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Flyers GM Paul Holmgren Spoke with the Press Thursday Afternoon

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Michael DeNicola

What an exciting title to the article, eh? Gave me goosebumps just writing it.

Anyways, earlier Thursday afternoon, Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren held a press conference with all the regular media-heads attending. One by one Paul respectfully took questions and answered them in his own Paul Holmgren kinda way, which is to say is not a bad thing in the least. But you knew vague feedback was inevitable like the wafting odor of BRUT Aftershave emanating from the corridors of a Retirement Home.

There were several issues brought up, especially Philadelphia's fresh defeat in our Series against New Jersey.

Holmgren stated clearly that, "We just did not have an answer to their forecheck." Paul went on to give credit to the Devils, which the organization obviously deserves. It's not that the Flyers played badly, it's the fact that the Devils defensive style of play is exactly the sort of strategy needed to equalize our strong, offensive onslaught.

Nevertheless, the off-season's plans were brought to the table.

Allow me to start this off with what's on everyone's mind; Matt Carle.

"He's a good defenseman. I don't see any reason why we can't re-sign Matt quickly," Holmgren spoke into the mic. Our general manager then touched on how he and Carle's agent have spoke, and there's no reason to believe Matt wants an "out of line" amount of money to extend his tenure in Philadelphia.

In fact, Holmgren mentioned how he believes the Flyers could ink #25 under market value.....whatever the hell that means.

We dish a lot of trash talk in Carle's corner, and he's been speculated to want somewhere in the realm of $5-Million a season off our cap, which I firmly consider to be an over-payment. I, frankly, could not care less about any hidden statistics or mathematical formulas you generate to "prove" Matt Carle is a #1 or #2 blue liner, which is EXACTLY what $5-Million a season grants you to be.

However, if this "under market value" turns out to be a reasonable contract, then I guess I don't have much problem with Carle returning in Orange & Black, as long as he works on his shots from the points this off-season and through training camp.

Lord knows I'm tired of seeing Matt's passes or attempts meet the skates of our opposing players, and a turnover or odd-man rush results against our favor.

July 1st opens up as Free Agency Frenzy Day.

Holmgren told the press that although he's happy with the current roster he has now, he'll look to improve defensively once the Free Agency pool is uncovered and ready for summer swimmers.

This leads me to believe Paval Kubina is an odd-man out. Overall, that beast of a d-man turned out to be quite the Trade Deadline bust. No harm, no foul, good luck Kubina.

As for Kimmo Timonen?

"Kimmo has a lot more in the tank. He'll be back. And maybe beyond next season," Paul says. If you did not know, our veteran defenseman (Age: 37) will be entering the final season on his

6yr/$38-Million contract once the 2012-13 League year begins.

Timonen and Holmgren have spoken since our Playoff exit, and Paul's assured us that Timonen wants to continue playing. This shouldn't come to anyone's surprise considering #44 is the offspring of a Valhallan viking god and a beautiful, Germanic mortal princess.

Not really, but you know what I mean. The man has the heart of a mastodon.

Homer decided to address Chris Pronger's status, which he stated that there's no real progress. Whether Chris will be back next season or not, "Your guess is as good as mine," Paul said.

One thing's for sure, "Pronger's our captain. We make too much of this captain thing," Holmgren declared. That statement was brought on by a question of if Giroux could possibly wear the 'C' on his sweater next season.

After the Flyers traded away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, expectations were about as secure as Oprah's waist size. No one really knew what to anticipate with the upcoming 2011-12 season.

One media member asked Holmgren if he believed the Flyers underachieved, or over achieved. Paul's response was that we had a decent year, but ultimately you're going after one goal; the Stanley Cup. So the season was a disappointment. But due to all the young, up and coming talent we saw from October through to May, Paul's extremely excited about next season.

Aren't we all?

Which leads me to players like Jaromir Jagr.

Jags stated after Tuesday's loss that he's not sure what's in store for his NHL future. Whether he's still wearing an Orange sweater or not, again, no one knows. Including #68 himself.

"I haven't met with him yet," Paul told us. But Homer still believes Jaromir is an effective NHL player, even at the middle age of 40, and would carry that through to next season.

Paul had nothing but great things to say about Jagr's leadership. It meant everything to the younger skaters, especially the rookies. So I am expecting the Flyers to attack Jaromir the next 6-weeks with a pen and a naked dotted line. I'd certainly welcome the right-wing back.

James van Riemsdyk.

Half of you read that and mumbled under your breath, circa Joe Pesci from Home Alone. Homer told the press that James was ultimately a non-factor this season due to injury. Which certainly may be the case, but I gotta tell ya, folks.....next year's schedule is a Do-or-Die chance for JvR to prove he's not some 2nd Overall NHL Draft bust.

We're Flyers fans. Waiting is something we've been forced to get used to, but it ain't something we've grown to accept. Not by a longshot.

Aside from the lesser substantial subjects, that was basically a wrap on Holmgren's presser. There wasn't much light shed on how much interest Holmgren has in re-signing Jakub Voracek, who is also looking for a new contract. Paul told us that Jake's a good player who needs to work on his shot, and shoot more often.

Eric Wellwood was the team's best role player in the Playoffs, according to Homer. So the chances of Eric solidifying an NHL roster spot with the Flyers next year look to be pretty good. At least that's the vibe I was getting from Paul.

All in all, I still have faith in our GM to recognize what this team needs, and he'll stop it nothing to make sure he'll try everything this off-season to acquire the essentials the Flyers are missing.

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Was only able to listen to the 1st few minutes, but I believe I heard Homer say he hadn't talk to Lavy yet about the season...not reading into that, other than it strikes me as odd that he hasn't spoken to the coach, but has spoken to several players already.

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Sounded to me like they have no intention of moving Bryz. Said he had expected a better season from Bryz than he got, but he cited Bryz having to transition to a different system, dealing with Philly pressure, said he thought he'd improve next year with that in the rear view mirror.

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God I hope so. I'm no goalie but I can see he's got some serious technical flaws in his game, I'm not sure how you correct them at 31. And judging by the Russian language interview quote they just gave on CSN, he still needs to develop some thicker skin too.

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“Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must first set yourself on fire.”

first time I noticed this, you just add it? Anyway - great quote. Fog sure had some gems and this might be my favorite.

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Complete transcript

There may not have been much of a Chris Pronger update during Paul Holmgren's season-ending press conference on Thursday afternoon, but that doesn't mean there wasn't news. Homer talked at length about the future of the team and where things went wrong this season, and after the jump you can find a full transcript of his talk with the assembled media at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees.

First, though, the big news items:

We don't yet know the full list of injuries, as exit interviews with the medical staff are underway likely as we're typing this. That list will come out in due time, but it appears as though James van Riemsdyk could be on that list. Perhaps Nicklas Grossmann and Kimmo Timonen as well. We'll learn tomorrow, probably.

As for July 1, Holmgren gave the typical answer: "We'll look at ways to improve our hockey team." He didn't give a yes or a no to the question that implied, "Hey, so you're getting Ryan Suter, right?" but we know that if there's a discussion to be had, Holmgren will be in on it. That doesn't mean a signing will happen, but the Flyers will always (always!) kick the tires on these sorts of things.

Holmgren said he expects the salary cap to rise quite a bit. $69 million was his prediction. That would be good for us. Very, very good.

On the potential return of Jaromir Jagr: Homer would like to have him back as a Flyer, but the two sides agreed to talk after this season ended. They've yet to have start those talks, since it's been two days and all. He also said that there are other teams that would like Jagr as well, and if you read between the lines on that a bit, it might tell you that the Flyers aren't prepared to give him a whole bunch of money, should he want a raise.

On the potential return of Matt Carle: "No issues there." Both sides want to remain together, so it's just a matter of finding a ring that fits properly. Holmgren even said that he might be able to find a cheap ring and Carle would be just fine with that -- as in, he thinks a deal for below market value can be had here. That's very good news for us (or awful news, if you're one of the billion Carle haters in the Delaware Valley).

A little less assertive regarding Jakub Voracek: He said he doesn't know about Jake's contract status for next season and that he'll talk with agent shortly. Seems like it may still be up in the air.

All of this resigning stuff likely depends on the cap and CBA situation, no matter how much everybody says things are "business as usual." Hopefully there's more clarity on that by July 1.

On Richards and Carter: "I hope the best for Mike and Jeff. I hope they win a Stanley Cup at some point." And no, for the umpteenth time, Holmgren reiterated that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were not problem guys in the Flyers room. Can't wait to see how that's spun this time!

Finally, Kimmo Timonen's contract ends after next season, but Holmgren left the door open on Kimmo perhaps sticking around beyond next season. I think the assumption has always been that he'd go back to Finland after this contract, but this is the first indication to the contrary, as far as I can tell.

Much, much more after the jump. Lots of words. All worth a read, though.

Q: Can you start with the injuries and the surgeries?

"Well the actual exit medicals aren't until tonight so I don't really have the complete list, I'll get that to you guys as soon as I have it, but there will be a few guys who will need some surgeries."

Q: Can you give us an update on Chris Pronger and if you think there's any chance he could return next season

"Update, he's doing probably the same and any chance of returning, I would say your guess is as good as mine."

Q: Do you have to then proceed this summer as if--

"I don't know I think at some point ill sit down with Chris and see where hes at. Probably prior to July 1, we'll make an assessment on where he's at. I'm still, as it relates to Chris and as much as anything else, I'm a glass is half full kind of guy. I believe he's going to play, but I don't know, I don't have anything to back that up."

Q: When you say he's the same, does that mean he's still having problems with light and such?

"I think he still has headaches from time to time yeah, he has concussion-like symptoms."

Q: If July 1 comes and you're going to have to go forward without him, what kind of money relief can you get from that?

"Well I don't know that either. Right now there are certain rules and the rules change in the next CBA so I don't know."

Q: Does the expiration on the CBA impact how you'll do business this summer? I think we have the understanding that there will be some sort of temporary cap ...

"Yeah they'll set the cap at, wherever they set it at. It's probably going to be, I don't know, maybe 69 million, I would think. That's what I believe anyway. I would assume it would be business as usual."

Q: You made big changes last year, what is our greatest need that you'd ike to add to this team going forward?

"I'll go through our process of talking to the coaches and finishing up player interviews. I like our team. I think a lot of it is just going to be experience. I think a lot of our young players, over the course of 82 games and the playoff games they played in, that experience is good.

So I'd like to believe that the younger guys will be better next year. Some of the additions we made down the stretch, like Nicklas Grossmann, a full year I think is going to be a good addition to our hockey team. I think Ilya's going to be better next year."

Q: Some people think if Pronger's not going to be here you guys need to go out and get a big defenseman and there might be one available this summer...if there's a big start defensemen who's going to hit unrestricted free agency, do you see the Flyers being big players in that?

"I think it's fair to say when we get to July 1, we'll look at ways to improve our hockey team."

Q: Does the talk about a possible labor action impact that at all?


Q: Some of your players talked today about the captaincy and they were in support, if it needs to be changed, about giving it to Claude Giroux. Can you talk about when a decision like that would have to be made and do you consider Giroux, at such a young age, would he be a good captain?"

"Well right now Chris Pronger is our captain and until he's deemed unable to play next year, I'm not sure I even want to get into that. I think Claude's a good young leader on this hockey team. I think we have good older leaders too in Kimmo and Danny Briere. I think we make too much of this captaincy thing, to be quite honest with you, that's my opinion. Right now Chris is our captain and that's the way it's going to stay until he's deemed unable to play. "

Q: Jagr is saying this is the most fun he's had in the NHL, he also said he wants to play in the NHL next year but he stopped short of saying that he will come back here and hinted that he wants to see what kind of plans the organization will have, what kind of role he'll have on the team. Would you like to bring Jagr back, do you still see him being in impact player next year at 41?

"I can still see Jaromir being a good player in our league next year. We did talk to him and his agent briefly during the year about next season. We kind of agreed to talk about it more after the season was done, but I have not met with Jaromir yet so we'll see."

Q: Did you think he looked a little tired in the playoffs?

"I think a lot of guys did against the Devils. Not just him."

Q: Would you like to have him back though? Or do you still need to weigh that?

"I'd like to have him back. We'll see, I think there will be other teams that would like to have him on their team too."

‪Q:What happened in [the second series]?

"I think you are going to have to give the Devils their due. I think they played tremendously. We had no answer for them."

Q: You don't think it was a personnel thing?

"No, I think they played. We couldn't generate a forecheck. They did a good job on the forecheck and outside. From a technical stand point, I am sure the coaches will look at a lot of the things on what happened. I have met with Peter just on overall review of the year. We haven't gotten into the playoffs yet. We will talk some more and evaluate it and assess what happened over the summer when we have lots of time to think and talk about it.

"I don't know if it will go further for me than the league. The Devils played great and the league is so close. I have said this before, it is a hard league. It is no small fete to make the playoffs anymore. To win a round against the Penguins is no small fete. To get beat like we did against the Devils ... our guys tried as hard as they could. We had no answer for how they played. I am giving them the credit."

Q: If they did try real hard and there was a five game gap ...

"You start to dissect it. We one the first game after the seven game win off. We looked great for two periods and they were tired from playing a seven game series. I don't know what happened in the second game. We didn't look like we were there. The third game, I thought was a fairly even game. In overtime, we got served up two power plays and we didn't generate enough opportunities to score. To me, you have to score on the power play. The fourth game, I thought they had their way. The fifth game, I thought we played a good game."

Q: Overall this season, did you over-achieve or under-achieve?

"I don't know. I think we had a decent year. I am disappointed we are not playing. When you start the year, your goal is to win the Stanley Cup. The fact that we are sitting here talking today, I am disappointed. I am excited about how our team is going to look next year. That is what I am excited about."

Q:What would you say was the biggest positive and negative surprise from this season?

"I don't know if I can sum it up."

Q: Did you expect the rookies to be as good as they were?

"We knew we had a good group of young guys. I think the coaches did a good job of putting them in situations and giving them roles that keep them excelling. To their credit they did. For [sean] Couturier to play the role he did in the playoffs as a shut down centerman and make plays gives you a glimpse of what he is going to do in the future. It is pretty neat."

Q: Do you think being here a year will help Bryz?

"I absolutely think being here a year will help him. He had a lot of things to adjust to and adopt to. From playing in Philadelphia and the scrutiny of the media as compared to what he came from, the scrutiny of the fans from what he came from and a different style of play. I don't think there is going to be any question that Ilya will play better next year.

"Did he play as good as I expect this year?I would say no. I think he is going to get one year under his belt. I have said this before about players who come from different organizations and sign a big money deal with a new team. There is an adjustment period. I thought that Kimmo [Timonen] went through it and Danny [briere] went through it. I think there is a little bit of an adjustment period for Ilya in that position as goaltender for the Flyers. I think he handled it pretty good and he has probably learned something."

Q: Bryz made it pretty clear during the year that he was told to tone it down a bit, do you think that effected his play at all?

"I am not sure how to answer that. His job is to stop pucks and help us win games. It is not Comedy Central. There is probably a middle of the road scenario somewhere in there. He is a funny guy to talk to, I don't think there is any question about that. He has got some interesting concepts of life and walk down the road."

Q: Did you get a kick out of that or he went to far?

"I know when to walk away. When I am talking to him I just say, 'Well, I gotta go now.'" *laughter*

Q: Were you upset on how he handled the Winter Classic?

"No. We are all different, him included. We all learn lessons in life and I think Ilya, for one year in Philadelphia, he has learned a lot of things. I think we will see a different person next year. We will certainly see a different goaltender."

Q: On goals against this season:

"I think that is a good question. That is probably a question for the coaching staff. There is no question in my mind that we have to do a better job with goals against. It is related to Ilya a little bit. It is related a little bit to how we play. We are an offensive team that can score. We just finished a five game series where we didn't score a lot of goals. We certainly didn't generate a lot of offensive chances. We have to look at what happened there and what you are going to do about it when you get into that situation next year."

Q: We've already said you're okay with the personnel on the team right now ... so with the style of play, you think there will need to be some tinkering?

"I think that's a question for the coach, it's something that we've talked about. I think Peter, when I talked to him this morning he said he wants to see the series again and see what the Devils did. He's a good coach and I'm sure he'll come up with something that will make us better next year."

Q: There was a perception, accurate or inaccurate, that you didn't have the most tight-knit group in the locker room, but this year it seemes a lot more harmonious. Are you encouraged by how theses pieces fit together moving forward? Just the atmosphere in the room seems better."

"I'm not sure how that relates to .... I think we have a good group and a good mix of veterans and young kids. Our young kids got to learn from some good veteran guys and Jaromir was a huge part of that, huge. Not only his play on the ice and what he brought to our locker room and what he brought to the practice rink and our strength and condition room was outstanding. I think he was just ... having him around for the young guys was a great, great thing. "

Q: Can you evaluate Matt Carle's performance this year and would you like to re-sign him?

"I think Matt had a good year. He's up there in numbers and Matt's a good defensemen. I've said that before, if Matt wants to be here, we'd like to have him back. I don't see any reason why we can't work out a deal. We're in a position now where we cant sign him because of tagging space but this is something that could be done quickly, I think. His demands, when I spoke with him and his agent, nothing was ever out of line. Could we get him under market value? I would say that we probably could. So I don't see any issues there. "

Q: You've been very good at beating the market by negotiating trades before free agency opens. Would you look at that this year?

"I guess you could look at everything. We're always looking to improve our hockey team and looking at ways to do that."

Q: On Giroux and van Riemsdyk's seasons:

"Obviously Claude had a great year. Did he exceed expectations? I don't know. He's sort of been trending that way for me the last couple of years. This year maybe because of the changes we made last summer gave him obviously a little more of a role, and he jumped all over it and had a great year.

"James, if I was grading him, I'd give him a huge incomplete just based on injuries. There was something wrong all the time with him, from his oblique to his stomach to the break in his foot, little bit of a concussion issue. I think James is a good young player that unfortunately for us was not a factor for the most part of the year because of injury. "

Q: On the Carter and Richards trades working out:

"I hope the best for Mike and Jeff. I hope they do win the Stanley Cup at some point. They're both good kids and that's what they're playing the game of hockey for is to win, so that's good for them. I'm happy the way it's worked out for us. I wouldn't change anything."

Q: On the effect on the chemistry in the locker room:

"I have a hard time answering that because really what you're asking is were those guys problems, and I don't think that's the case. I think those guys were good young players and we decided we needed to make changes, and a lot of it revolved around Ilya and salary cap and stuff like that. This group was a good, tight-knit group. I have no problems saying that. Was it tighter than last year's team? It's hard to compare. This was a good group because we had a bunch of young kids that were willing to just listen and learn from a good group of older guys.

Q: We did hear that some players or management came to you after last season and said there needed to be some changes ...

"I must not have been there when they came to me. I have no recollection of that."

Q: Does Kimmo Timonen have something left in the tank?

"Absolutely. I met with Kimmo this morning and we talked a long time. He wants to play, not closing the door... I know his contract is up after next season, but he's certainly willing to talk about playing beyond next year, which is good news for me."

Q: Is Nick Cousins a guy you could see coming into camp and competing for a job right away?

"That'd be great if he did, but that's a stretch for me. He's a good young player, but that's a huge stretch for me."

Q: Will van Riemsdyk need surgery?

"I don't know that for sure. He's got a stomach issue that's been bugging him, but I don't know if that's something that we need to look at from a surgical thing or not."

Q: Eric Wellwood was one of the guys that actually looked fast against the Devils. Is he a guy you need to really consider next year?

"Based on how he was used in the playoffs, I'd say yeah. From a role standpoint, I'm not sure if anybody played better in their role than Eric did. I don't know if he had a point in the playoffs, but he killed penalties, he gave us energy, he used his speed... he was good. Very good."

Q: On Jake Voracek's contract status:

"I don't know. We'll talk about that with his agent here over the course of the summer. I think Jake had a good year. I think there's areas he can still get better at. I think he can work on his shot a little more, he can probably shoot the puck more. But he's an exciting young player who's going to continue to get better."

Q: On Sean Couturier's defensive vs. offensive gameI:

"I think you worry a little bit about putting a guy in a defensive role like that and stifling his offense. But we talked about this a number of times during the year, I think Sean next year will be a guy the coaches will probably think about using on the power play from time to time.

I think he has good offensive instincts, maybe above average. He's always produced offensively at every level. If history shows anything, it's that guys who play in a defensive role against the other team's better players, they generally get offensive chances because the guy you're playing against doesn't really want to play defense. So sometimes it's a better situation."

Q: On Holmgren's approach to free agency now vs. five years ago:

"That's a good question and a hard one to answer. Five years ago, we were really active on July 1. We had a lot of cap space, we were the worst team in the league the year before. But every year the salary cap has been in place, the standings have compacted. I don't know how to answer that. Again, we'll look at every way we can to improve our hockey team. Do we have as many holes as we did five years ago? Probably not. We do have some holes and we're going to try to fill those holes.

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