The wait is over. The NHL season is finally here, which means the hungry hockey fans of West Chester University will finally get the satisfaction they are looking for.
The Philadelphia Flyers look to rebound from last season after missing the playoffs, something they have only done 10 times since their 1967 debut season.
General Manager Ron Hextall made sure that the long summer off-season was not a quiet one.
Before last season’s trade deadline, Hextall traded long time Flyer and veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen to the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.
He also traded another veteran defenseman in Braydon Coburn to their first opponent and current Eastern Conference champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Defenseman Nicklas Grossmann was dealt to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Sam Gagner, who will be looking to rewind the clock and turn his career around.
In addition to the Gagner trade, the Coyotes also received the contract of former Flyers captain Chris Pronger, who already announced that he will no longer be playing hockey due to his lingering concussion issues.
While only getting hard hitting defenseman Radko Gudas in return, the Flyers also received some draft picks. Hextall put them to good use by drafting Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny in the first round.
Provorov and Konecny are two promising prospects that add on to the large list of young stars in the Flyers organization.
Though Hextall had a busy draft day, his work was not done.
The new-look Flyers did not only change some players. They have a new face as head coach.
After a poor season last year, Hextall relieved Craig Berube of his coaching duties. Soon after, a man by the name of Dave Hakstol was announced to be the next coach in Philadelphia.
This raised some eyebrows in Philadelphia. There were plenty of NHL proven coaches on the market. Instead of going with the favorite, Mike Babcock, Hextall put his faith in Hakstol.
Hextall may have found a diamond in the rough.
Prior to coaching in Philadelphia, Hakstol has experienced great success on the collegiate level. He was the head coach of the University of North Dakota, leading that team to seven NCAA Frozen Four finals in his 11 year tenure with the team.
The General Manager signed free agent goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who will serve as Steve Mason’s backup this season.
The most eye-popping signing of the offseason for Flyers fan is the signing of 33-year old defenseman Yevgeni Medvedev, who was a 4-time KHL all-star before finally joining the NHL.
After four years of hard work and dedication to the game, forward Scott Laughton looks to turn some heads as he finally found earned his spot on the Flyers roster.
On the other hand, defenseman Andrew MacDonald has been sent to the AHL and will not play for the Flyers on opening night, making him arguably one of the highest paid minor league players the AHL has ever seen.
When asked how many games the team will win this year, Comcast Sportsnet analyst and long-time Flyers beat writer Tim Pannacio was not shy about his feelings toward the team.
“35 wins at most”, he says.
Though the new-look Flyers are predicted to miss the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second straight year, captain Claude Giroux and star Jakub Voracek look to silence the critics and prove everyone wrong.
“There’s no reason not to make the playoffs”, says Voracek.
The healthy scratches for the season opener consisted of newly acquired players Radko Gudas and Sam Gagner while the only returning healthy scratch is former Lightning Captain Vincent Lecavalier.
The Flyers managed to get one point in their season opener Wednesday night despite having two penalty shots against the former Eastern Conference Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The loss reflected a solid effort by the team, and a positive outlook for the season to come.
The Flyers announced this season that they will honor some of the Flyer greats at upcoming home games this year. These players include Simon Gagne, Kimmo Timonen, Danny Briere and Rod Brind’Amour.
As they reflect on the loss despite the solid effort, the Flyers look ahead to a home and home series against former Flyer Jaromir Jagr and the Florida Panthers. Buckle your seatbelts, Flyers fans. It is going to be a wild ride.
Thomas Henry is a third-year student majoring in English. He can be reached at TH835666@wcupa.edu.