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Quick Hits: Reading Royals, NHL Return to Play, HOF Week, TIFH

November 19, 2020, 10:24 AM ET [65 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Quick Hits: November 19, 2020

1) The ECHL announced on Wednesday that the entire North Division, including the Flyers-affiliated Reading Royals and the Comcast-Spectacor owned Maine Mariners (New York Rangers affiliate),are voluntarily suspending operations for the entire 2020-21 season during the COVID-19 pandemic and given the uncertainty of ticket revenues from fan access. There is also a border-crossing issue between the United States and Canada.

The other teams in the North Division are the Adirondack Thunder (New Jersey Devils), Worcester Railers (New York Islanders), Brampton Beast (Ottawa Senators) and the Newfoundland Growlers, (Toronto Maple Leafs). Additionally, two other teams, the Atlanta Gladiators (Boston Bruins) and the Norfolk Admirals (no NHL affiliation) have also opted out this season.

Last season, various Flyers-affiliated prospects including Matthew Strome, Pascal Laberge and goalies Kirill Ustimenko and Felix Sandstrom, spent time with Reading as well as in the American Hockey League with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. That will not be an option this coming season.

2) According to reports by Elliotte Friedman and Larry Brooks, the National Hockey League has informed the NHL Players Association that they want players to accept an additional 13 percent salary deferral for 2020-21 on top of the 10 percent deferral that was agreed upon over the summer when the Collective Bargaining Agreement was extended for six years. If the union accepts the additional deferral, NHL players will only immediately receive 61.6 percent of their gross play for the 2020-21 NHL season and the rest will come in yet-to-be negotiated installments.

Yesterday, there was a large-scale NHLPA conference call to discuss their next steps. As expected, some players were more receptive to the idea than others, especially given the fact that the NHL is still officially planning to start the regular season on January 1 (with training camps starting in mid-December). Some players would agree to additional deferrals if the 2020-21 season itself is at stake, whereas others are angered by the notion of additional concessions after the CBA was already agreed to.

3)Flyers Hall of Fame Week continues today on Flyers Broadcast Network with an interview Jason Myrtetus did on Tuesday with Rod Brind'Amour. Later today, Jason and I are interviewing Mark Howe and tomorrow we're speaking to Bill Barber (I will post the links when the podcasts go live).
On the Flyers official website, look today for "case for Gagne" article on Simon Gagne's candidacy for Flyers Hall of Fame induction. That will be followed by a "case for Recchi" article on Mark Recchi's candidacy. Earlier this week, we had a "case for Tocchet" article and Jason and I interviewed Dave Poulin for yesterday's episode of Flyers Daily.

4) Nov. 19 Flyers Alumni birthday: Two-stint Flyers Alum defenseman was born Nov. 19, 1971 in Yaroslavl, Russia. Yushkevich brought a hard-hitting warrior's mentality to the game and was also a well-liked player off the ice who fit in quickly with North American as well as European teammates. Nicknamed "the Russian Tank," the 5-foot-11, 202-pound defender was one of the team's most feared body checkers and also also possesed a heavy righthanded shot.

Drafted by the Flyers with 122nd overall pick of the 1991 NHL Draft, Yushkevich made an immediate impact upon his arrival to North America one year later. As a Flyers rookie in 1992-93, Yushkevich chipped in 32 points (five goals, 27 assists), 71 penalty minutes and was plus-12 at even strength for a team that missed the playoffs. Before long, Yushkevich formed half of the team's top defensive pairing along with Garry Galley.

Yushkevich's first stint with the Flyers lasted three seasons. After the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, the Flyers traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a package of draft picks that included a first-round selection in 1996 (Dainius Zubrus) and a 1997 second-round selection (Jean-Marc Pelletier).

Eight years after the deal with Toronto, as the Flyers prepared for the stretch drive and playoffs of the 2002-03 season, the club reacquired impending unrestricted free agent Yushkevich from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a 2003 fourth-round pick and a 2004 seventh-rounder. Now 32 years old, Yushkevich was outstanding down the stretch drive (two goals, four points, plus-seven in 18 games) and especially in 13 playoff games (one goal, five points, plus-seven).

The Flyers hoped to re-sign Yushkevich to a new contract heading into the summer of 2003 but the player elected to return to Russia. On June 30, one day before the start of free agency, the Flyers traded what was left of Yushkevich's exclusive negotiating rights window to the Washington Capitals for a 2004 seventh-round pick; later transfered back to the Caps and used for selecting forward Andrew Gordon. Rather than returning to the NHL, Yushkevich joined Russian team, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.

Yushkevich played 215 regular season games of his 786-game NHL regular season career as a member of the Flyers. He dressed in 15 playoff games in 1995 and 13 games in 2003.

Yushkevich did not find the initial transition back to life in Russia easy, especially with his first wife, Oksana, and their triplets remaining in California. He played for five different teams in six years in the Russian Super League (which restructured in 2008-09 into the Kontinental Hockey League). Yushkevich briefly retired in 2008, following Oksana's untimely death, to take care of the 10-year-old triplets. He returned to play the next season and retired for good after playing the 2009-10 season in Finland. Yushkevich subsequently embarked upon a coaching career.

In 2015-16, after beginning the season as the team's assistant coach, Yushkevich was named head coach of KHL team Severstal Cherepovets. The announcement of his appointment was made on Oct. 29, 2015 and lasted the rest of that season. Previously, Yushkevich had KHL head coaching tenures with Sibir Novosibirsk and Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk. Since 2017-18, Yushkevich has been an assistant coach with CSKA Moscow.

Yushkevich's son, also named Dmitri, elected to pursue a hockey career of his own. A right-handed defenseman, the younger Yushkevich currently plays for Zvezda Moscow at the minor-league VHL level.

5) Today in Flyers History: First Fighting Majors in Franchise History (Nov. 19, 1967)

he team that later came to be known as the Broad Street Bullies were not especially aggressive in their earliest years of existence. Through the first 15 games of their inaugural 1967-68 season, the Philadelphia Flyers did not engage in a single full-blown fight. There were, of course, scrums and various confrontations along the way, but nothing that escalated to the point of fighting majors.

That changed in game 16, as the Flyers hosted the rough-and-tumble St. Louis Blues - the team that would soon become the new expansion team's earliest archrival - at the Philadelphia Spectrum. In a harbinger of many fierce battles to come between the soon-to-be archrivals, a multi-player fight -- Pat Hannigan and Larry Zeidel on the Philadelphia side, Gordon Kannegiesser and Noel Picard for St, Louis -- erupted immediately after the final horn.

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