Steve Downie played for Craig Berube for just a little more than a full season – some eight or nine years ago – but left enough of an impression in that short time.
Downie, 26, was back in a Flyers uniform on Friday for a quick morning skate for the first time since being re-acquired from the Avalanche for Max Talbot. He will make his debut tonight against Washington.
“I enjoyed coaching him,” Berube said. “I think every team wants a guy like Steve Downie. He’s a fiery guy with skill. He’s got real good hands, he’s a good passer. He’s a guy with some fire in his belly.”
Berube did say, though, that he had nothing to do with the trade and did not push Paul Holmgren to specifically acquire Downie.
“That’s not my department,” Berube said.
Downie has just one goal this season in 11 games, but he would be tied for the Flyers’ team lead in scoring with Vinny Lecavalier with 7 points. Lecavalier was Downie’s linemate for a period of time in Tampa Bay in 2008-09.
“He can do everything. He can score, pass. His work ethic, he’s hard to play against,” Lecavalier said. “He’s a guy we’re definitely going to love. He protects that puck and makes some really nice plays.”
Scott Hartnell is one of the few players remaining from Downie’s first stint with the Flyers – which lasted 38 games – and he welcomes a player of Downie’s ilk with open arms.
“First and foremost he brings some energy, some sandpaper to our lineup,” Hartnell said. “He skates well, he’s got good puck skills, he goes to the dirty areas to score goals, something we need a little more of.”
Hartnell was sad to see Talbot go.
“A great guy, he was great in our locker room. He was always positive,” Hartnell said. “He knows what to do to get it done. You hate to see a good friend like him go, but I’m sure he’ll fit in well.”
In some ways, the Flyers’ players said they were a bit surprised by the trade. Then again, the team is 3-8 and has already dispatched their head coach.
“I think any time you struggle, there’s going to be some sort of changes,” Hartnell said. “We were playing better and better. Our downfall is not playing a full 60 minutes. That’s not something you can do in this league. Hopefully ‘Downs’ comes in and we play with that full energy for 60 minutes.”
Downie said he had a smile on his face walking back into the Wells Fargo Center, the place where he said the NHL became “a reality for him.” Perhaps the familiar surroundings will help get both the Flyers and Downie back on track.
“Some of the guys know him and have played with him,” Berube said. “They know what he’s all about. He’s going to bring some jump to our team.”
LINEUP NOTE: Berube said Adam Hall will take over the bulk of the penalty killing opportunities with Talbot gone. He will replace Jay Rosehill in the lineup tonight after sitting out two straight games as a healthy scratch.
CAPS’ PP CHANGES: Alex Ovechkin has accounted for 31 percent of Washington’s goals (10 of 32), but the Capitals will be without him tonight. He also has 4 of Washington’s 10 power play goals, though their once hot unit has cooled off a bit recently. They went 1-for-15 on their recent road swing.
Ovechkin also has 22 of the team’s 62 power play shots on goal (35 percent). Instead of Ovechkin, Eric Fehr will line up in the left circle on the team’s power play tonight – a decidedly less fehr-some matchup.
“I don’t think they’ll be covering me quite as closely as they cover Ovi,” Fehr told the Washington Post on Thursday. “Ovi does his thing out there and I haven’t had the opportunity. He makes it look pretty easy. He’s been doing that for many years. I’m not going to be shooting it like him, I’ll have my own spin on that position and hopefully it works out.”
SPECIAL GUEST: Reigning American League MVP and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera was spotted inside the Flyers’ locker room on Friday morning. He posed for photos with Flyers players, who were happy to have the Tigers’ slugger. Cabrera, 30, was operated on this week by noted sports hernia specialist Dr. William Meyers at Hahnemann University Hospital.
(By the way: Cabrera was wearing Philadelphia Eagles apparel. He requested five tickets for tonight’s game against the Capitals.)
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers