understands the importance of having an experienced defenseman on the blue line when a team is in the thick of a playoff chase.
So does Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren, who, on Tuesday, sent a third-round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft to the Los Angeles Kings for the rights to the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Modry, who is earning $1.2 million this season. In the process, Holmgren provided his team an insurance policy along the blue line for the stretch run.
"Jaroslav is a steady, two-way defenseman that will bring us leadership and experience," admitted Holmgren.
Modry, a veteran of 13 NHL seasons who previously spent time with New Jersey, Ottawa, Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles, made his Flyers debut Thursday night in a 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Modry, who took 27 shifts and earned just over 19 minutes of ice time, was paired with rookie Ryan Parent much of the night while also playing a role on the penalty-killing unit.
"Experience makes a huge difference this time of year," Modry told NHL.com. "If I knew 10 years ago what I know now, I would definitely have done things a little differently, but it's a learning process. I intend on giving the younger guys tips here and there and certainly establishing myself on defense. There are things not available on video that you can only learn through experience and I feel I've been through a lot in my career. When someone needs help, I'll do everything I can to put them on the right track."
Modry was one of only two regular starters for the Kings (center Derek Armstrong the other) with a positive plus-minus rating (plus-2) at the time of the deal. His presence will help bolster a defense unit in Philadelphia that has yielded 24 goals in its last seven games -- all losses. One day after acquiring Modry, Holmgren also dealt 27-year-old defenseman Jim Vandermeer, who is in the final year of a $1.225 million contract, to Calgary for a third-round pick in 2009.
"Because I just got here, it's tough for me to comment on what the team has been going through lately, but I do know that there is a fine line between winning and losing in this League," Modry said. "One little mistake can cost you a game, so to break out of a slump you need to play the perfect game by eliminating mistakes in the back end and show some patience. It's one of those things where you just have to stay the course and eventually things will break your way."
Flyers coach John Stevens believes the 36-year-old Czech will be a perfect fit.
"He's really a well-rounded player," Stevens said. "He's got a lot of experience and moves well, is a good passer and has a good awareness away from the puck. First and foremost, I see him performing and having success against the opposition's top line and he'll certainly play a part on our penalty-killing unit."
Modry, who compiled six points (five assists) and 42 penalty minutes in 61 games with the Kings, agreed with Stevens' assessment.
"I bring experience, intensity and I'm able to move the puck well," he said. "I am able to play against the best players from the other team, and keep them from scoring goals. I can step up and play special teams, too, and be able to chip in and do the right stuff out there."
Flyers captain Jason Smith, who played with Modry for two seasons in New Jersey (1993-95), is confident the 2002 NHL All-Star will adapt quickly to hockey back on the East Coast.
"Obviously he's a great competitor, skilled with the puck and moves well," Smith said. "I think he's got experience that we can use on our back end, and his awareness and ability to play at a high level is something that's really going to help this team."
Modry, who was drafted by the Devils in the ninth round (179th overall) of the 1990 Entry Draft, was excited to be reunited with Smith.
"It helps when you know someone on the team you've been traded to, especially as you're breaking in and reaching out to all your new teammates," Modry said. "But it definitely put me at ease having Jason there and I know it'll just be a matter of time before I begin fitting in and am able to show the team what I can do to help."
According to Smith, players didn't view the trade as a desperation move despite the fact the Flyers are currently mired in a season-high nine-game winless streak (0-8-1).
"I think the trades may have surprised a few of the younger guys, but I think as you gain more experience in dealing with the trade deadline, you learn to accept the fact this is a business," Smith said. "Players move and friends leave the dressing room, but you just kind of get used to it."
Said Modry: "Even if you see it coming, being traded still is not comfortable. But it's part of the game and it's part of the business. I feel fortunate to be with a great organization with a rich hockey history."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.