With a standing-room-crowd watching, the Flyers opened training camp Saturday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees.
Here were the top lines today:
Danny Briere centering Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek.
Claude Giroux centering JVR and Jaromir Jagr.
Michael Nylander centering Max Talbot and Wayne Simmonds.
Blair Betts centering Jody Shelley and Andreas Nodl.
Coach Peter Laviolette said fans should not read much into the lines and that they will be altered repeatedly during camp. He added it’s not a lock that Briere and Hartnell will remain together.
A year ago, Briere, Hartnell and Ville Leino formed the Flyers’ top unit.
Hotshot center Brayden Schenn was rotated in and out of the lines.
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Jagr talked to the media for about a half hour, and was sensitive _ he was teary-eyed as he talked about the friends he lost in last week's Russian plane crash _ and funny. He said he will not grow his hair long like he wore in his early days. "Scott Hartnell would be jealous," he said with a smile.
GM Paul Holmgren said he was expecting big things from the 39-year-old Jagr, saying he was in great condition and probably has the hardest shot on the team.
Holmgren said he thought Jagr could score between 45 and 65 points.
At Saturday’s practice, Jagr skated on a line with Giroux (23 years old) and van Riemsdyk (22). The latter two players’ combined age (45) is just six years younger than Jagr's.
"When I was a kid I looked up to him as obviously one of the best young players to ever play, so anytime you have a guy like that on your line it's pretty exciting,” Giroux said.
Voracek, another new Flyer, also idolized Jagr. He grew up in the same town as Jagr _ Kladno, in the Czech Republic.
The Jagr-worship aside, the 6-foot-2, 240-pound right winger should bolster a power play that was just 19th in the 30-team NHL with a 16.6 percent success rate last season. He will bring his wily experience to whichever line he ends up with.
In turn, “the enthusiasm that goes through young guys for the game will rub off on Jaromir a little bit, too,” Holmgren said. “When we talked in the summer about coming here, that was one of the things we tried to push that we had a lot of young forwards and maybe there will be a little give and take…..Hopefully one hand washes the other.”
Breakaways. Sixty-six players are in camp fighting for 23 jobs…..Holmgren was impressed with defenseman Matt Walker, who is much slimmer (and healthier) than last year. Walker is among the players battling for the sixth defensive spot. “I thought he looked outstanding today,” Holmgren said. “He spent his own money and went to Vancouver and hired a trainer and worked one on one. He looks lean.”……When he was a youngster, Simmonds said he loved watching the Flyers on TV because Eric Lindros was one of his favorite players.
(more to come)
Below is video of Jaromir Jagr's press conference. To watch video of Claude Giroux from today's practice, click here.