PHILADELPHIA - Wanted to visit briefly this morning with Philadelphia Flyers' centre Blair Betts, who started his NHL career with the Calgary Flames, as their second-round choice in the 1998 entry draft. The Flames projected Betts as exactly the sort of player he's turned out to be - a penalty-killing specialist, good in the face-off circle, and responsible in a defensive role. Betts hasn't had a great time of it, winning draws in this series, but overall, he is at 53.9 per cent.
More importantly, the Flyers' penalty killers haven't surrendered a single goal in the first three games of the series. He just couldn't stay healthy in his time with the Flames, requiring three shoulder surgeries in three years. Eventually, they traded him to the Rangers along with Jamie McLennan, just before their run to the 2004 Stanley Cup final. In exchange, they received Chris Simon, who was a useful player for them for a short period of time.
Betts spent the first four post-lockout seasons with the Rangers, but wasn't offered a contract this summer. After talking to three or four teams, he went to the Flyers' camp on a tryout basis, but earned a contract based on his play in the exhibition season. Now, he's got another chance to participate in the Stanley Cup run that he missed out on six years earlier in Calgary.
"It was tough to watch for sure," said Betts. "I had some good friends on that team and I wanted to see them do well. I remember it being painful to watch, but at the same time, trades are made. It feels good to be back here, in the line-up, playing."
Betts has come along way since September, when he wasn't even sure if he'd land a job in the NHL.
"It feels like karma is kinda working itself out. (September) feels like a long time ago, but I still try to remember it, because it keeps me humble and makes me appreciate things like this."