The Flyers Carnival has been around since 1977 but Sunday’s rendition at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia will be a first for first-year head coach John Tortorella.
He’s excited, to say the least.
Not only will he, along with many of his players, get a chance to interact with fans but also represent the team as it raises money for great causes, including one dear to his heart.
“I’ve heard so much about it, heard some really great things,” he said. “I’m with PSPCA (Pennsylvania Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). My wife and I are looking forward to our first whack at it.”
Tortorella wishes he could add just one more element of joy to the occasion.
“You know you never get those things at the right time — you wish your team was making a run for the playoffs and all that,” he said. “But we need to put that aside, all of us that are involved in this and kind of understand the real stuff.
“So I’m looking forward to meeting the people and being with the animals.”
James van Riemsdyk has been attending these events at the Wells Fargo Center since the 2009-10 hockey season and says it’s a highlight for him.
Along with his teammates, JVR has been disappointed to see the Carnival cancelled in 2020, 2021 and 2022 due to the pandemic.
Having it back should be exciting.
“It raises a lot of money for a great cause,” said van Riemsdyk. “That’s the most important thing. It’s pretty amazing how long it’s been around for and the different iterations of it. It’s definitely a big event and an exciting event.”
The New Jersey native says his favorite lighter moment was watching teenaged boys taking slap shots at former goaltender Brian Boucher from “about 10 feet away.”
“That,” he said with a grin, “was always fun to see.”
Scott Laughton has been around almost as long as van Riemsdyk and always enjoys getting involved with worthy causes.
“It raises awareness and money,” Laughton pointed out. “You get to interact with all the people that spend a lot of money to watch us play. It will be good to interact with them, we haven’t done it in a while due to COVID.”
>Youth movement makes progress
When a couple of your kids each registers a pair of points in a win over a playoff contending team, it just might strengthen a team’s notion its youth kick is headed in the right direction.
This idea was on full display the other night when Flyers rookies Tyson Foerster and Egor Zamula were highly involved in a 6-3 win over the Florida Panthers.
In his brief stint in Philadelphia, Foerster has been a revelation. For someone so new to the National Hockey League, he seems so comfortable with the puck and surveying the ice surface to make plays.
To top off Tuesday’s stardom, Foerster provided the tying goal late in Thursday night’s 5-4 come-from-behind shootout win over Minnesota.
Zamula, one of those diamond-in-the-rough, undrafted gems, has been back and forth from Lehigh Valley the past few seasons but he’s really coming into his own under the guidance of Phantoms coach Ian Lapperiere.
The Flyers have already integrated young talents such as Noah Cates, Morgan Frost, Cam York, Owen Tippett and Wade Allison into their lineup.
In all likelihood, there will be more budding talents integrated into this roster by the time next season rolls around.
Goalie Carter Hart sounds encouraged by what he’s seen of this new wave so far.
“I think it’s nice to see some of our young guys step in and play some more minutes here down the stretch. Tyson’s done a great job. He’s a guy who’s got a great shot, a great sense for the game. He’s done a really good job of adjusting to the NHL. It’s definitely promising.”
Hart keeps a watchful eye on the Flyers’ defense corps because that’s usually who decides how busy a night he’s going to have. Zamula had played 11 NHL games this season prior to Tuesday night and the maturity might be starting to show.
“I thought he was solid,” Hart said. “He kept it simple, executed well and made some good plays.”