After hopping on a flight midday on Wednesday, Valtteri Filppula was introduced to his new team, teammates and a new ice surface as he joined the Flyers for their morning skate at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ.
"It's always a little bit of a surprise when it happens," said Filppula, who had to approve the deal of coming to the Flyers. "I think this is a good team and good organization. I had a couple of friends who played in the organization and said a lot of good things, so it was easy to put on the list."
Filppula named former defenseman Kimmo Timonen and forward Ville Leino among those he talked to.
An optional skate saw Filppula immediate paired with Jake Voracek and Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol revealed that he would go in the middle of Voracek and Brayden Schenn for tonight's game against visiting Panthers, but emphasized tonight is important to get him into a role 5-on-5 first and foremost.
"I think the most important thing tonight is get him into the mix and roll 5-on-5," said Hakstol. "We know he has ability on both sides of special teams. That might be a day or two down the road, but we'll see how tonight goes. Certainly on PK side there's a possibility he'll assume part of the responsibilities there."
Added Hakstol: "He's a man that's had the ultimate success. He's won the Stanley Cup and has certainly been a good player in the league a long time and as turbulent of a 24-hours as he's had just in talking with him, he's got a very quiet confidence about him."
No matter where and in what situation he plays, Filppula is just happy to get back into a game situation, which he feels will ease his transition to the team.
"I'm excited to get playing. It's nice that there's a game already today and to get back into a normal game routine."
As for blending into a different style of play under a new head coach, Filppula doesn't seem concerned having already been on two different teams in his NHL career.
"There are details that are different and I'm sure it will be a little while to get used to that, but at the end of the day everybody plays fairly the same way so I'm confident and hopefully everything goes well."
For Filppula's first full interview as a Flyer, watch below…
Steve Mason was first off the ice at the morning skate, indicating that he will get his second straight start after he stopped all 33 shots to shut out the Avalanche on Tuesday.
This will be Mason's third start against the Panthers this year after earning wins in the first meetings where he stopped a combined 80 of 83 shots. Lifetime against the Panthers, Mason owns a 1.94 GAA and .941 save percentage to go along with a 9-3-2 record in 14 appearances.
BELLEMARE HONORED WITH AN 'A'
After all the questions faced from his normal morning skate media availability, Hakstol announced to the group of reporters that the club has selected forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to serve as the alternate captain.
Defenseman Mark Streit, who held the 'A' since the 2014-15 season, was a part of the Filppula trade leaving the vacancy open alongside Wayne Simmonds and captain Claude Giroux.
"Belly is a guy that embodies all of the characteristics and traits of a Flyer," added Hakstol. "There's certainly other guys in this locker room that are great leaders who will continue to lead with or without a letter, but Belly's going to be a great addition to our captaincy."
Bellemare, who also inked a multi-year contract extension on Wednesday, was certainly emotional when he was told the news from the head coach and sees it as a tremendous honor to play for the Orange & Black, let alone be on the leadership group.
"Obviously proud and super-happy to represent the team this way," said Bellemare. "To be able to wear the 'A'… I'm a French guy… I came in the league really late and I don't expect to stay long and I just try to play my way and work for the team. There are a lot of things that happened this week. My mom is here and there is no better timing [for this] really."
Bellemare is in his third season with the club after spending five years in the Swedish Elite League and has played on numerous occasions with the French National team, where he has also worn a letter.
"By missing Streiter, it's going to be really tough to replace that kind of voice and person in the locker room," added Bellemare. "I'm taking this role now, I've had this role before and I'm really proud to be able to challenge myself to be better for this team."