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October 1, 2013 | 10:38am ET
Flyers sign Gill to 1-year deal
By David Strehle, TheFourthPeriod.com

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- Having been added to the final version of the Philadelphia Flyers 23-man roster for the 2013-14 opener Wednesday night, defenseman Hal Gill is ready to embark on his 16th NHL season.

The 38-year-old signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the club Tuesday, and stands to share duties as the Flyers' seventh defenseman with Erik Gustafsson.

Along with former-Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier, the Concord, Massachusetts-native becomes the second UFA to be signed by the Flyers after being bought out by their previous club.

I caught up with Lecavalier Sunday after practice and asked him what Gill could potentially bring to the table if he ended up making the Flyers' opening night roster.

"A guy his size, obviously he won't move around like a Mark Streit when you see him, but he's so big," Lecavalier said, almost looking tired as he recalled the numerous wars with Gill through the course of their careers. "He's got a long stick, it's so hard to play against guys like that. I played against him for so many years, and when you're on the ice against him it's going to be a long night because he's on you quick."

Gill played in 32 games last year with the Nashville Predators before the team decided to use an amnesty buyout of the second year of his two-year pact that paid him $2 million annually.

He possesses a couple of qualities that were attractive to the club, both of which you cannot teach: size, and a genuine mean streak on the ice.

He measures in at a whopping 6' 7" and 245 pounds, adding to some of the girth currently on the Philadelphia blue line: Braydon Coburn is 6' 5", 220 pounds; Nicklas Grossman 6' 4", 230; Andrej Meszaros 6' 2", 223; Luke Schenn 6' 2", 229.

With Gill's mammoth measurements -- even with a trio of smaller blue liners in Streit, Kimmo Timonen, and Gustafsson, all of which are below 6' tall and under 195 pounds -- the average Philly defender now stands just under 6' 2", and weighs in at 214 pounds.

Even with the size that was already present, there has not been much of a price to pay for opposition skaters camping directly in front of Flyers goaltenders since Chris Pronger played his last game in November of 2011.

Obviously wanting to make an early impact, Gill should change that situation in a hurry.

And if there is any question as to the size of his heart, you need look no further than the spring of 2012 when he was Nashville for a good example. Gill blocked a slap shot from Sheldon Souray -- who possesses one of the hardest shots in the league -- in the next to last regular season game against the Dallas Stars, then proceeded to play five playoff contests against the Phoenix Coyotes shortly thereafter.

It came out later that he had skated in those five postseason games with a fractured tibia. That’s a warrior’s mentality akin to what Ian Laperriere displayed in the club’s 2010 run to the Cup Final.

Gill should need no introduction to Philadelphia hockey fans. The hulking rear guard has gone through many battles with the Orange-and-Black through the years, usually drawing the ire of the Flyers' faithful for manhandling the team's top scorers.

Included in his memorable moments against Philly is the 2009 postseason, when his Pittsburgh Penguins dismantled the Flyers in a six-game opening round victory on the way to capturing the Stanley Cup.

He spent the first eight years of his career with the hometown Boston Bruins, and has also skated for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens in addition to Nashville last season.

Lecavalier believes that in addition to Gill's gigantic frame, demeanor, and reach, he'll also bring something else to the room.

"I think he brings a lot of leadership, as well," Lecavalier added. "He's been around and he's a good guy, I think he can really bring it on and off the ice."

David Strehle is the Philadelphia Correspondent for The Fourth Period.


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