The year Paul Holmgren took over was the worst in Flyers history. Five seasons later, they are back to being one of the elite teams in the NHL.
As a result, Holmgren has been awarded a 3-year contract extension, the team announced Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m particularly proud of the job Paul Holmgren has done with our hockey club and excited to offer him this three-year extension,” said Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider. “He continuously finds the right opportunities to improve our team and get us closer to our ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”
“Paul has done and continues to do a fabulous job in putting together a very competitive team on the ice for us,” said Comcast-Spectacor president Peter Luukko. “We felt based on many of Paul’s recent successes, including last season’s run through the Final and the tenacity of our team this season, that this was the right time to offer him a contract extension. This sends a message to our fans, players and coaches that we are committed to winning and our organization will be stable for years to come."
"I am extremely grateful to Mr. Snider and to Peter Luukko for this contract extension,” said Holmgren. “I look forward to working closely with them, the coaches and our players in pursuit of our goal of winning the Stanley Cup."
Danny Briere was the first prized free agent Holmgren inked following that dismal 2006-07 season.
“When I signed here, this team was in last place,” Briere said. “It’s a fairly quick turnaround. He’s done a tremendous job. Even in the way he’s setting up this team for this year, the job he’s done since I’ve been here has been amazing.”
The Flyers have followed up their Stanley Cup finalist run from last spring by leading the Eastern Conference in points here at about the midway point of the season; and this with almost no contribution from injured projected starting goaltender Michael Leighton. Also, top defenseman Chris Pronger has missed about a third of the season with a foot injury.
While not all of his moves have panned out (i.e. Ray Emery), a number of the current key Flyers have been added under Holmgren’s watch, including Briere, Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Ville Leino and Scott Hartnell.
Holmgren also was deeply involved in the drafts that brought the Flyers a group that includes Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Oskars Bartulis, Andreas Nodl, James van Riemsdyk, and Claude Giroux. He was the Flyers assistant GM to Bob Clarke before being promoted.
Peter Laviolette will go with Sergei Bobrovsky in net tonight against visiting Washington.
Bobrovsky and fellow goaltender Brian Boucher have alternated starts each of the last six games as the Flyers have gone 5-1. Bobrovsky played reasonably well in a Nov. 7 loss at Washington. He faced 39 shots and gave up three goals, including an overtime game-winner to Mike Green. Boucher started for the Flyers when they beat Washington on Nov. 20.
Bobrovsky is 17-6-3 with a 2.53 goals against average.
Some other Flyers notes:
* Chris Pronger participated in the morning skate, another positive sign that his return is imminent. Pronger has been out since breaking a bone in his foot on Dec. 15 and is scheduled to see a doctor Wednesday. He will not play in Tuesday night’s game
* Danny Briere declined to comment on the $1,000 fine he received after taking a swing from the bench at Rangers forward Brandon Prust toward the end of Sunday night’s game
* A group of Jody Shelley’s relatives are in town for Tuesday night’s game. They aren’t hard to spot. Just look for about a dozen people wearing “Shelley” and the No. 45 jerseys. The 11 members of the traveling party include Ned Shelley, Jody’s dad, who said his oldest son got his toughness from mom.
* After tonight, the Flyers next host Ottawa on Thursday and New Jersey on Saturday before traveling to Chicago for Sunday’s Stanley Cup Finals rematch against the Blackhawks. NBC will televise the game, which starts at 12:30 Eastern (11:30 a.m. Central). Thanks to gkspacer, among others, for pointing out an earlier fumbled post.
Rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net tonight when the Flyers play host to the Washington Capitals.
It will be Russian vs. Russian, as Bobrovsky will face Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.
Bobrovsky is 17-6-3 with a 2.53 goals-against average. He last played in Friday's 5-2 win over Atlanta.
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