Stanley Cup or bust. That is what every player I spoke to said when asked about last years production and what to expect this year. You might say that answer is cliche, but is it when it comes to this Flyers team? People around the NHL tend to forget who the other Eastern Conference team was in last seasons East Finals against Pittsburgh. This team looked very energetic and excited to get this training camp and 2008 season started, right out of the shoot in practice this morning they were all upbeat and vocal.
The Flyers are coming into this season stronger, faster, and much leaner than they were when they came into camp last year. Steve Downie is said to have lost between 15-20 pounds so he can gain more foot speed and lose some body fat that he carried in the beginning of last year. Simon Gagne as everyone knows by now has lost weight but has also put on a lot of muscle mass, Gags look quite fast and strong on the ice today.
If there was one thing Gagne was excited to talk about it was waiting and anticipating that first hit, "I'm just excited and pratically waiting for it to come, Its not so much the anticipation but its that I want it to happen so we can get it out of the way." A suggestion came to Gagne that maybe Downie could be the one to do it, but Gagne was relieved to say that he was on the same team. Simon continued on and elaborated on the excitement of playing on the first unit with Richards and Briere. " I just found out actually a couple days ago from Johnny (John Stevens) that he was thinking about putting us together and it was really exciting and knowing if we are all healthy it could be fun. "Right now its just a timing thing, for me especially."
Mike Richards who knew right away that as soon as he walked in the room the captaincy questions will bombard him. "I don't think this really changes anything actually, we have such great leaders here already like Danny (Briere), Tims (Timonen) and Simon, this isn't about just one guy." This is such a great honor especially in this city and the history of the organization, but this doesn't change at all what I know I have to do, if I think about this and let it change around how I play I my game, then i'm not focusing on helping my team." Richards was reluctant to talk about the 'C' but knew what the task at hand was.
The Flyers have their own expectations, that is obviously the Stanley Cup, now if all goes well who can say their wrong? Not me. They look as determined and skilled as i've seen for a long time. This could be special, but its only day 1.