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Quick Hits: RIP Lou Angotti, Rookie Camp, Flyers Daily and More

September 17, 2021, 6:52 AM ET [136 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
RIP Lou Angotti

A veteran of 653 NHL regular season games and 65 Stanley Cup playoff games, Lou Angotti was a savvy two-way forward who served as the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers during the team's inaugural 1967-68 season, has passed away at the age of 83.

Angotti exemplified the hard-working and competitive identity that coach Keith Allen encouraged from his team. As a Flyer, Angotti produced 12 goals, a team-high 37 assists, 49 points, 35 penalty minutes and a plus-four rating as the team won the Western Division. He dressed in all seven games of the Flyers' seven-game loss to the St. Louis Blues in the 1968 Stanley Cup Quarterfinals. Although he stood only 5-foot-9 and weighed 170 pounds, Angotti "played big" on the ice.

Born January 16, 1938 in Toronto, Angotti played junior hockey in his hometown and then played collegiate hockey for Michigan Tech before embarking on a pro career. Angotti played for the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks before the Flyers selected him from Chicago in the 1967 Expansion Draft.

Flyers Hall of Fame defenseman Joe Watson, a teammate on the 1967-68 squad, remembers Angotti fondly.

"Lou was a smart player and a fine captain. It was a tough job for anyone, because we were an all-new team with 20 guys who had come from six different organizations. We had a good coach in Keith Allen, but every coach needs players who buy in to what he preaches.We didn't have a lot of scoring, but he had good goaltending and Keith coached us to play a disciplined and defensively smart style. Lou really helped set that tone," Watson recalls.

"He was also a really good captain off the ice. Lou and his wife lived in Delaware County -- I think in Springfield -- and they hosted a lot of team parties. Everyone was included. I think that's important. We became a very close-knit team that first season, and things like that were part of what brought us together as a team."

After losing each of the first two games of their inaugural season, the Flyers collected the first win in franchise history on Oct. 18, 1967: a 2-1 road win over the St. Louis Blues. Angotti's goal in the final 35 seconds of the second period knotted the score at 1-1 and set the tone for a strong third period that saw the late Ed Hoekstra put the Flyers ahead to stay.

In late December to early January of that season, with several players ailing, Angotti stepped up the offensive side of his game and rattled off 15 points (3g,12 a) in a seven-game span.Most notably, Angotti had a three-assist game and a fight with Real Lemieux in a 9-1 rout of the LA Kings at the Spectrum on Dec. 31. On Jan. 18, the team captain posted a goal and two assists in a 4-2 win at home against the Minnesota North Stars.

Apart from winning the Western Division, which consisted entirely of the six new first-year teams, the overachieving Flyers were the only expansion team to beat each of the "Original Six" teams at least once during the 1967-68 season. During the playoffs, Angotti was held off the score sheet but was heavily relied upon by Allen. The Flyers lost a seven-game war of a series to St. Louis.

"All of us liked Lou as a person and we all respected him as a player and leader," Watson recalls. "He could make us laugh, too, without meaning to. He never carried a wallet, so he carried all his money rolled up in his sock. He'd count it about 10 times a day, too, to make sure it was all there. He'd count it before he went to the rink, at the rink before he put on his uniform, and when he put his street clothes back on afterwards. I never saw that before."

Following the 1967-68 season, Flyers general manager Bud Poile traded Angotti to the Blues. On June 11, 1968, the Flyers dealt Angotti and Ian Campbell to St. Louis in exchange for Darryl Edestrand and Gerry Melnyk. The Penguins promptly flipped now-former Flyers captain Angotti to the Penguins for their captain, Ab McDonald. Melnyk was forced to retire due to a mild heart attack before ever playing a game for the Flyers but was hired instead as amateur scout became one of the NHL's most prolific and successful talent identifiers over the course of his post-playing career.

Angotti subsequently spent second tours of duty with Chicago and the Rangers as well as stints in Pittsburgh and St. Louis in an NHL career that lasted through 1973-74 (spending the latter part of the season as a player-coach with the Blues). After his coaching stint with the Blues ended early in the 1974-75 season, Angotti briefly played in the fledgling World Hockey Association with the Chicago Cougars. In 1983-84, he returned to the NHL for one season as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"He never had teams to coach that had any talent on the roster or desire to win, which was a real shame," Watson said. "Louie would have been a good NHL coach if there were a few more guys on those teams who could play."


Rookie Camp: Day 1 Wrapup, Day 2 Preview

With Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault watching from a perch above the rink, Ian Laperriere ran the drills during the first day of Rookie Camp in Voorhees on Thursday. The emphasis was on neutral zone play. Day 2 will focus on the forecheck.

The most humorous moment of the first day of camp came after Wade Allison led off the post-practice media availability. When Allison finished, he took a seat among the reporters in the room while Morgan Frost came up to the podium. Allison proceeded to ask Frost about his off-season workouts and gained muscle mass, prompting Frost to joking reply, "You want me to take my shirt off?"

For what it's worth, Frost reported that he currently weighs just over 190 pounds. The center said that it's his goal to maintain that weight as best as he possibly can. After Allison and Frost spoke, 2021 draftee Brian Zanetti and camp invite J.R. Avon had their turns at the podium.

The following is a transcript of Laperriere's comments on the first day of camp, courtesy of the Flyers' Allie Samuelsson.

I know you hadn’t had much of a chance to see Brian Zanetti, but has he made any kind of impression?

Yeah, especially today. He did a couple of things that we asked him to do. We asked them to do system-wise. For me, it's only a day. We do have little videos. That's one of the kids who pick up really quick on what we're telling him to do, the details, sticks and everything. I was impressed. It's funny you mentioned him because he's one of the kids that stood out for me today.

What do you think he has to do? Obviously, he's got to bulk up a little bit.

Like all those kids have to. They are kids. Maturity. Just need to keep doing what they're doing. Those kids have been here for weeks since development camp. They’re skating. They see the gym and they train like professionals. You want them to become professionals, but you can’t just jump a step. That’s the step they're taking. They're here. They’re doing the work. They see the Claude Giroux’s of this world and how they train and everything. They learn from it. I feel like it's going to take time with most of those kids. You don’t have any Connor McDavid, who’s going to take that step next year. It's just normal for them to learn every day. That's what it takes to become a pro.

What have you seen from Morgan? He told us that his break since the injury is the longest that he’s had since he started playing the sport. How has he bounced back and looked so far

It's funny you mentioned him. I just grabbed him in the gym there and he looks bigger. Again, what I'm looking for when I'm out there, it's the details what they do or asking them to do. Good stick position. Re-load inside the dots. He's doing it. That's why I grabbed him in the gym. I’m like, you're doing everything I'm asking you to do and keep doing that. He's anxious to play games. He's been out for so long. It's going to be tough for him not playing but he's putting the work in. Games are going to come fast for him, but so far, he looks great. He looks healthy. He looks excited. If he can become the player everybody thinks he can, it's going to help the organization.

What do you think the mindset has to be for those guys that are trying to crack the lineup, like Laczynski and Allison? Given what Chuck said about breaking the lineup, how experience, how veteran the lineup that Chuck put together for the NHL club team, knowing that that's the ultimate goal is to try to get there this season?

I sure hope so. Well, it should be a motivation. I know when I broke in when I was 20, I had older guys in front of me. I beat some of those guys to make my place. It's a tough business we're in and they know that. That's why most of those kids you just named were here all summer, to put the work in. I've been here for 12 years and I know it goes a long way when you do spend your summers here. We have a great facility here, obviously, and we have great trainers. We have great nutritionists. We have great everything.

For them to recognize that and spend their summers here, it goes a long way. I'm not saying they're going to beat those guys in camp. If down the road there's injuries, they might have a chance, or they might be those guys at camp. Who knows? If there’s injuries, the organization knows that they did the work, and they spent their summers here. I’ve always said, like a kid who didn't spend his summers over here and a kid that did spend summer and they're the same player. They're going to take the kid that spent his summers here and I can't blame the organization to do that. They showed that they want to be a Flyer. Again, the kids that you just named, they all did it and I tip my hat to them

Who stood out that stayed here, that chose to work here with the team's resource?

Tanner Laczynski. He spent most of his summer. He trained and he looks good out there. That's a kid that realized that he’s on the bubble. All the moves that Chuck did, and I think they were great move for the organization. He realized that like ‘to give myself a better chance to make this team or to be the first one called up, I need to do to the work and spend my summers here.’ That's what he did.

What have you seen out of Elliot Desnoyers like out of his skating and his offense?

The funny thing is I played with his dad all my life growing up. It's funny to see him. That's how old I am. He had surgeries and everything, but I'll give him that he spends his whole summer, rehabbing, doing the work on the ice and doing some skill development. He’s that new generation. They want that. They're hungry about that, to do a little stuff that I didn't do. Obviously, he's French-Canadian like I am. I talked to him in French. It's kind of nice. Talk about that and mom and everything.

To answer your question, I was impressed just the fact that he spent the summer, doing his rehab. He didn’t have to, but he did. When he had a chance to go on the ice, he still does like after with the development guys. He goes out there and work on his skills. Obviously, he's going to go back to junior. In the future, he’s not a big guy but because he does everything right, that's a kid I wouldn't be surprised that will be sitting here [in the NHL] in five years. He’ll make the big team or he'll be a dominant player in the American League.

Is his Dad calling you, asking for updates?

This summer I did send a picture of me and Elliot together. We sent it to his dad. His dad was a defenseman that was a tough guy. It’s just funny how life is though. I'm here and his son gets drafted for Flyers. I work for the Flyers and I'm probably going to coach him next year. It's kind of funny, but it's all good.

Do you think Max Sushko will be ready?

I don't know. That's above me. I'm going to coach the players I have. I just don't know. I'm not smart enough to deal with those injuries. I don’t know.

You were around Cam York a little bit last year. What have you learned about him?

He's a workhorse. I'll give him that. He does his work. How many games did he play for us last year? Just three. He played really well for us. Some kids would have went back home and felt comfortable. He didn’t do that. You can tell just by the way he skates, the ways he's loud out there. Not loud, but he’s engaged. That's what I was looking for. He's very engaged out there. That's another kid. I don't know if he put weight on, but he does look like it. When you see that because they did put the work. He goes back to California; he trains up there and he's got a great group of trainers up in Orange County that trains in the right way. You can tell on the ice. He might have a surprising camp, too.

Isaac Ratcliffe had a tough year. What do you see with him now? Does he look 100% to you?

He looks great. He's such a big kid. If he can ever put everything together, he's going to have a chance to play for the big club. Yeah, it was a tough year for him last year. I think spleen or something crazy like that. I'm not sure what was the injury. It was right at this time of the year last year that he hurt himself, right before we started camp. Great kid. Listens. All those kids, I don’t have any problems so far with any of those kids. The meetings we have and everything when we go on the ice, that new generation, they want to know. They want to learn. I'm big on that. I’m a pretty easy-going guy. If you have a question asked me and I have a great staff. I want them to use us. Same with Ratcliffe today, he came on the ice and a couple system things he wasn't sure. He came to me and asked. That I like. He's engaged. He wants to get better individually, and he wants us to do well.

Getting back to Zanetti for a minute. Of all the defenseman in camp, he had the most points last year. Is there sort of an offensive side of his game that you see?

I'll be honest with you; I can make stuff up if you want. I can and will all day. It was day one today. I was impressed about the details. That's what I'm looking for. Like I'm not really looking for if he's going to score. For me, I'm teaching them stuff before we go on the ice. When we go on the ice, I see if they respond to what I just taught them in their locker room there. Some asked me a question. That's why I notice out of it. Good stick positioning. He's doing what I'm asking him to do so far. It's day one. I'm just happy he listens to me. We'll see about tomorrow. Maybe he'll stop listening tomorrow.

What are you looking for at the start of a camp like this and the days to come?

Details, every day. For me at the American League level, the NHL level, you know what's the difference between an okay team and a great team. It's the details. We all play the same systems. Every team, like not every. There are only few systems in the neutral zone and in the defensive zone. At the end of the day, what makes a good team from an okay team is the details. That's what I'm going to teach those kids in the minors.

I'm going to repeat, repeat, repeat. I got two teenage boys at home, so I know how to deal with teenage kids. Now I'm going to have 23 in the minors and I'm really looking forward to it. You're asking me about the next couple days. Today we worked on neutral zone. Tomorrow is going to be forecheck. My thinking when they told me I was going to run rookie camp, I'm going to try to help them out. Give them little pointers that went AV is looking for here, like system-wise and details to help them succeed in those two games in a weekend.

Their camp started. That's what I told them. It's not rookie camp, it's training camp. It's not development camp, it’s camp. That's your chance to make a good first impression for a lot of those kids that AV never saw. Chuck saw playing in junior. It’s their chance to shine. My job, I feel right now is to help them and give them couple pointers for those kids who have success.

When AV first got hired and you were saying in terms of preparation, he's one of the most-thorough coaches you've ever been around when it comes to every single detail of the game. How do you think the past two years under him has at all impacted the way you've chosen to approach?

For sure. He ran his meetings last week and had meetings during the summer. I did similar to what he does. He's got 700 wins in this game. He must do something right. For me, all the coaches I coached with I'm learning a little bit. AV is the most successful one I coached with and I took in a lot. Just his preparation in the summer to the preparation during the season, for practices, for games and everything. I will be myself and have my own way to do things. I took a lot out of AV and obviously 700 wins, I think he did a lot of good.

Quick Hits: Sept. 17, 2021

1) In today's edition of Flyers Daily on the Flyers Broadcast Network, Jason Mytetus and I discuss the passing of Lou Angotti and why he was such an important player in shaping the Flyers' early identity despite spending only one season with the team. We also talk about the first day of Rookie Camp. In the third segment, we run down the Flyers' home schedule for the first month of the regular season -- hosting Vancouver, Dave Hakstol's Seattle Kraken, the Boston Bruins, and the Florida Panthers -- and the specific tests that each of those games figure to present. To listen to the 30-minute episode, click here.

2) Yesterday, the Flyers announced a list of special "theme nights" for the 2021-22 regular season:

Saturday, November 20, vs. Boston – Star Wars Night
Sunday, December 5 vs. Tampa Bay – Shore Night
Saturday, December 18, vs. Ottawa – Holiday Spectacular
Thursday, January 20, vs. Columbus – Jawn Night
Saturday, March 5, vs. Chicago – Marvel Super Hero Night
Thursday, March 17, vs. Nashville – St. Patrick’s Da

Details for annual events like Pride Night, Military Appreciation Night, and Hockey Fights Cancer Night will be announced in the coming weeks.

3) Flyers Alum birthday: Marc-Andre Bourdon

Big and aggressive defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon was born Sept. 17, 1989 in St. Hyancinthe, Quebec. Drafted by the Flyers in the third round (67th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft, the six-foot, 225-pound Bourdon was a high-scoring and punishing physical presence at the QMJHL level for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and the Rimouski Oceanic.

When Bourdon turned pro, he focused more on being a defensive defenseman as he worked to smooth out his skating and take fewer risks. He spent his first two pro seasons (2009-10 and 2010-11) primarily in the American Hockey League with the Adirondack Phantoms but also played in five regular season games and 10 playoff games for the ECHL' Greenville Road Warriors in 2010-11.

Bourdon enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2011-12, graduating from the AHL to the Flyers NHL roster. He held his own at the top level in 45 regular season games but was severely set back by the first of a series of concussions.

Unfortunately, Bourdon struggled the rest of his career with post-concussion syndrome and sustained several additional concussions while playing for the AHL's Phantoms in comeback bids. He was compelled to retire at age 25.

Bourdon, a born-again Christian, accepted a post as an assistant coach for Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team after his retirement as an active player. Away from the ice, enrolled in courses with a focus in Exercise Science and Nutrition. Bourdon also became an active member of Hockey Ministries International.

In 2016-17, Bourdon became an assistant coach for his old junior team, the QMJHL's Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He was promoted to head coach for the 2019-20 season, posting a 29-30-4 record. Thereafter, he focused on the managerial side of hockey, serving as assistant general manager and director of scouting. He assumed the general manager's role after last season and will serve in that role for the upcoming 2021-22 campaign.
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