The Philadelphia Flyers announced that they have signed 6'5'', 235-pound defenseman Derian Hatcher, 6'5'', 235-pound defenseman Mike Rathje (RATH-jee) and 6'5'', 235-pound defenseman Chris Therien, according to club General Manager Bob Clarke. Hatcher signed a four-year contract; Rathje signed a five-year contract and Therien signed a one-year contract. Per club policy, financial terms were not disclosed. All three were unrestricted free agents.
"After the season, we lost [Vladimir] Malakhov, [Marcus] Ragnarsson and [Mattias] Timander. They are three big defensemen. We felt that we had to replace them and get better and we did," said Clarke in making the announcement. "Rathje is a premier defensive defenseman. He is a really good passer who gets the puck out of his own end. Hatcher is similar except that he is a more physical player and more intimidating because of his physical play. They are both really top-notch defensemen. We knew Chris (Therien) wanted to come back and play here. Both Keith Primeau and Jeremy Roenick called me on their own and said that Chris would help the team and that he is not only important on the ice, but in the locker room."
Hatcher, 33, recorded five goals and 12 assists for 17 points and 27 penalty minutes in 24 regular season games for the Motor City Mechanics of the United Hockey League. He registered four assists and eight penalty minutes in 15 games for the Detroit Red Wings during the 2003-04 season. He missed the majority of the 2003-04 season recovering from a knee injury sustained in a game against the Vancouver Canucks on October 16, 2003.
In parts of 13 NHL seasons (from 1991-92 through 2003-04) with the Minnesota North Stars, Dallas Stars and Detroit, Hatcher has registered 71 goals and 227 assists for 298 points and 1,388 penalty minutes in 842 regular season games. He was a member of Dallas' Stanley Cup Championship team in 1999 under Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. He was originally selected by Minnesota in the first round (eighth overall) of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.
Rathje, 31, recorded two goals and 17 assists for 19 points and 46 penalty minutes in 80 games for the San Jose Sharks during the 2003-04 season. In parts of 11 NHL seasons (from 1993-94 through 2003-04), all with San Jose, Rathje has registered 27 goals and 128 assists for 155 points and 439 penalty minutes in 671 games. He is San Jose's all-time franchise leader in games played. Rathje was originally drafted by San Jose in the first round (third overall) of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft.
Therien, 33, recorded one goal and nine assists for 10 points and 52 penalty minutes in 67 regular season games for the Flyers and Dallas during the 2003-04 season. In parts of 10 NHL seasons (from 1993-94 through 2003-04) with the Flyers and Dallas, Therien has registered 29 goals and 126 assists for 155 points and 551 penalty minutes in 717 games. He was originally drafted by the Flyers in the third round (47th overall) of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.
The players had the following to say about signing with Philadelphia:Derian Hatcher:
"I am excited. Bob Clarke drafted me back when he and I was in Minnesota and obviously I had some great years under Ken Hitchcock in Dallas. Those two combinations were big factors in my decision. I know the Flyers are a very good, competitive team and that's another thing that weighed in on my decision. I truly feel that they are out to win at least a Stanley Cup. That's what I know about them."Mike Rathje:
"I am really excited, actually. It is kind of going to be an awkward position for me because I was in San Jose for such a long time and I have never been through this before. I am sure things will work out in Philadelphia. I am definitely going to make their blue line solid. I can play every night and play 25 minutes a game and maybe add a little bit of offense.
Question: What do you know about the Flyers?
"I know that they are a big team that works hard every night. They made it to the conference finals in 2004 and came close to making the finals just like the Sharks did. There is a lot of tradition in Philly and that was one of things I figured that if I was to play for another team that Philadelphia would be a team to play for."Chris Therien:
"It feels great to be back. This is the place I really wanted to be. A lot of my realy close teammates and friends are here. This is a great team with a legitimate shot to win the Stanley Cup. I am really thrilled.
Question: What about Primeau and Roenick going to bat for you?
"That's part of the reason I wanted to come back. I am very thankful to Primeau and JR for doing that. They are two good friends and two great teammates and it's one of the big reasons I wanted to play for the Flyers."For ticket information and an updated seating chart, click here or call (215) 218-PUCK (7825).