"There is a real buzz in the organization," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Everybody in the organization - the coaches, the players that were here prelockout, everybody - that I talk to is excited for a number of reasons.''
First, Hitchcock spoke of the Flyers' playoff performance last season, when they advanced to Game 7 of the conference finals before falling to Tampa Bay.
"The way we finished up, everybody felt like we made some giant steps in becoming a championship team,'' he said. "Secondly, every player I talk to recognizes what the Phantoms did, and when you see players who are young, skilled and enthusiastic, it certainly has the Flyers' coaching staff and all the players excited."
As well as the marketing staff. One of the biggest challenges in getting fans back will be regaining their interest. In that regard, the Flyers should be aided by their young talent base that fueled the Phantoms.
Their top prospects, centers Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, joined the Phantoms from the junior ranks and jumped to the top of the depth chart. Gaining another year of experience were three who already have played for the Flyers - defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Dennis Seidenberg and forward Patrick Sharp. Forward R.J. Umberger was one of the Phantoms' surprising players, and impressive young goalie Antero Niittymaki was the playoff MVP.
The Flyers' brass has spent the last few weeks planning their marketing campaign and talking about other incentives that should include cheaper tickets and affordable packages.