Had a great time this morning with my radio buddies Preston & Steve on 933WMMR in
studio talking about the Flyers, ALS Walk, Flyers 5K and more!
Read the original article on Philly.com.
Well, the season is over. And boy, is it disappointing. But there’s also something to be excited about. As a fan, I’m optimistic because I know we have a core of good, young players – including two great goalies – that will continue to develop going into next season.
Mason is one of the top five goalies in the league. He had a heck of a season, and his performance in the playoff series against the Rangers solidified that.
When Emery was called on, there was nothing more we could have asked of him than to play well, and he did. In the words of the great Fred Shero, “You may only play five minutes, but those five minutes could win or lose the game.”
With Emery, if he only plays 15 or 20 games, it’s the same level of importance as if Mason plays 60 games. These two goalies complement each other very well.
What do I like most about Mason? His passion. I could see it in his face last night after the game. He wasn’t grinning on his way off the ice; or thinking, “We’ll get ‘em next year;” or ready to pick up his golf clubs and set tee time for 8 a.m. on Friday. I could feel the pain in his face. You can’t buy that passion.
That passionate goaltender is who you want on your team going forward. And that pain? It’s important in his development as a young goalie to have that pain right now. It will inspire him to come back bigger, better and stronger next year. He may be walking away with this loss, but it’s something he needs to experience in a clutch situation in order to move on to the next level.
Do we need adjustments as far as the entire team is concerned? Of course. You can never stand still and make it to your destination.
Losing is a learning phase, and our fan base isn’t going anywhere. They’re the greatest fans in the world, and as angry as they may get, they’ll be back next year. Believe me. Our fans will support us until their very last breaths.
The Flyers should be focused on winning, starting with game one and all throughout the rest of the season, so they can be sure to secure home ice advantage and have the honor of playing in front our electric fan base.
You could finish first or finish second. If you finish first, you get home ice advantage. If you finish second, as the Flyers saw, you lose home ice. When you have two strong teams, those who have home ice advantage are more likely to prevail today.
Walking away from this series, a first round exit, and the fans are all talking about Mason. He showed up, he proved a lot, he handled himself well, especially coming back from an injury, and made some absolutely phenomenal saves. Some saves only a seasoned goalie could make. Even with this loss, we have no hard feelings toward the goaltender, at all.
Paul Holmgren has been catching some heat, but let’s give praise where it’s due. Holmgren brought us our staring goaltender. We haven’t had a goaltender like this in a very long time, since Ron Hextall even.
I want to also give a shout out to Craig Berube, Ian Laperriere, John Paddock and Jeff Reese. You guys have done a heck of a job.
Let’s talk about something here. The Flyers started the season off pretty slow and Berube didn’t come in until later. I can’t stress enough how important it is for a coach to be with their team and set the tone during training camp. Berube had a whole year with the team, but he didn’t have a training camp.
The adjustment has been made, and the players respect him and play for him now. I like that his criticism is done behind closed doors. The guys play very well under Berube. He manages the locker room well and each player believes in himself.
If I was playing today, and our season was over, I’d spend some time reflecting back to what I could have done better to win that game. Spend some time on it. “What did you do right? What mistakes were made? How can I improve my game?”
The imagination is a heck of a tool, and envisioning your mistakes and correcting them can do a lot for an athlete. Then, you move on. And although you have a couple months off, you have to be ready for the next season.
You can try to detach yourself from this game, but you can’t. Honestly, after losing, I lost all interest in the playoffs. I didn’t care to watch. You just move on. Your journey for the Stanley Cup has come to an end, and you’re almost mourning. You have your grieving period, you enjoy some time off, and you start all over again.
All of this is part of the journey toward a championship. And out of the Philadelphia Eagles, 76ers, Phillies and Flyers, the Flyers are in the best position to bring a championship to Philadelphia. Mark my words.
Read the original article on Philly.com.
It is imperative that you approach the game psychologically, keeping in mind all of the accomplishments, the learning experiences, and the mistakes you’ve made throughout the season. You have to reprogram all of these things into your mind, making the playoffs your only focus.
Sadly, your family, your friends and the rest of the world do not exist. All that exists is you and your teammates. Taking this approach going into playoff hockey will definitely help you achieve success. Looking back at our championship seasons, that is how we lived. We would eat, sleep, and breathe hockey; nothing else. We focused only on the ultimate goal 24/7, and the entire team had to be on that same level or it never would have worked.
During the season, you have to allow yourself to get a little distracted. It eases the pressure of playing 80 games. But during the playoffs, every game is crucial. You only have 4 games to win … or 4 games to lose. Make them count. You can’t let your opponent gain momentum. There is no room or time for slacking and distraction.
When we played against Boston in 1974, Boston should have won in 4 games. That’s just how good they were. But they weren’t focused like us, and we built up our confidence, gained momentum, and ultimately beat them.
Thursday night’s game boasts two good teams, the Flyers and the Rangers. And I think the competition is fair.
The media makes a big deal about the Flyers not winning in New York, but guess what? Before we won the first Cup, we never won in Boston. The attitude that you’re going to take is crucial. Anything can happen, and we have a good core of strong players that never quit. This team has proven time and time again that quitting is not an option. Everyone thought Giroux was crazy for saying that the Flyers would make it to the playoffs this year, but they have proved the naysayers wrong once again. Bobby Clarke, one of the greatest leaders to ever play the game, helped adopt the “never quit” philosophy. And he’s never left the team.
One of the best things about playoff hockey? The crowd. In Philadelphia, we have the best crowd in the National Hockey League; different than any other city that I’ve ever played in, no doubt. And I’m not just saying that because I had the best years of my career there. We have the best fans, hands down. But it’s different during the playoffs, and they’ve moved a step up from where they were during the regular season. They’re excited, they’re louder. It’s do or die in these 4 games, and the fans feel that. The fans take ownership with what’s transpiring on the ice. They are a part of the game and ready to support you as a player. In turn, the players feed off of the crowd’s energy and elevate their production. It really makes a big difference.
You only have so many years to be successful in professional sports. Make it count. Focus and tenacity on behalf of the entire Flyers organization will bring victory.
Fred Shero Statue Reveal
with Bob Kelly, Rick MacLeish, & Myself
Saturday, March 15th, 2014 at Xfinity Live!
What an honor for our great coach, Fred Shero!
See the original article on Philly.com.
Tomorrow, a statue to immortalize the great coach Fred Shero will be placed outside of Xfinity Live! at 11th and Pattison, not far from where the statue of Bobby Clarke and myself stands.
We’ve had a lot of incredible coaches in Philadelphia sports, but Freddy brought back-to-back championships to this great city. No one has accomplished this feat in the city of Philadelphia. Ever.
To define Fred Shero, do I look at him as the coach? The visionary? The disciplinarian? There are so many great qualities that he has carried with him with his legacy.
Playing under him was an honor. He allowed us to be what made us great individual athletes, yet he was disciplined, repetitious, and systematic. His power was his belief in us fitting into the system, and we had such confidence in him, that we fell in line admirably. He created a symmetry that was unparalleled in the National Hockey League, but most importantly, in the locker room, behind closed doors. He was on to something.
He had a great vision and a great mind for hockey. Fred Shero, the visionary, was ahead of his time (and ahead of other coaches). In practice, at times, he would throw in unorthodox methods and drills to keep us on our toes, like practicing with tennis balls instead of pucks. But his vision really became a reality when we started to notice that it was almost as if he could see the game before it had been played; how our opponents would react to different plays and situations; and he prepared us for that. He studied our opponents hard, and adapted his defensive philosophy to accommodate each playmaker, and offensively fed off of the opponent’s defensive weaknesses.
In the three years that he was my coach, I never heard him raise his voice to a player … ever. It just wasn’t the way he conducted himself. He was a great communicator. He didn’t have to yell to get his message across. And if there was an issue, it would be discussed privately in his office; and we respected that. He made each player feel they were a crucial part of each game, even if they didn’t have much playing time. Each player knew that they could make or break a game at any given moment.
(Fun fact: Most people don’t know that Freddy was the first coach in the league to bring assistant coaches behind the bench and into the game. I bet you didn’t know that.)
Off the ice? There was an unwritten rule that after a game, especially on the road, if you walked into a bar and Freddy was already there, you had to spend your night drinking elsewhere, and he would do the same. I think he needed the separation between his personal and professional life, and we obviously respected his wishes and moved along to another bar down the street. But in all actuality, we would race to get out of the locker room after a game fast enough to reach the closest bar before he could.
We didn’t have a curfew. I don’t even think Freddy knew the meaning of curfew. He knew the Broad Street Bullies were a wild bunch. It takes one to know one.
Whenever Freddy’s name is mentioned, I always remember that he always put everyone else before himself. He helped others. He truly wanted to make others happy. It wasn’t “what can the people do for Freddy?” It was, “What can Freddy do for the people.” He was a very unselfish individual.
And I’ll leave off by telling this final story. The Broad Street Bullies name all started when the Saint Louis Blues kicked our asses the first time we got into the playoffs. That’s when Mr. Snider slammed his fist onto the table and said, “We’ll never be embarrassed like this again.” Keith Allen acquired some fighters, and we became our legacy.
In 1973-1974, after we were labeled the Broad Street Bullies, Freddy came up with this crazy idea that I’ll never forget. I was sitting in the locker room in my stall, facing the hallway. Directly across from where I was sitting, I could see Freddy’s office door. It opened, and out came Freddy with a man trailing behind him. Freddy walked in first, and a shrink walked in after. I guess Freddy thought it would be a good idea to bring him to the practices so the guys could share their thoughts and concerns. I looked them both in the eye, and they stopped walking. They both looked back at me, I looked at the shrink and I said, “You: Get the f*** out of here.” They turned around, Freddy opened the door, and they walked right out. We never saw the shrink again. It just wasn’t the place for him, not with this group of guys.
Freddy’s statue goes up tomorrow, and I’m proud to have witnessed his induction into the Hall of Fame, and now this? This statue will be standing in the heart of Philadelphia as a reminder to all fans back then, all fans now, and all fans to come, that Fred Shero was truly the best coach one of the best human beings this city has and ever will see. He never wanted to be in the spotlight for his accomplishments, but enough is enough. This statue is just another testament to Freddy’s famous line, “We win tonight, we walk together forever.”
It’s a beautiful thing.