VOORHEES, N.J. – The voice emanating from down the hall was very familiar, but hadn’t been heard around here for quite some time.
It was refreshing to have it back though, even if it’s for just a short time.
A bearded and bespectacled Chris Pronger was back at the Skate Zone, and while his button-down shirt and slacks suggested he was all business, he still had time to crack a few jokes and bring a few smiles.
Pronger came down the hall and shook hands with several members of the media saying hello, but beyond that he wasn’t talking publicly.
But when his new protégé Luke Schenn was about to face a media scrum, Pronger, as is his style, yelled at the gathered scribes:
“Be gentle or feel the wrath,” he said.
Just like the good old days of 2010.
Once the kidding was over though, Pronger had work to do.
Already doing some video work for the team from his home in St. Louis – work of which general manager Paul Holmgren says Pronger “tells it like he sees it” – on Monday Pronger had a private tutoring session.
After Schenn was done chatting with the media, he met Pronger and assistant coach Kevin McCarthy in the assistant coaches offices to do video work with the young defenseman.
The meeting lasted more than an hour.
Even though he’s not skating, and he is probably in his final days as Flyers captain, it appears Pronger still can have a positive impact on the Flyers defense.
He will be back at Skate Zone on Tuesday.
Danny Briere has a hairline fracture in his wrist. That’s the bad news.
The good news is Briere is further along in his recovery from the injury than the Flyers originally expected.
“The news on Danny today was somewhat positive,” Holmgren said. “The injury is further along than we anticipated. We’ll see how he is tomorrow and the next day. It probably changes my thoughts on him being out an extended period of time.”
The Flyers initially thought Briere would miss the first couple weeks of the season. Now that timetable appears to be shorter.
How short? It’s still hard to tell.
And while Holmgren wouldn’t say Briere wouldn’t practice at some point this week, meaning the Flyers forward could lace up the skates before the opener, he did feel that the chance of Briere playing the opening weekend were, “Iffy still.”
The battle for jobs became a little clearer Monday.
Coach Peter Laviolette flipped some lines around, giving Eric Wellwood and Jody Shelley a chance on the fourth line with Zac Rinaldo and relegating Tye McGinn and Scott Laughton to the fifth line with Tom Sestito, who was there for a second day.
Laviolette also spoke well of Rinaldo after practice, suggesting he will likely have a spot in the starting lineup.
Until Briere returns, that means there are two spots up for grabs among five players. The lines tomorrow could provide more hints as to whom might have a leg up for those spots.
On the defensive side, the only switch Monday saw Bruno Gervais jump up to the third pair with Nick Grosmann and newly acquired Kurtis Foster drop down to the fourth pair with Andreas Lilja.
With the top five pretty much set in stone, it looks to be a battle between Foster and Gervais for the final starting spot with Lilja trailing behind them. Of course, this could be all moot if Erik Gustafsson returns strong from a foot injury in a couple weeks.
For the second consecutive day, Laviolette put a major emphasis on special teams, spending the entire second part of practice working on both power play and penalty kill.
No changes were made to the lineups in those two units from Sunday.