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Upshall to Return; Final Comments on Jones

by Kevin Kurz / Philadelphia Flyers
Also: Gagne remains sidelined with dizziness

Upshall talks about his return, Stevens comments on Upshall return and Jones suspension: Flyers TV

(Voorhees, NJ) – While one established star remains out of the lineup, the Philadelphia Flyers will get one rising star back in the lineup as the team prepares for the next portion of its season-long eight-game road swing.

Scottie Upshall, who has been sidelined all season with a fractured left wrist he sustained in a preseason game, will be back on the ice when Philadelphia travels to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Thursday night (7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet). Upshall has been practicing on a line with Jeff Carter and Sami Kapanen, and his trademark enthusiasm was evident after Tuesday morning’s team practice.
Scottie Upshall eludes Ottawa defenseman Luke Richardson in a preseason game earlier this year . (Getty Images)

“It’s a good feeling to get back into playing some games, getting to put on the jersey again with the guys, and do the whole ritual which I haven’t been able to do in four weeks,” he said. “I’m ready to try it out and I feel great.”

Upshall will continue to wear protection on the wrist in the form of a soft cast, but that doesn’t appear to hamper any of his abilities, according to one of his linemates.

“He’s shooting the puck fine and stickhandling fine, so I don’t think there will be any problems,” said Carter.

Upshall, who was acquired by the Flyers in the Peter Forsberg deal with Nashville last February, made an immediate impact on the club after the trade. He finished with 6 goals and 7 assists in 18 games as a Flyer, and his jubilant celebrations made him a fan favorite almost overnight.

He also had an impact on his head coach, who is looking forward to seeing Upshall back in game action.

“If you look at what he did last year, he came in and gave us all kinds of enthusiasm,” said Stevens. “He played in all situations for us. He’s got great quickness, he’s a responsible player without the puck, and he can see the ice and make plays. He’s a really well rounded, versatile guy that can be moved around.

“He and Carter have been great together in the past, and they’ve looked really good in practice. I’m anxious to see them together in a game.”

Joining a team that has won seven of its first 10 games makes it a little less complicated to jump right in, said Upshall.

“We’ve had a lot of guys stepping up their games and playing great offensively and defensively, and for an injured guy to come back it feels good that our team is winning. It will be a lot easier.”

While Upshall’s return is certainly welcome news, Simon Gagne still did not feel well enough on Tuesday to practice with his teammates. Gagne has been sidelined with dizziness since leaving in the first period of the Flyers’ 3-2 loss in Florida on October 24.

Gagne saw Flyers team physician Dr. Gary Dorshimer on Tuesday morning, and skated by himself for a half hour.

“It’s a little bit better than Day One, but still not quite ready,” he said.

Also of note, Scott Hartnell skated on a line with Danny Briere and Mike Knuble during Tuesday's practice and that trio will likely start the game together in Montreal.

Final Comments on Jones Suspension

While there has been plenty of media attention lately portraying the Flyers as returning to the ways of the Broad Street Bullies, the Randy Jones hit on Patrice Bergeron should not at all be compared to the incidents involving Steve Downie and Jesse Boulerice, said Stevens on Tuesday.

After all, in this case, while it’s unfortunate that Boston’s Patrice Bergeron got hurt, not all of the blame can be placed at the skates of the Philadelphia defenseman.

“With the first two incidents, we’re stepping right out in front and saying we agree with everybody; there’s no room in the game for these things. In terms of the Jones [hit], it’s a totally different situation,” said Stevens.

“For me, he went back to defend a play. The puck got chipped in from the neutral zone and both players were carrying speed to the puck. Jonesy was anticipating [Bergeron] turning into him or away from him, and Patrice ended up going into the boards in a vulnerable position. There was never any intent on Jonesy’s part other than defending the play.
Randy Jones skates away after colliding with Boston's Patrice Bergeron on Saturday, October 27. The Flyers won the game, 2-1. (Getty Images)

“You never want to see a player get injured, but as a player in hockey things happen very quickly. Jonesy went back for the puck like he had many times before, and it was almost the perfect storm where a player got in a vulnerable position. If Jonesy could turn the clock back, he would have liked to stop, but what he expected on the play to happen, didn’t. It wasn’t as if he went in there totally reckless on the play.”

Jones, suspended by the NHL for two games, will be eligible to return on November 5 in a game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The challenge for him is to make sure that this incident does not affect his play moving forward. Jones, along with forward Mike Richards, is arguably the most improved player from last season and has been a key contributor to the team’s quick start.

“It will be in the back of my mind, yes, but [I’m] a professional hockey player,” he said. “Accidents happen, and I have to understand that and get my game back and move on. I can’t let this put me down and I just have to refocus. I can’t let it bother me.”

Jones wishes nothing but the best for Bergeron.

“He’s going to be alright, and hopefully he’ll be back and playing soon.”
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