Flyers: Placid was the perfect place to play

LAKE PLACID – Philadelphia Flyers players and coaches said Lake Placid was a perfect place to hold a training camp on a break between exhibition games before the start of the regular season.

The Flyers trained here and in Saranac Lake Thursday through Sunday.

Head coach Peter Laviolette said the Olympic history of Lake Placid is nice, but on the practical side, the facilities here met the team’s needs well.

“I mean, certainly everybody knows what went on here and the magic that took place here, but from a training point of view, and just keeping it real simple with the Flyers, it’s a great spot,” Laviolette said Friday during a break from practice. “I have two ice sheets. I can march the players back and forth; we don’t have to wait for ice to be made. The ice is always terrific. They do a great job taking care of us and the ice sheets in the building. For five days, we couldn’t ask for a better scenario, really.”

The team used the big Herb Brooks 1980 Arena rink, where a U.S. team surprised the world by beating the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympics, for the players to skate around and work up a sweat. Then they would move to the smaller USA Rink next door to practice systematical skills.

“We wouldn’t want to work D-zone coverage or penalty kill situations in the big rink,” Laviolette said.

Swiss defenseman Mark Streit said he liked the opportunity to bond with his teammates after the team was cut in half in preseason roster trimming. He said he liked being able to walk from the Mirror Lake Inn, where the team was staying, to the Olympic Center for practices, and the two ice surfaces at the Olympic Center work well.

“It’s a perfect setup,” Streit said.

The team went to a movie together on Thursday night and generally spent all their time together to work on team rapport. They were on the ice most of the day Thursday, Friday and Sunday, but took a break on Saturday to get outside and do team-building exercises at Mount Pisgah Ski Center in Saranac Lake.

A Phoenix-based company called Elite Leadership Training LLC rented the Saranac Lake village-owned facility to run the training exercises.

“Saranac Lake is honored to extend its great Adirondack hospitality to the Philadelphia Flyers,” village Mayor Clyde Rabideau said in a press release.

Canadian Center Vincent Lecavalier, who just joined the Flyers after 14 seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, said Friday it was nice to have a full preseason after a labor dispute last year lead to a lockout that delayed the NHL season.

“Last year was very quick, and a lot of guys were skating basically on our own for three, four, five months, so it was quick to get back into games,” Lecavalier said. “So it got weird. But this is nice to get back to our routine and get the practice in first and then get a few exhibition games and then start the season. We’ll feel better that way.”

This isn’t the first time NHL teams have trained in Lake Placid. Since 1985, the Flyers trained here twice before, and the New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, Ottawa Senators, and New York Rangers have all trained at the Olympic Center, too. The Buffalo Sabres held training camps in Lake Placid from 1985 to ’88.

The Boston Bruins stopped in Lake Placid in 2011 for a two-day training break in the midst of a playoff series with Montreal before they went on to win the Stanley Cup. The cup was brought to Lake Placid a few months later for public viewings and drew huge crowds to the Olympic Center.

Laviolette said he’s not sure he’d be able to bring the cup to Lake Placid if the team wins it – for the first time since 1975.

“I certainly would love that,” Laviolette said. “Scheduling always plays into that, and management and what they have to do for our team with regard to the Philadelphia commitments.”

Jon Lundin, spokesman for the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, which manages the Olympic Center, said ORDA welcomes any NHL team, and it’s great to have hockey teams from any level playing in Lake Placid.

“It keeps hockey out on the forefront of Lake Placid,” Lundin said. “We’re still recognized around the world as the place for hockey.”

Laviolette said he’s hopeful the Lake Placid camp will be good for the Flyers.

“This is a great starting point for our team,” Laviolette said.

The Flyers’ regular season starts Wednesday, Oct. 2, with a home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Richard Rosentreter of the Lake?Placid News contributed to this report.