Flyers Day 2 Phase 3 Update: ‘For Now, This is Our Family’
As the conditioning continues for the Flyers, Day 2 practices were a little shorter than Day 1. Alain Vigneault cut things down from 55 minutes to about 42 minutes with much more intensity into drills.
This is how the Flyers are going to slowly but surely ramp up activity as they plan their return. Tuesday’s practices featured the same groups and same line combinations as Day 1. Wednesday will likely feature the same. Then the Flyers get an off day from on-ice activity on Thursday before starting to combine the groups on Friday and Saturday, with Saturday’s practice featuring a couple of scrimmages.
“These first three days they’re going to stay exactly the same. What I wanted was three lines in each group and six D in each group. I would say to you that come past Thursday or Friday, there will be some changes -- two groups, but one with four lines and the other with two and then both groups are going to meet so we get to the bulk of our practice where we have a 1-3 ratio...basically six groups of five players,” Vigneault said. “We did this planning for the first three days so our guys would get more reps. We talked about the intensity that would be needed. Yesterday we went around 55 minutes, today we went about 42 minutes but at a higher pace. So we sort of laid out what we want to do. They’re getting more touches, smaller groups, smaller numbers, and then we’re going to phase in to the other aspects of what we need to get into starting Friday. Long answer, but don’t read too much into the lines or the D-pairs.”
So while some of those lines had a lot of resemblance to what was on the ice before the pause, it’s not even close to set in stone.
Something that has been determined is the lifestyle that the players will have now that they are back in Phase 3. Should everything get to Phase 4, this is how things will be for the foreseeable future and for some of the veteran players, there will be a lot of separation from their families. While the NHL is hoping to allow families to join the players once the playoffs reach the conference finals, for many teams, they will be away for a long period of time and only be reunited with their families once their season is over.
“Obviously being away from the people that are close to you is a challenge, but that being said, for the period of time, it could be a month, it could be three months if we make it to the end, this will be a time that people are going to remember for the rest of their lives,” Vigneault said. “I don’t feel that anyone in our situation right now has any right to complain about anything, really. Obviously we’re going to miss the people who are close to us, but we’re getting an opportunity here to compete for the Stanley Cup. We’ve got the best facilities and the best people taking care of us, and if you look at what’s going on in the world right now where people are losing their jobs, losing their businesses, going from paycheck to paycheck, we’re one of the lucky ones. We’re playing a sport we all love. You don’t get a chance to compete for the Cup every year, and we do have that opportunity. You’ve got to stay safe during this phase here in Philly to get to the bubble. I don’t expect to hear really a lot of complaining. Obviously it’s a little bit challenging being away from the ones that we love. But we are one of the fortunate groups in today’s society where we get to work and to do what we like as far as work.”
“Being away from family is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, you know say goodbye,” Brian Elliott said. “I was just on a FaceTime call and the first question you get asked is, ‘are you coming home dad.’ They just don’t understand it. That’s been really hard for me personally. That’s kind of the sacrifices you’ve got to make right now to be part of something special. Looking forward to it. We know it’s not going to last forever, so you’ve got to battle through a little bit. You have to appreciate what your family’s doing at home and what sacrifices they’re making. I don’t think that gets brought up in the media as well. If I can say it publicly, thank you to my wife for sure for taking care of the little ones while we’re gone.”
It is certainly a sacrifice on both ends. The families are allowing these players to take an extended period of time to chase a dream and the players are leaving behind family as well. What remains is the common goal of trying to win the Stanley Cup. Many of these players have spent their entire lives waiting for this opportunity.
One such player is Carter Hart, who gets his first playoff experience. While this isn’t the way anybody envisioned a playoff run, it’s the opportunity the 21-year-old netminder has been waiting for and is ready to chase.
“Whenever I play I am always nervous before games. That’s just because I care,” Hart said. “That’s not at the point where I let it affect me or affect my game. I am sure there will be nerves that come when that first playoff game comes about here. That’s just part of the game of hockey. As a younger player, that’s just part of the steps in your career that you have to take. I think it’s one step that I have been waiting for my whole life. It’s going to be very exciting. Our group here is ready to get things going.”
While Hart is one of the youngest members of the roster, he did provide some good perspective on what bubble life will be like, especially for players that are leaving behind family members. We hear a lot that professional sports teams are like families, but that will take on a new meaning when the Flyers reach the Phase 4 bubble.
“We have a good quality group here. We love to have fun. Sometimes we have a little bit too much fun. At the same time, we’ve got guys here that know when to focus and when to have fun,” Hart said. “It’ll be a different situation where we will be on the road for hopefully the full two months. I’m sure there will be a lot of card games involved at the hotel. It’ll be good. It’ll be tough for some guys being away from their families and friends, so that’s going to be an adjustment. For now, this is our family. This is our hockey family we have. That’s the way we have to look at it.”
Flyers to Open with Exhibition Against Penguins
Another piece of news from Tuesday was the date and times for the Flyers exhibition game once they arrive at the hub city ahead of Phase 4 and the time of their first Round Robin game. The Flyers will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first exhibition game for any of the 24 teams on Tuesday, July 28, at 4 p.m.
The Flyers first Round Robin game against Boston on Sunday, Aug. 2 will be at 3 p.m.
While this is still a little while away, it certainly brings some excitement of what is to come. To have hockey firmly on the schedule is definitely exciting, and to open up any of the action with the Battle of Pennsylvania -- even if it is from Toronto and doesn’t count toward the standings, a playoff series or reseeding -- is a great way to get warmed up for what is to come.