With the league lockout clouding their futures, NHL players have been conducting informal, private skates at rinks around the country. On Wednesday, October 3, a group of Philadelphia Flyers and players from other teams practiced in misty Vorhees, New Jersey.
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With a heavy fog advisory in effect, the conditions at the rink looked and felt like a metaphor for the 2012-13 season, at least part of which has been canceled due to the ongoing collective bargaining impasse.
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The Flyers winger was a spectral figure in the gloom.
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The journeyman goaltender, now with the Carolina Hurricanes, joined his former teammates for the skate. Boucher played two stints with the Flyers (1999-2002 and 2009-11).
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The veteran Flyers defenseman was joined by Anaheim Ducks winger Bobby Ryan (rear), who grew up in nearby Cherry Hill, NJ, and has family in the area.
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As the subject of trade rumors during the summer, Ryan has said he wouldn't mind playing for the Flyers, his favorite team when he was a kid. Unlike many of his fellow NHLers, he's not eager to play overseas during the lockout. "I'm going to continue to skate with the guys ... whether it's coming back here (to South Jersey) for a couple weeks at a time ... I think it's important to stay here (in the United States) and be part of the solution and not just run from it," he told the Camden Courier-Post .
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As long as the lockout lasts, staying sharp and in game condition will be a priority for NHL players. Briere, a former All-Star center, is hoping to bounce back from a disappointing, injury plagued 2011-12 season.
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The All-Star winger, who signed a six-year $28.5 million contract extension in August, has been left to ponder playing overseas. (He played in Norway during the 2004-05 lockout.) As one of the Flyers' player representatives, Hartnell has been active in NHLPA matters during the current labor dispute and organizing informal practices.
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The 33-year-old netminder, who has played for seven teams during his 12-season NHL career, was with the Flyers during their run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.
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There hasn't been much to smile about as NHL lockout drags on, but the Flyers blueliners shared a light moment as the fog swirled over the ice.
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The day after this practice, Briere's immediate future became a bit clearer when he signed a deal to play with teammate Claude Giroux for Eisbaren Berlin of the German League. Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds is skating for the German second division club Eispiraten Crimmitschau.
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Fred "The Fog" Shero, the coach who led the team to its only Stanley Cup championships (1974, 1975), would have been a fitting addition to these Flyers legends banners.
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