My group (and the groups appear to be about 70 people per rotation) went on to the Coach Laviolette station for our third session.
Lava started out with some remarks. He said he was happy with the summer the team had and the players acquired. He believes Vincent Lecavalier and Mark Streit are two good leaders and two dynamic players. To put those players in the lineup without having to give up assets…and then have a good care of youth behind them.
Ray Emery was the best goalie available this summer. He was 17-1 last year. And he and Steve Mason are a real solid pair.
After the preseason, he plans to take the team to Lake Placid. One thing that can get lost is team building and bonding. He thinks Lake Placid is a great place to have camp and take time to gather on and of the ice.
Then Lava opened the floor to questions. Someone asked about the Olympics and would it be odd being on a staff with Bylsma. He said it does seem a little bit odd. We just don’t like the Penguins. But they have already had two meetings and this was actually addressed. It’s just a different circumstance. Neither he nor Bylsma is a bad guy and “our jobs bring out the worst in us.”
What is his biggest concern? He feels really good about this year. He likes the moves that were made. He likes the players the Flyers have. By all reports they are rested and working hard.
The players who were on the team last year are “embarrasses.” They are not here to “do our best” but are here to win hockey games. They need to focus on better goal differential. They were not as good offensively last season as they had been the prior two. And the defense wasn’t good either. He sees the summer’s moves as a nice mix of making both better.
Asked about Oliver Lauridsen, he said, “His play will tell you.” They know who he is now.
Last season’s results he chalks up to them not paying well enough. They had a tough schedule to start the season and didn’t do a good job in those first eight games and put themselves behind the eight ball.
What is the plan for their style of play? “Our defense wasn’t good enough last year. A lot of our goals [against] came off of transition or turnovers.” The entire system hasn’t changed. But they made a tweak last year. He wants them to get back to pushing the pace offensively and be more on the attack, but responsibly, and tighter defensively. They need to push at both ends to be better. And they need to be more consistent five on five.
Who will be playing with Vinny? Lava said it is hard to get into this without training camp and seeing them playing together. For example, he hadn’t thought Jagr and Giroux would be a fit until training camp, and they had tremendous chemistry. It is possible they’ll slide Lecavalier and Giroux out together sometimes, not always. But maybe this will be Brayden Schenn’s breakout year.
He’s seen Meszaros and he’s skating and looks good. He’s had four surgeries in the past two years but was outstanding before that. If he comes back healthy that’s a good thing for the Flyers.
Nick Cousins is “a tremendous junior player. We hope young players come in to camp and knock our doors down. He’s a two-way center who can get under other teams’ skin.”
Asked about the Flyers propensity for sluggish starts, Lava said, “I’m not sure I agree. I think when we came out sluggish, we were sluggish for the full 60 minutes.”