Tuesday, February 9, 2016

MacDonald arrives, practices on power play

Andrew MacDonald will be paired with Luke Schenn in his first game with the Flyers.

MacDonald arrives, practices on power play

New Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It was a game day. Andrew MacDonald was in Winnipeg. He was doing what hockey players do when the phone rang in his hotel room.

“I was actually napping,” he said.

Islanders general manager Garth Snow was on the phone, telling him he had been traded to the Flyers. Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren followed up with a welcome-to-the-team phone call to the new defenseman. Then it was off to the airport, and a flight to Philadelphia, and on the ice for the pre-game skate on Wednesday morning at the Wells Fargo Center.

“It’s been kind of a whirlwind the last 24 hours,” he said, an understatement for a guy who seems pretty understated. At least he did in his first Philadelphia press availability.

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“Obviously, I’m really excited,” MacDonald said. “I left some good friends behind in New York but, obviously, it’s a a great opportunity here, a great team and a great organization. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Flyers coach Craig Berube said that MacDonald would be paired with Luke Schenn, at least at the outset. At the Wednesday practice, Berube also had MacDonald working on the second power play unit.

“You just try to review it and get familiar with it, the best I can,” MacDonald said. “Try to gain some chemistry really -- do the right things and be in the right places.”

They all talked about how the systems are different, but that hockey players tend to adapt pretty quickly. MacDonald is a shot-blocker and a guy who says, “I just try to be a solid, two-way D-man.”

He played a ton of minutes with the Islanders. He will not play as much here, he says, and he understands why.

“Basically, you do what the team asks you to do,” he said. “In New York, we were thin there for a while because of injuries. Some guys had to play some bigger minutes and I was one of those guys...I understand it’s not going to be the situation as much here. I’ll just do what they want me to do.”

What they want him to do is be a reliable defenseman as they make a push toward the playoffs, and ideally beyond. A free agent after the season, MacDonald says it is still too soon to talk about signing with the Flyers or with anyone beyond this season. As he spoke, he had only been in town for about 12 hours.

“Obviously, (the Flyers are) a really skilled team and a tough team to play against,” he said. “They play physical and they’re good in all facets of the games. It’s exciting to be able to join this team.”

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