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Quick Hits: Gandler, AMac, TIFH and More

August 23, 2019, 6:31 AM ET [70 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Aug. 23, 2019

1) Speaking to Russian sports outlet Sport Express, veteran hockey agent Mark Gandler indirectly denied a report from Columbus Dispatch writer Brian Hedger that he had made a salary cap ask of $10 million for his unsigned restricted free agent client Ivan Provorov.

Gandler said to Sport Express writer Mikhail Zislis (via a Google Translate version of the Russian article), "As for Ivan Provorov, I will tell you this: I do not even want to comment on the delusional statements and rumors from the press and what is written on the Internet. I do not see any point in this. I can say that the general manager [Chuck Fletcher] and I know the whole truth."

The agent did not comment on how close or far away the two sides are from reaching an agreement. Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr told NHL Network Radio earlier this week that the organization remains hopeful of getting agreements done with both Provorov and Travis Konecny before the start of training camp.

2) Former Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who spent portions of six seasons with the team before having the final season of his contract bought out this summer, has been invited to the Calgary Flames training camp on a professional tryout (PTO) basis. MacDonald will turn 33 on Sept. 7.

MacDonald, a popular and well-respected figure among teammates and coaches but an oft-maligned player among the Flyers fanbase, served as an alternate captain for the Flyers in recent years. He came back several weeks ahead of schedule from a preseason injury last year, was ineffective and eventually lost his starting job in the Flyers lineup. He dressed in 47 games last season and 291 for his regular season career with the club. MacDonald was awarded the 2018-19 Yanick Dupre Memorial Class Guy Award by the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Back in 2013-14, which he split between the New York Islanders and Flyers, MacDonald led the NHL in blocked shots (242) and ranked among the NHL's ice-time leaders. Early in the season, then Islanders GM Garth Snow declined trade offers for the impending unrestricted free agent until it became clear that the late Charles Wang was not willing to pay anything close to the open-market price to retain the player. At the time, MacDonald was on an NHL minimum ($550,000 at the time) contract and his open-market price tag was going to be roughly a ten-fold raise.

On March 4, 2014, the Flyers acquired the 27-year-old MacDonald in exchange for a 2014 second-round pick (Ilya Sorokin), a 2015 second-round pick (flipped to Boston in the Johnny Boychuk trade and used by the Bruins to select Brandon Carlo) and minor leaguer Matt Mangene. On April 15, the Flyers signed MacDonald to a six-year, $30 million contract extension to pre-empt his unrestricted free agency.

While it was then-GM Paul Holmgren who made the trade to acquire MacDonald, and was in favor of re-signing the player, it was heir-apparent GM Ron Hextall (who would not be officially promoted to GM until May 7 but was being phased in behind the scenes) who negotiated the extension with MacDonald's agent. At the time, both Holmgren and Hextall were agreed that MacDonald could provide some blueline stability for a number of years while the organization was waiting for a farm system restock and increase in developmental coaching infrastructure to filter upward to the NHL. The build-from-within process started on the blueline with the third-round selection of Shayne Gostisbehere in 2012, the first-round selection of Samuel Morin in 2013, the second-round selection of Robert Hägg the same year and subsequently, the first-round selections of Travis Sanheim in 2014 and Ivan Provorov in 2015.

MacDonald played the first five years of the new contract. After a rough 2014-15 season and tough training camp in Sept 2015, he was waived and demoted to the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms for much of the 2015-16 season before returning to the Flyers. He returned to the big clob for the latter portion of that season and the three campaigns that followed.

3) Today in Flyers History: An undrafted player who worked his way up from the Central Hockey League and ECHL rungs of the lower minor leagues into an AHL opportunity with the Philadelphia Phantoms, tough guy forward Riley Cote earned a regular lineup spot for coach John Stevens' team and won a Calder Cup in 2004-05. On Aug. 23, 2005, the Flyers rewarded unrestricted free agent Cote with a two-way NHL contract. Two seasons later, he made his NHL debut against the Islanders on March 24, 2007. Cote went on to spend the next three seasons in the NHL with Philadelphia.

In Jay Greenberg's Flyers at 50, Paul Holmgren recalled Cote's early days with the Phantoms and how he turned his bounceback from a lost fight into a means of impressing his coach and GM.

"We have a game against Hamilton and it’s late in the game. We’re winning, I think, 6-0. We were playing at the Wells Fargo Center. Riley had only played a couple shifts that game and he went out there in the final minute. John Stevens put him out there against [Raitis] Ivanans, who was a [6-foot-5, 240-pound] beast. There's 30 seconds left in the game, and Riley is lined up at the face-off against Ivanans and decides to fight him. It was ugly; a lopsided ass-kicking. Ivanans thrashed him," Holmgren recalled.

"It was an inauspicious start for Riley as a tough guy for the Phantoms. But he went right back at it, which isn't easy mentally. He worked hard. Worked to become a better hockey player, do the right things along the boards when he skated a shift. He won us over and ingratiated himself with everyone. We all liked him. And when he came up for his first [full] season, Johnny put Riley on a line with Jesse Boulerice, and I think it helped us have a little more jam. We had skill guys, like Danny [Briere], [Jeff] Carter, [Mike] Richards and [Joffrey] Lupul. We had Hartsy [Scott Hartnell] and we had Mike Knuble as power forwards. So we added Riley and Jesse on the fourth line to support those guys with some toughness and muscle, and I think it gave us a boost right out of the gates."

Twelve years later, of course, teams are no longer constructed that way. A player such as Cote would be unlikely to see a single game today in an NHL that is largely predicated on speed and skill and in which the old-fashioned enforcer role is now extinct. Nevertheless, Cote earned each and every one of his 156 NHL regular season appearances and three playoff games the hardest way possible.

On Feb. 17, 2008, Riley Cote scored what would be his only goal in the NHL; taking a cross-ice pass from R.J. Umberger and scoring on shot from the left circle late in a 5-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

4) Aug. 23 Flyers Alumni birthday: Dave Gardner (1952).
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