Gill Hoping To Catch On With Flyers

Veteran defenseman Hal Gill is hoping to parlay a PTO into a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers this preseason (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

Veteran defenseman Hal Gill is hoping to parlay a PTO into a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers this preseason (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

PHILADELPHIA — For years, the main criticism of the Philadelphia Flyers has been its goaltending.  And, whether they truly have or haven’t, the organization feels they’ve addressed that this season by adding Ray Emery and having dealt for Steve Mason at the end of last year.

Perhaps overlooked, however, is the role the defensemen in front of those goaltenders has played in the team’s seemingly inevitable downfall year after year.  Hal Gill would like to be a part of the solution.

The 38-year-old veteran blueliner is with the Flyers on a PTO, and tallied an assist in 15:17 of ice time in their 3-2 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night.

“I think in a normal situation, where you have a contract, you’re just worried about progressing and getting better every game,” Gill said.

“In this situation, I wanted to speed up the process. It was good, it was nice to get out there and be competitive and play. I felt good. It’s preseason, you’re still learning a new system, and timing needs to get there. But it’s nice to get out there.”

A veteran of 15 NHL seasons, the 6-foot-7, 243 pounder found himself on the outside looking in once free agency sorted itself out.  He played in 32 games last year for the Nashville Predators, registering no points, 12 penalty minutes, and a minus-3.

“I think I can show that I’m healthy and I’m ready to go, and I have that desire and I want to be a part of the team,” he said. “I don’t have to show people what I can do, I’ve been doing the same thing for a long time. I don’t have a new deke or anything that I’m trying to show anyone. Obviously, you want to play as much as you can…I’m trying to do whatever I can to get a job.”

The fit in Philadelphia could be an interesting one should he stick around.  After years of rough and tumble games against the Flyers as a member of Eastern Conference opponents like Boston, Toronto, Pittsburgh and Montreal, the 2009 Stanley Cup Champion found himself with a whole new perspective of the organization now that he’s a member of it.

“To be honest with you, I’ve been really impressed with how this whole organization is kind of a family,” Gill said. “There are a lot of guys around that played here and are still involved in the staff, and I see a lot of familiar faces from years ago. This is a first-class organization, but I’ve always rooted against Philly and been hard on their team playing against them. It’s nice to see the other side.”

But it’s on the ice where Gill’s focus lies, and he stressed that he needs to just stick to what he does and not try to be a player he’s not if he has any hopes of sticking around in “The City of Brotherly Love.”

“I try to keep it simple, kill penalties, play solid in front of the net and let our goalies see the puck,” he said. 

“I think every team needs that. They have a lot of good players on this team that can do the job, and I’d love to be a part of that. There’s a lot of emphasis on offense and creating offense from your defense, but there’s also a place for being steady, getting the puck to the forwards and letting them do their job.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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