There's a reason Philadelphia Flyers
defenseman Jaroslav Modry
skated with teammates this morning at the team's practice facility in Voorhees, N.J., despite learning on Wednesday of the death of his 63-year-old father, Jaroslav Sr.
Modry, a veteran of 13 seasons and a nominee for this season's Masterton Trophy for his perseverance and dedication to the game, felt the camaraderie in the dressing room and on the ice would be the most effective therapy for him at this stage in his life. His father's death comes after a year-long battle with colon cancer in his native Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic.
"Getting back on the ice definitely gets my mind off of it," Modry told NHL.com. "You know, I have too many thoughts racing through my head right now and to have an opportunity to concentrate on something as a team feels good. I need to get away from the sad thoughts."
Flyers coach John Stevens
said the organization will give Modry, whose wife and three children now reside in the area, all the time needed when arrangements are confirmed back
"We don't know the details yet, but whatever he needs, he'll get," Stevens said. "It won't be anything within the next day or two, but obviously it'll have to happen sometime in the near future and we'll make sure he's able to take care of the needs of his family before returning back to the Flyers."
Modry, who last spoke to his father on Monday, is unsure when he will return to the Czech Republic to join his mother and brother. Until that time, he plans on doing what his dad would have wanted -- directing his energy to assisting the Flyers in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal round game against the Washington Capitals
tonight (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN) at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. The Flyers lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1.
"I talked to dad two days before his passing," Modry said. "We talked about the kids and how things were going in the playoffs. I know it's going to take time to heal and digest before moving on. The good thing in all this was the fact he was in a lot of pain these last few weeks, but he's in a better place now and no longer has to suffer.
"Right now, I'm just concentrating for a game and it's a big game for our club," he continued. "I have to make certain I'm physically and mentally ready for the challenge but being around the guys has really helped a lot."
"Personally, I offered him my condolences and told him whatever he needed, anybody in this locker room from the players, the coaches and the trainers, would do," Flyers goalie Martin Biron
said. "That's a very tough situation that not a lot of people have gone through and I can't imagine how difficult it is. Mo's been such a big part of this team after coming over from Los Angeles (in a February trade). He's such a great guy and everybody just wants to be there for him."
Center Mike Richards
"You hate to see bad things happen to such good people," Richards said. "I can't imagine what he's feeling right now, but we know he's played with great passion and desire while playing for his dad. We all know how much this game means to him. It's nice to have him around and if there's anything he needs, he knows we're here for him."
Stevens feels fortunate to have had Modry along the blue line during his team's stretch run, as well as the playoffs.
"When you get to know Mo, he's a quality individual," Stevens told NHL.com. "He's got strong character and is a good family man. I think it was great his family was able to move out here from L.A. and I think that's been very helpful. We have such a close-knit team here and care for each other and Mo's one of those guys we care about very much. I think it's important to him right now to have hockey in his life; to come to the rink and do what he loves to do. At the same time, he'll get the time he needs to pay his respects. He's a member of the Flyers family who we care very deeply about and we'll rally around him just like we always do with players within our organization."
Modry was traded to the Flyers by the Kings on Feb. 19.
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.