PHILADELPHIA -- Jakub Voracek
said he had three great seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets
, but the ending certainly left a sour taste in his mouth. So the Flyers forward certainly has had this game circled on his calendar for quite a while.
"I'd be lying if I said no," he said. "I was pretty excited for this game since the season started. It's going to be a great game. Hope it's going to end for us well. … It's another NHL game for me and I'm going to try to do my best as always, hopefully help the team win, and show them (the Blue Jackets) they made a mistake."
The Jackets picked Voracek with the seventh pick of the 2007 Entry Draft, and in three seasons in Columbus he averaged 13 goals and 45 points per campaign.
Last season, though, he endured the worst stretch of his hockey life, picking up just one point in his final 16 games.
"It was the worst time in my life, in my NHL career," Voracek said. "Even if it's a tough stretch, in 16 games, if you're playing on the first or second line, you still got to be able to get more than one secondary assist, somehow. You've got to get it. It's impossible to not have it. It was a really bad time, nothing went in. We didn't play well as a team and I didn't play well as a player."
It got worst at his season-ending exit interview, when Voracek's conditioning was criticized publicly by coach Scott Arniel
"The biggest thing that is holding him back is his conditioning," Arniel told the Columbus Dispatch that day. "I think this guy can be an elite player in this League if he gets himself in shape."
Voracek still is bothered by the comments, more because they were made publicly.
"I don't think it's right to talk about it in the papers," he said. "It is what it is, it's what he said. I disagree with him. I went to the World Championship last year and I felt great the whole tournament, which was almost the end of May. It was a long season for me as well, and physically I felt great. Sometimes it doesn't mean if you play bad that you're out of shape."
Voraceck now says he's moved beyond what was said, and spent time on the bench this morning talking to former teammates.
"It is what it is," he said. "It's behind me and I have totally new NHL life."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK