New Flyer Gervais reunited with old friend
On June 24, the Flyers completed a trade that brought defenseman Luke Schenn – brother of forward Brayden – to Philadelphia to play alongside his younger sibling. On Thursday, they followed it up by reuniting a pair of childhood friends.
The Flyers' newest blueliner, Bruno Gervais, has been to Philadelphia a few times. He’s familiar with the city, with its rabid passion for its teams. But it’s the player who’s been here for a year already that he truly knows well: Max Talbot.
“We grew up together,” Gervais said. “I’ve known Max pretty much forever. We played together when we were 10 years old back home. I’ve known him my whole life.”
Talbot and Gervais, 27, have had careers that somewhat mirrored each other, as well. Both have been in the NHL since 2005, both played on a single team for six years (Gervais for the New York Islanders, Talbot for the Pittsburgh Penguins) before electing to move on last season.
The two are so close, in fact, that Talbot will be a groomsman at Gervais’ July 14 wedding.
Of course, while Talbot was a big part of what drew Gervais to the Flyers, he wasn’t the entire reason. Gervais said he’s happy with the direction he believes the Flyers are headed, that he enjoyed his brief stint in Tampa but he’s pleased to wind up in Philly. The two-year deal he inked with the Flyers is worth $825,000 per season, according to CapGeek.com.
“The main thing was, for me, I want to win,” Gervais said. “And I want to be part of a team that’s heading that way. … I just want to help the team any way I can to go further in the playoffs and having a chance to win.”
Flyers fans hopeful Gervais will fill the spot left vacant by defenseman Matt Carle, who signed a six-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning late Wednesday, will be out of luck. While Gervais is a righthanded shot and does bring some size (he’s 6-foot-1, 205 pounds), he’s more a sixth or seventh defenseman than a top-pairing guy like Carle.
That said, the off-ice experience and character he brings will be welcomed by a locker room that has lost three class acts in Carle, Jaromir Jagr and James van Riemsdyk this off-season.
“I think he’s going to fit nicely into our group of – whether we carry seven or eight defensemen, we’ll see,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “But he’s a right-hand shot, and that gives us two right-hand shots [on defense] in Luke Schenn and Bruno, something we haven’t had since I can’t remember. …
“I know he’s bounced around a little bit, but he’s an unassuming, quiet, good player that’ll provide enthusiasm and experience, and I think he’s a really good fit on our team.”
Despite having played seven seasons in the NHL, Gervais has never completed a full 82 games. While injury hampered his final year on Long Island, last season was simply a matter of a logjam on defense. In 50 games with the Lightning, Gervais had six goals and seven assists, along with a minus-4 rating.
“I was healthy the whole season,” he said. “I knew the situation going in. … There was a ranking of all the D-men, there was a lot of traffic there. I knew I was going to going to fight to get my chance. Early on through the year there was a lot of bodies there, so I had to kind of wait for my time, but the second I got back in the lineup, things went really well.
“They were really happy with me on and off the ice, I felt really good, and I got back to the hockey I know I can play. From a confidence point of view, it really helped me that year and helped me get back on track.”
With the addition of Gervais, the Flyers now have nine defensemen competing for – most likely – seven spots. Only one of those players, Erik Gustafsson, is exempt from waivers.E-mail Sarah Baicker at email@example.com