Gill Auditioning For Place On Flyers Blue Line
Free agent defenseman Hal Gill knows the reality of the situation he's in.
Playing on a player tryout, Gill left a good impression on the Flyers in their 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers at home on Tuesday. Gill registered an assist, was a plus-1 and had four blocked shots.
"I think in a normal situation when you have a contract you’re just worried about progressing and getting ready every game," Gill said. "In this situation I wanted to speed up the process, but it was good.
"It’s nice to get out there and be competitive and play. I felt good. It’s preseason where you are still learning a new system and timing needs to get there, but it is nice to get out there.”
Gill will get a few more chances to audition for a Flyers team that is looking for the best six defensemen to put in front of goaltenders Steve Mason and Ray Emery this season.
Gill's main objective is to show the Flyers that the 38-year-old blue liner can stay healthy and keep up with the incredibly durable 92% of possible games played in his career.
"I don’t think I have to show people what I can do. I’ve been doing the same thing for a long time," Gill said.
"I don’t have a new deke or anything that I’m trying to show anyone, but obviously you want to play as much as you can."
Gill showed good puck-moving skills in the second period when he set up the Flyers' first goal.
Gill sent a puck along the bench boards and found Talbot, who got behind the Rangers defense to set up a 2-on-1 with Kris Newbury. Talbot beat Rangers goalie Cam Talbot to tie the game up, 1-1.
Gill's best skills are going to be his defense. He blocks shots (had four) and has an active stick.
"You think back through Hal and his career and what’s most noticeable and its him taking care in front of the net and being physical on top-end players and high-end player, so I think we'll even get a better look and a better read on Hal as the camp moves on and you can see those matchups that you’re trying to get," head coach Peter Laviolette said after the game.
Laviolette too recognizes that Gill is here on a tryout and is just trying to make the best impression. That impression also includes the positive personality Gill has brought into the locker room for potentially a short time.
"He’s got just a terrific personality," Laviolette said. "He’s always got a smile on his face. He comes in and is happy to be here."
The Flyers have three more games left in the preseason before the October 2 home opener against the Maple Leafs at home. Gill will play in at least two of those games.
"Like I said he is in phenomenal shape, lots of experience, been here done that. You know he’s come here to work out and try to make our team," Laviolette added.