James van Riemsdyk has been to five Flyers Wives Carnivals but the experience never gets old.
More than a decade ago, van Riemsdyk attended his first Carnival. A couple years later, he was traded to Toronto but now he’s been back with the Flyers for two years and a regular at the annual event.
“It’s cool to see the new stuff they come up with each year,’’ van Riemsdyk said during the 43rd Carnival at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday. “And how much bigger it seems to get each year.’’
Fans bring van Riemsdyk, now 30, photographs of when he was barely past his teenage years.
“To see the same people are supporting the team and the charities (affiliated with the Carnival), it’s pretty cool to see,’’ van Riemsdyk said.
Thousands of fans look forward to the Carnival each year. It’s become a popular event for both young and old – a chance for devoted followers of the team to meet their favorite players and get to know them a bit.
And of course, Gritty was on hand to add his talents to the whole affair.
Among the new attractions this year was a new Kid’s Press Conference. Children were able to ask questions for general manager Chuck Fletcher, coach Alain Vigneault and players Kevin Hayes and Shayne Gostisbehere.
Also new this year, fans were able to take their turn in the AAA Car Care Crane, a human-sized version of the classic prize-grabbing arcade game. After getting securely harnessed and suspended above a large pile of prizes, participants attempted to secure Flyers goodies such as t-shirts, bobbleheads and even game tickets.
On the main concourse of the Wells Fargo Center, fans were able to test their golf, ping pong, and gaming skills with activations from Top Golf, SPIN Philadelphia, and N3rd Street Gamers.
Funds raised from the Flyers Wives Carnival benefit Flyers Charities and its mission to support a multitude of worthy non-profit organizations that provide educational and recreational resources to underserved youth, engage in important medical and healthcare research, and promote countless community investment initiatives to positively influence the community.
These organizations include the American Cancer Society, Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Michael’s Way, Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, Salvation Army, Simon’s Heart and many more.
“It was great,’’ said first-year Flyer center Kevin Hayes of his initial Carnival experience. “I really didn’t know what to expect, I had never done anything like that but it was awesome. To see all the fans support us – I know we’re going to need them in this final playoff push.
“They support us all the time and it’s easy to give back.’’
Likewise Matt Niskanen, who came to the Flyers last summer in a trade with Washington.
“It was well-organized, some unique stuff,’’ Niskanen said. “Met a lot of cool people. I liked it.’’
>Trade deadline looms Monday
Around this time last year it was pretty much a given that Wayne Simmonds was going to be traded at the NHL deadline. He eventually wound up going to the Nashville Predators at the last minute.
This year, with the Flyers in fairly comfortable position for a possible playoff berth, things are a little more in question.
One thing is certain: The Flyers will be buyers, probably for a proven forward who can help in the scoring department and take up some of the slack left by the absence of Oskar Lindblom (battling a rare form of bone cancer) and Nolan Patrick (chronic migraine headache symptoms).
Fletcher probably doesn’t want to give up a roster player to achieve a deal, unless it’s someone on the fringe. For a while, it looked like Gostisbehere might be a prime candidate to head elsewhere, but knee surgery and an unexpected lengthy rehab might quash any such plan.
Gostisbehere is coming off a two-game rehab assignment with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He registered one assist in the two contests with a minus-1. “Ghost” was recalled on Sunday and is expected to play in Tuesday night’s game vs. San Jose.
After Saturday’s 4-2 win over Winnipeg, the Flyers are 33-0-3 when leading or tied after two periods of play. . .The Flyers are 16-0-1 when Hayes scores a goal. . .Philadelphia’s 78 third-period goals are second in the NHL to Washington. . .Justin Braun has two three-assist games in his last five contests.