VOORHEES, N.J. – When Paul Holmgren announced that Steve Mason was going to be one of the Flyers two goalies for the rest of this year and next season too, he wasn’t kidding.
Mason, 24, who would have been a restricted free agent in the summer, signed a one-year contract extension with the Flyers worth $1.5 million.
"It definitely gives me something to look forward to and to be excited for and something to work toward at the same time," Mason said. "It's going to be a great opportunity for [me] here. There's no better organization for me to be in. I'm really looking forward to getting the opportunity to play in front of the Flyers fans and play for the organization."
Mason has played just one period thus far for the Flyers, making nine saves on nine shots in a 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets Saturday in relief of starter Ilya Bryzgalov.
The decision to sign now shows a level of commitment on Mason's part to the organization. As a restricted free agent, he could have waited until the summer to see if the Flyers would have made him a qualifying offer that he was due of $3.2 million.
If the Flyers didn't make him that offer, Mason would have been free to sign anywhere of his choice.
Instead, he wants to rejuvenate his career in orange and black.
"Whether that [the qualifying offer] would have been given to me [I don't know]," Mason said. "It was something I was comfortable not waiting for. Coming to Philadelphia, there was a group of players I was familiar with. I played World Juniors with three of them (Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Luke Schenn) and played with Jake (Voracek) in Columbus for a few years.
"Having that sense of familiarity makes things easier coming in. If you look at this team, once everyone gets back from injury it's a great team all-around and it's something I want to be a part of."
Mason, the 2009 Calder Trophy winner as a rookie with the Columbus Blue Jackets, was acquired in a trade last week in exchange for Michael Leighton and a 2015 third round draft pick.
Mason has a career record of 96-99-27 with a 2.90 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. He also has 19 career shutouts.
And now he's ready to improve on those numbers as a member of the Flyers.
"My goal is to be the best goaltender that I can be and in my mind that's a No. 1 goaltender," he said. "It's going to take a lot of work but it's something I'm prepared to do and it started a few days ago when the trade went down. It's something I'm looking forward to and I'm just really excited to get it going.
"It's been a tough past couple years in Columbus, but I'm in Philadelphia now and I can leave all that baggage [in Columbus] and start over here. This is a great opportunity. I realize there are a lot of challenges that are in front of me, but as a hockey player that's what you want. You don't want things to always be easy. It makes the good times all that much better."
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