Flyers work hard in return to ice
Returning from the
lockout, they want to win the Stanley Cup.
The Morning Call
VOORHEES, N.J. | The Philadelphia Flyers were back
together Tuesday for the first time since their Game-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals 479
The team skated for an hour in front of several hundred fans at their practice facility, then competed in
a split-squad scrimmage that head coach Ken Hitchcock called ''fast-paced.''
''The thing for the players was the tempo
was so high today that you'd be hard-pressed to keep up with this tempo for four straight days, but we'll see,'' Hitchcock
The comment underscores the reality that, for some, Tuesday's practice marked their first hard-core hockey workout
since the owners-imposed lockout that led to the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 NHL season.
Keith Primeau is among
those who hadn't played a minute of organized hockey since the 2-1 loss to the Lightning back on May 22, 2004. That didn't
stop the Flyers' captain from dominating the ice Tuesday, tipping in a goal, while maintaining a constant presence around
the puck, though he admitted he's got to get in better shape.
''From a mental standpoint, I feel as good as I have
in a long time,'' said Primeau, who only in the last few months has shaken the symptoms of a concussion suffered in February
2004. ''Physically, I'd still like to find another step or two on the ice. I feel strong, but I need to get my conditioning
up another gear in order to be productive to where I need to be.''
More pressing for the Flyers is getting their two
biggest free agent signees back on the ice. Neither Peter Forsberg nor Derian Hatcher, signed during the August free agent
frenzy, practiced Tuesday.
Forsberg, who signed a two-year, $11.5-million deal, underwent a 15-minute procedure on
Monday to remove a bursa sac from his right ankle. Rehabilitation will be minimal, according to strength and conditioning
coach Jim McCrossin, and Hitchcock expects him to play at some point during the preseason.
Hatcher's injury appears
more serious. He suffered a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last week while practicing at Team
USA's Olympic camp. The injury didn't require surgery, but it will keep him out of the entire preseason.
Hatcher headline a major overhauling of a team that came within one win of the Stanley Cup Finals. Gone are Jeremy Roenick,
John LeClair, Mark Recchi, Tony Amonte, Marcus Ragnarsson and Alexei Zhamnov, replaced by Mike Rathje, Turner Stevenson, Mike
Knuble and former Phantoms Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, R. J. Umberger and Jon Sim.
Hitchcock plans to play a full roster
in Saturday's preseason game against Atlanta in London, Ontario. By Sunday, he must pare the roster from 52 to 25.