If you’re not quite sure just who Blair Betts is then you should take a second look at the Ranger’s penalty kill over the last couple of seasons. He’s not necessarily skilled offensively, but he comes with plenty of other things. His effort and heart were never questioned in New York with the Rangers, and, should the Flyers hand him a contract, they won’t be questioned in Philadelphia either. On top of that he is dirt cheap and is one of the better penalty killers in the Atlantic Division. He is solid on faceoffs which is something the Flyers desperately need, and he fits right in nicely at that fourth line center position.
Also, if you aren’t aware already, there are quite a few pissed off Ranger’s fans right now; not only because Betts is attending Flyers camp but also because their General Manager, Glen Sather, failed to get him under contract. That should tell you how important Betts is to a team even with his limited offensive capabilities.
Following is from my article about Blair Betts and Mark Bell being invited to training camp:
Now added to a group including prospects James van Riemsdyk, Patrick Maroon, Darroll Powe, Andreas Nodl, Jared Ross, and Jonathan Matsumoto as well as signed forwards Arron Asham, Ian Laperriere, Dan Carcillo, Mika Pyorala, Krys Kolanos, Lukas Kaspar, and Riley Cote, both Bell and Betts will be competing for playing time. Unlike the other forwards penciled in to be joining the Flyers for training camp starting on September 12th the pair have another hurdle to contend with; neither currently have a contract.
Thanks to a technicality involving prospect Zac Rinaldo‘s contract and the departure of another prospect, Patrik Hersley, to Sweden before the actual end of his contract, the Flyers have two spots remaining under the allotted 50 contract limit. Though there are other invitees to camp, these two players both have considerable NHL experience and are the expected recipients of an offer from the orange and black. One thing to consider as they compete for a contracts is that both bring considerably different skill sets.
After being drafted 8th overall by the Blackhawks in 1998, Bell made his NHL debut during the 2000-01 season. By 2003-04 he was a 20-goal scorer, and by 2005-06 he finished second in scoring with Chicago. It all went downhill from there though. During the summer he was traded to San Jose and on Labor Day weekend found himself in a serious car accident in which he rammed a truck that was stopped at a stop sign. Bell was charged with driving under the influence as well as a hit and run. Since the incident he has spent time with three different organizations over the course of three seasons. He has also never managed to score more than 12 goals in a season during his slide. He is still a sizable power-forward and should he ‘wow’ the Flyers’ staff at camp, he could find himself as a depth forward in a scoring role.
Betts, on the other hand, was taken in the 2nd round during the same draft as Bell but never had the offensive potential needed to keep up with the former top 10 selection. Currently, even with all of his issues, Bell is the superior offensive forward. Betts brings something entirely different to the table though. While he has struggled offensively for his entire NHL career he broke out on the New York Rangers in the last couple seasons as one of the better penalty killers in the Atlantic Division. If given a contract with the Flyers he adds a great forward to let some of the organization’s best two-way offensive threats get a breather instead of wasting energy killing penalties. While giving players like Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, and Jeff Carter less time on the kill would drop the Flyers’ outstanding shorthanded goal ratio, it would provide better play during 5-on-5 situations. While Betts is not necessarily the best option for a third line center on the Flyers with Giroux able to play the position more than effectively at both ends of the ice, he will make a sturdy fourth line center who can get called in for key faceoffs. For those praying that the organization sign a center with a faceoff skill set, this could be the answer.
Along with other training camp invitees Logan Stephenson, Brennan Yadlowski, Mike Thomas, Tomas Sinisalo, and Tyler Hostetter, both Betts and Blair will get run through the paces with every player on the Flyers’ roster.
That’s all there is to it for now. Bell and Betts will both have to perform to win spots on the Flyers. There are no freebies. Still, with so much competition to make the roster you can’t help but feel that this is going to be a good year. We’re not talking about scrubs here either. Each player competing for playing time at camp this season has something unique and positive to bring to the table.
Well Gagne is skating again at the very least. He had not skated since his injury (article) but received a special treatment. I don’t know much about biomedical stuff, but I’ll at least give you some quotes about his treatment from Timmy P. himself (article).
As for Gagne, the Flyers are saying the injury isn’t a big deal. Except that, in addition to rest, Gagne was given an injection of PRP – Platelet Rich Plasma – which most certainly is not the usual course of treatment for a simple groin pull.
Gagne has had three offseason surgeries in four years in his groin and hip area. His performance will be something that will bear watching when the Flyers’ full training camp opens Sept. 12.
While Panaccio seems to enjoy remaining cautious about Gagne’s hip/groin region there is some good news in all of this. Gagne’s solo skate went very well. Here’s some quotes from the man himself about how his experience went:
“I was a little bit nervous when I went out there today, but I’m very happy with the way things went,” he told a group of reporters immediately after stepping off of the ice.
Several Flyers have been skating informally in the mornings getting ready for training camp, and Gagne would like to join them as soon as he is ready.
“The first step was to skate by myself and see how it goes, and from there we’re going to decide what’s going to be the best for me. I don’t know if tomorrow I’m going to skate with the guys, or if it would be smarter if I do another skate by myself and then Thursday jump into it with the guys and scrimmage or practice.”
He would certainly like to be ready for the first official on-ice day of training camp on September 13.
“I hope so. That’s why I’m here trying to skate and we’re going to go step-by-step,” he said. “I hope to be there for Day 1 but at the same time we’re going to be smart about it.”
WINTER CLASSIC JERSEY
No, I don’t know what it looks like yet. There haven’t been any leaks, but they’re certainly going to announce it in style. The rumor going around right now is that on Friday at 2 p.m. there is going to be a big chunk of ice in Voorhees, NJ at the Flyers’ practice facility. Obviously you cannot see through this ice to see the jersey because various players from the team are going to shoot pucks at the gigantic block to chip off chunks of ice until the jersey is uncovered. It should prove to be a fun little experience. I will be there, hopefully with camera in hand.
EDIT: Current rumored jersey floating around:
Not lying, this is what I expected. The crest seems a little big so this is probably a prelim jersey. Honestly the retro whites from the 70′s is what I expected all along. We will find out Friday of course.
PRE-CAMP SCHEDULE IN VOORHEES
- Friday, September 11th @ 2:00 p.m. – Flyers will unveil Winter Classic Jersey
- Friday, September 11th @ 3:00 p.m. – Flyers rookie camp scrimmage against Capitals rookies
- Friday, September 11th @ 6:00 p.m. – Autograph session with all Flyers rookies
- Friday, September 11th @ 6:15 p.m. – Flyers Face Off for Fitness open to the public in the parking lot
- Saturday, September 12th @ 10:00 a.m. – Individual game tickets go on sale
- Saturday, September 12th @ 1:00 p.m. – Auditions for Flyers Ice Team
- Saturday, September 12th @ some time – Conditioning tests for Flyers camp closed to public
- Sunday, September 13th @ 9:00 a.m. – Flyers Training Camp officially opens to public