the play needs to be aware of potential danger, just as Upshall should have been more aware in open ice of the potential dangers around him. Yet the NHL has made it crystal clear to players that it's wrong to drill opponents from behind. That's a progressive thing. The video of Gudas' hit on Upshall should be shown to GMs when they meet in Toronto in November. They should be asked: Do you want this hit delivered on one of your players? The answer should be a resounding no. And then they should be asked what they would like to do about it in the light of the league's disappointingly passive stance for a clearly dangerous hit on an unsuspecting player.
It was Selanne's time
I'm pretty sure that future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne is feeling pretty embarrassed for unloading on Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau in an authorized biography released in Finland a short time ago. As he should be. The Finnish Flash, one of the game's great ambassadors and a treat to deal with for journalists the world over, angrily suggested that it was Boudreau's fault that Selanne retired at the end of last season. Selanne, who turned 44 over the summer, also took time during the Olympics in Sochi last winter to take not-so-subtle jabs at his NHL coach while enjoying a renaissance tournament, winning a bronze medal and playing like a man half his age. But the Olympic game is a different game, and when I read Selanne's comments, I recalled watching the Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings play a few days before the Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium in January. The Ducks won this particular game at the Honda Center in Anaheim in a rollicking, hard-hitting contest that was one of the best regular-season games I've seen in many a moon. At one point I turned to a veteran NHL writer in the press box, and I wondered aloud about who was the most obviously out-of-place player on the ice. There was immediate consensus that it was Selanne. The game was too fast, too hard for him to keep up. This isn't a shot at Selanne, but rather a reminder that sometimes the game knows it's time long before the player knows, and blaming the coach for that harsh reality is an unfortunate byproduct of accepting that reality or, more to the point, of being unable to accept that reality.