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Couturier, Read soaking in All-Star experience

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OTTAWA – The word ‘shy’ might best describe Flyers rookie Sean Couturier.


The word ‘versatile’ might best describe fellow rookie teammate, Matt Read.


Both of these young players will participate in the SuperSkills competition on Saturday at the All-Star Game for Team Alfredsson.


Neither has the vaguest idea of what they’ll be doing or what they would prefer to do. They’re both a tad nervous.


Yet as bashful as Couturier comes off, the 19-year-old is pretty outspoken on who he would like to meet here this weekend.


“Evgeni Malkin,” Couturier said.


Malkin comes into All-Star weekend as the league’s leading scorer with 58 points. Couturier is ranked in five rookie categories, and is ninth in rookie scoring with 19 points and second in plus/minus at plus-13.


“I really liked Evgeni Malkin when I was growing up,” said the American-born Couturier, who plays internationally for Canada.


“I kind of thought of myself in minor hockey that I was a little like him. Putting up points, a flashy guy. We have kind of the same size, too. I kind of grew up thinking of him as a favorite player. It would be fun to meet him.”


Question is, how will Couturier meet Malkin? He admits he’s too timid to go right up to the Russian superstar and shake his hand.


“I’d probably get someone around him to introduce me to him,” Couturier said. “Maybe Kimmo [Timonen].”


Timonen is playing for Team Chara.


Now, Matt Read is 25. This, too, is just his first year in the NHL, yet he’s less shy than Couturier.


That might have something to do with his personality and the fact that, as a kid, he was what you call a “military brat” – moving around and living in different places because his dad was in the Canadian Army.


He hopped all over Canada and the U.S. from as far west as British Columbia to as far east as Ontario. He says it helped him “grow up” sooner.


So Read, who played college hockey at Bemidji State, has no inhibitions when it comes to meeting someone he wants to meet.


He went to high school in Ilderton, Ont., which is near Detroit. He followed the Red Wings. One in particular.


“There’s a lot them I’d like to me but just like Claude [Giroux] said, it’d be [Pavel] Datsyuk,” Read said.

“I grew up watching him and you get a lot of Detroit games where I was. He was special. He was a great overall player.”


It might be easier to mingle with Datsyuk if he were in the same dressing room, but he’s not. He’s on Team Chara.


Datsyuk is fourth in the league with 53 points. Read is among the leading Calder Trophy candidates with 31 points (third among rookies). He’s first in goals (15) and fourth in plus/minus (pus-12).


“I’m pretty excited, but I am also nervous to be around all these top players in the NHL,” Read said. “I’ll just be the young guy there trying to take it all in.


“It’s going to be a great experience just to know the guys a little bit off the ice. It should be fun.”


Couturier, who admitted he tried to envision what it would be like sitting in the same dressing room as some of these players.


“It’s funny because I’m kind of young and just a couple of year ago, I was watching them all play in an All-Star Game,” he said.


“They’re all pretty special players and they’re guys I admired growing up. Now, I’m going to be in that same locker room and it’s different. It’s going to be impressive but you can’t be intimidated, right?”


Probably not, but it would be normal if such a thing did happen.


Both of these guy wonder about the skill competition and what they’ll be doing.


They have so many new skill competitions, Read suggested, he don’t know what he would be good at. Target shooting intrigues him.


“I did that in junior,” Read said. “I had five shots and hit four targets. I hit the post. Then I hit the next one. That might be the easiest thing for me, who knows?”


Couturier, who lit up the QMJHL at Drummondville, gets a worried look on his face when you mention target shooting.


“The last time I did that was at the NHL Prospects thing,” Couturier said. “I went 0 for 8. So, it would be embarrassing to get another 0 for 8. Anything they give me I will try my best.”


During training camp, TSN’s Bob McKenzie predicted that Read would win the Calder. At the time, Read completely dismissed the compliment as pure fantasy.


Yet he’s a worthy choice to consider at the All-Star break along with Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, among others. Still think it’s a fantasy?


“It’s still surreal,” Read replied. “When Bob McKenzie said that in pre-season, I thought, ‘come on.’ I am just focusing on upcoming games and not worried about that stuff. Those kind of distractions can cost you.


“You’ll be a second late [on a play], or something like that. I’m not worried about any of that stuff right now. It’s great to get the honor and be among the top five rookie scorers. But it’s the same thing every day. Show up to play and do what is best for this team to help us win.”


Which is something both he and Couturier have been doing with the Flyers all season.


People notice. It’s why they were chosen for the All-Star weekend.


“It should be a fun time with the best in the league, best in the world,” Couturier said.


Read pointed to Couturier in the far end of the dressing room.


“I’ve got to give credit to Coots,” he said. “When I was 19, or even 20, there’s no way I could play with half the brains and talent that he has.”


They both have what it takes.


That’s why they’re here.

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Read was an excellent signing. Several teams were after him and Holmgren must have done a heck of a job selling the Flyers who are so deep at forward to a guy who likely thought he had a chance of making the NHL now.

Couturier fell into his lap. This wasn't a reach, this was a guy who should have been picked by the previous 4 teams.

edit: How does a guy with his talent, and this personality, fall to 8th?


As part of All-Access All Things All-Star coverage on NHL.com this weekend in Ottawa, Philadelphia Flyers rookie Sean Couturier will be blogging his thoughts and experiences. Here are some of his thoughts on Friday’s activities:

OTTAWA -- As I wrote yesterday in my blog, I thought Friday was going to be the down day of All-Star Weekend -- but as it turns out, it was a pretty eventful one.

My teammate Matt Read and I went to the children’s hospital pretty early this morning at 9 a.m., along with Ottawa Senators rookie Colin Greening to visit some sick kids. It was just great to see how excited the kids were to see some NHL players visiting them. But to be honest, I think we did as much good to the kids as they did for us. When you can make a sick kid smile, it’s truly priceless. Getting a chance to see the kids so happy and forgetting their problems for just a few minutes honestly made my day.

Of course, the kids had another good reason to be so happy because the hospital was unveiling a new games room where they’ll be able to play Xbox, watch TV, go on the Internet or talk to their parents via webcam. It was pretty impressive.

Some of the kids were playing NHL 12, and some of them were pretty good! I would have liked to sit down with them and play a bit, like I do with Danny Briere’s sons, but our schedule was a bit too tight to fit in a game.

After we were done at the hospital the rookies hung out a bit, giving us a chance to get to know each other better. We’re all having a fun time.

I also got a chance to get away and have lunch with my parents and my girlfriend for a couple of hours, something I don’t often get a chance to do during the season. After that I relaxed in my hotel room for a bit before heading over to Media Day.

That’s where I found out I’ve been picked to take part in the Breakaway Challenge, which is both a good and bad thing. I’ve never done anything where I had to do trick shots before, and with so many people watching this event I’m really going to have to get creative and come up with three great moves that people will want to watch. I can’t just do the same one three times!

I never told anyone I wanted to be in this event, and no one asked me, but now that I’m there I’m going to have to do the job. But it’s not going to be easy. To be honest, I’m feeling a bit of pressure.

Still, I won’t let that ruin my Friday night where all the Flyers who are here are going out for dinner with our families. It should be a fun night. We might talk hockey a bit, but I don’t think I’ll have time to come up with my trick moves for Saturday night.

Whatever I come up with, I hope you’re all watching!

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Several teams were after him and Holmgren must have done a heck of a job selling the Flyers who are so deep at forward to a guy who likely thought he had a chance of making the NHL now.

Enough to give him a one-way contract. I wonder how many other teams turned down his request for a one-way. Minny did apparently. Love his game.

$10 says Cooter scores on his breakaway.

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