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Enjoying Each Other's Company

by Kevin Kurz / Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers getting to know one another in Whistler

(Whistler, British Columbia) – To the common observer, rappelling down trees, crawling through imaginary electric fences and falling off of picnic tables wouldn’t exactly be thought of as productive training exercises for a hockey team.

But just ask the players themselves what they think of the team-building exercises they have been going through the last two days in Whistler, British Columbia, and you’ll realize that the activities have real meaning.

“It’s a great experience,” said Danny Briere. “This was in-your-face. Some of the exercises we did it just showed you how much quicker and better it was when you worked as a team compared to by yourself or in groups of two or three. It was pretty cool to realize that.

“Clearly you see that you need to build as a team to move forward.”
Sami Kapanen falls safely into the arms of his teammates during a team-building exercise in Whistler, B.C. (Flyers Photos)

Scott Hartnell, another newcomer to the team this season, agreed with Briere.

“You have to build that base, and then go from there,” said Hartnell of getting to know his teammates. “You fill in bits and pieces with different guys, and everyone has a piece of the puzzle.”

Head Coach John Stevens has been putting his teams through various exercises since his days as the boss of the Phantoms. His task is not an easy one, with the turnover in the Flyers’ lineup from when he took over the club nearly a year ago. Ask Stevens what the value of these exercises is, and it’s easy to tell that he views this as a tremendously important part of his job.

 “I think any time you get the group to openly have a discussion about things like problem-solving, and synergy with the team, and the identity of your hockey team, it’s very good to communicate with each other what we expect and what we want the team to look like,” said Stevens.

“We’ll have some really good discussions about who we are, what’s going to make us a good team and what’s going to be our make-up.”

And what exactly does he want the team to be?

“A hardworking team that’s aggressive on the puck, brings a physical element to the way we play, and is very defensively responsible.”

Moving on From Edmonton

Stevens was not happy with the way the team played in Edmonton, dropping a 5-3 decision following a season opening victory in Calgary. The Oilers had far too many scoring chances in the game, and the Flyers had to rely on a strong performance from Martin Biron to stay in the game.

“We gave up 14 quality end-zone chances in that game. It wasn’t just one area; it was breakdowns in several different areas,” said Stevens. “When you see that, you can go back to one thing, and that’s urgency and competitiveness without the puck. We didn’t have that at times. We weren’t physical on the puck, we didn’t pay attention to detail, and they took advantage of that.

“If we just correct that one thing, all of those chances are going to go away.”


Scottie Upshall and R.J. Umberger joined the team in Edmonton on Saturday. Umberger skated Monday with the club and could be in the lineup for the game against Vancouver on Wednesday. … The Flyers vs. Vancouver game is now a 10:30 p.m. start time. It will be rebroadcast on Comcast SportsNet the following day at 7:30 p.m.
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