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Flyers Comment on Brawl; Knuble Speaks with Shanahan

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

Several players react to Senators-Sabres melee on Thursday night

(Voorhees, NJ, February 23) – After arriving back in town in the early morning hours on Friday, Flyers Head Coach John Stevens held an optional practice on Friday afternoon at the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone.

Only a few players skated, including Dmitry Afansenkov, Todd Fedoruk, Robert Esche and Darren Reid. The rest of the group decided to take the option and either work out or get some rest for the upcoming home game on Saturday against Toronto (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, WPHT 1210).

One topic that came up on Friday was the brawl that occurred during Thursday night's Buffalo vs. Ottawa game after Sabres forward Chris Drury was bloodied by the Seantors' Chris Neil, resulting in an on-ice melee, including a fight between goaltenders.

Simon Gagne, himself a victim of a hit from behind on February 12 from Detroit's Andreas Lilja, had no problems with what occurred.

"It's part of the game, and sometimes it's good for hockey," said Gagne. "I think the fans like it, and you see a lot of people talking about it today.

In fact, Gagne would not mind seeing an increase in on-ice altercations and would be happy if the much-debated "instigator rule" were abolished. Right now, the player that instigates a fight gets an additional two-minute minor and is suspended after accruing a certain number of those types of penalties.

"The last two years the fights are still there, but I think we should have a little bit more fighting," he said. "It's good for hockey and it's good for the fans.

"If they change that [instigator] rule I think you're going to see a little bit more. At the same I think it's smarter. You're not going to see guys go after the best players, and if they do, they are going to deal with the tough guys at the end of the game. That's a rule that I am for, and hopefully that's going to happen."

Richards, who heard about the fight and watched it on the internet after arriving home early Friday morning, pointed out that those kinds of brawls don't happen every day.

"[Fighting] didn't leave the game, but it obviously went down a little bit since a couple years ago, and since maybe 10 years ago it has gone way down. I think last night was just an odd situation."

Knuble Speaks With Shanahan

Mike Knuble got the chance on Friday to speak with his teammates for the first time since undergoing surgery on his face on Wednesday afternoon to repair two broken bones he sustained in a collision with New York's Brendan Shanahan on February 17.

Knuble also spoke to Shanahan earlier in the week. The Rangers' winger was placed on Injured Reserve by New York and is out indefinitely.

"We played together a little bit back in 1997 and 98 in Detroit so we know each other from before," said Knuble. "He wanted to make sure I was ok, and I wanted to make sure he's doing alright. He was obviously concerned about my well being, and I am his. We just kind of laughed about it and moved on and want to get healthy and get back to our teams."

Knuble is hoping to get back into the lineup in less than four weeks in time to play some games before the end of the season.

"We feel like we've been making some progress the past few weeks. With the big trade the team made, you need everybody you can get out there right now and the last thing we need is to get back to the injury front and lose more guys.

"I want to get out there and finish the season as strong as possible. Hopefully I'm going to get a couple weeks back in the end."

Esche Comments on Trade Rumors

With the Flyers currently carrying three goaltenders, one name that has floated around on the trade rumor circuit is that of goaltender Robert Esche. Esche has heard the rumors before, but was asked about how they are different this year and what he hopes to happen before the NHL trade deadline on February 27.

"I think I just look at it like, for five years I've learned so much here," said Esche, who was acquired by the team from the Phoenix Coyotes in the summer of 2002. "So much that I'm going to take on the rest of my career and the rest of my life that it's just been a lot of fun. I do want to stay here and do want to be a number one guy again. If there's a bump in the road, you just have to take the good years and the bad years. There are a lot of organizations that do that, they take good years and bad years with goalies.

"I really don't know what's going to happen. I know there's a lot of rumors and talk, more so than probably years past."
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