VOORHEES,N.J. – Former Flyer great Claude Giroux recently signed a free-agent contract with the Ottawa Senators, which will be a bit of a homecoming for the ex-Philadelphia captain.
But the chance to be a “hometown’’ hero is pretty rare in professional sports because the odds of an athlete winding up where he was raised are pretty rare.
Which is why the arrival of defenseman Tony DeAngelo in Philadelphia via trade with the Carolina Hurricanes promises to be pretty special.
DeAngelo’s family tree is somewhat rooted in South Philly and it goes without saying there will be a large contingent of relatives and friends on hand whenever he steps on the Wells Fargo Center ice.
On merit alone, DeAngelo brings a wealth of talent to the Flyers. But with Ryan Ellis sidelined indefinitely with a serious injury, it looks like DeAngelo will be initially paired with top defenseman Ivan Provorov and that prospect holds a lot of promise.
If these two click the way Provorov and Matt Niskanen did back in 2019-20, that hero thing might not be an overstatement.
“I know him (Provorov) just from playing against him,’’ DeAngelo said after a workout at the Flyers Training Center. “I know what kind of player he is so I’m just trying to pick his brain on different little things. There’s not too much to talk about. We need to play together.’’
Many believe Provorov can duplicate the kind of season he enjoyed a few years back when he scored 17 goals and won the Barry Ashbee Trophy for best Flyers defenseman.
“He’s a really good player, really good defender,’’ DeAngelo said. “He can defend guys one-on-one, finish guys off and break out the other way. I feel like I complement those kind of guys really well. I’m hoping we can get off on the right foot quick and get some chemistry going early.’’
On paper, it looks like a Provorov-DeAngelo pairing should be productive. The Flyers need a shutdown tandem to help reverse that ugly minus-87 goals-against number from last season.
“I always tell my partner every time I touch the puck the first look is my partner,’’ DeAngelo said. “Whether it’s in the neutral zone, the offensive zone. Throughout my career my partners have had better numbers (with DeAngelo) because I give them the puck a lot. Put them in spots where they can shoot the puck.
“I think ‘Provy’ scored 17 goals a few years ago. He has a big shot and I think defensively the most important thing for us is to find out our spots. Offensively I’m going to put him in real good spots and I think he will do the same for me. We can capitalize there.’’
Entering the FTC on Thursday for the first official day of training camp had to be an emotional one for DeAngelo. This is the stuff little kids dream about.
“I was nervous for my legs,’’ DeAngelo said, making reference to coach John Tortorella’s demanding skate sessions. “I’ll tell you, it still doesn’t feel real for me playing for the Flyers, not yet.
“I used to come to these training camps as a kid and wait outside, try to get an autograph or whatever. It won’t feel real until I really play a game. It’s much different just walking in here everyday. It’s pretty cool and it’s going to feel even more special when I put a jersey on.’’
DeAngelo spent just one year with ‘Canes (on a one-year contract) after getting into some controversial off-ice situations over the past few previous years. He did well, kept his nose clean and his mouth shut, which is why general manager Chuck Fletcher felt comfortable making the trade during the NHL Entry Draft at Montreal in July.
The trick now is to make sure he doesn’t slip up or get too complacent now that he’s in a somewhat desirable position in Philadelphia.
“I don’t have any complacency in my game,’’ he insisted. “Especially coming here. I don’t have any extra pressure or anything like that. But I have a standard on what I think I should be, game-in and game-out. That’s not going to change. It’s only going to keep getting higher.’’
>No update on Couturier
Tortorella said on Friday he had not received an update on the status of Sean Couturier’s latest back injury. Couturier, who underwent back surgery on Feb. 11 and missed the rest of the season, experienced discomfort over the past week and was scheduled to be examined by a specialist on Thursday morning. . .The Flyers take on Boston in the preseason opener at the WFC on Saturday night. Tortorella said GM Chuck Fletcher and assistant GM Brent Flahr will make out the lineup so that management can get a look at some of the new and young players. Lehigh Valley head coach Ian Laperriere will work behind the bench. Tortorella said he and his staff won’t be together to oversee game operations until the final two preseason contests.