The Philadelphia Flyers‘ 2020-21 season was full of up and down moments that ultimately ended in disappointment. After expectations were set high at the beginning of the season, they failed to meet the height of that bar. Injury troubles plagued the team from the beginning of the season, but they found a way to get things done at the start. Finding a way to win games has always been part of the Flyers’ motto, but this season was just different.
The narrative of the “next man up” mentality was supposed to power the team to success in a time of need, but that didn’t happen down the line. Unfortunately, the odds were already stacked against the team heading into the season with COVID-19 and a 56-game schedule against tough division opponents. At the end of the day, they just could not get things done from start to finish, as it seemed like the slump never ended and success did not come easily.
As the season ended less than a week ago, injury reports started rolling out one after another. Those reports put into perspective how tough of a season it truly was for the Flyers, but they’re not an excuse as to why the team did not play well. Some of the injuries were more impactful than others over the course of the season, which obviously contributed to a lack of success. From key injuries to minor ones, injury troubles were ultimately the downfall of the Flyers.
As first reported about a month ago, Carter Hart missed two weeks with a mild knee sprain. The extent of the injury was not known at the time, but the Flyers were cautious and proactive in handling the situation at first. After a closer look at the injury, they decided to shut their young star goaltender for the remainder of the season.
“I know Carter wants to get back and play with his teammates, but he still feels a little bit of discomfort,” said Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault. “We’ve had four different doctors take a look at the MRI, they all say the same thing, that it’s a mild sprain. … We’re just being a little bit cautious there, I know how badly he wants to get back at it.”
While Hart’s play this season was extremely disappointing, the knee injury was a cause for concern for the Flyers. Giving him the time to get his head straight and rehab the injury will be essential to making a full recovery. He will look to bounce back next season and come out strong in his third full season with the team.
Tanner Laczynski made his NHL debut with the Flyers during the 2020-21 season. After a strong five-game stint with the Flyers, the forward’s season ended early due to a hip injury that was to require major surgery. The surgery was scheduled shortly after the season to repair a torn labrum, which will result in a four-month recovery. Laczynski spent the majority of the season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, where he put on an impressive showing. The attention was enough to catch the eye of Flyers management, which resulted in a call-up later in the season.
“I like what Tanner did in those five games,” Vigneault said. “Obviously it’s a very small sample, a very small segment, but he did do all of the things that Chuck had said and Flahrsy had said: good two-way guy, smart, plays that 200-foot game. Hopefully, he gets back to 100 percent here in the next four months and he’s ready for training camp next year, (hopefully) we have a normal camp and he can show us what he can do.”
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Laczynski will make a solid case to join the Flyers’ lineup next season after he recovers from surgery. He won’t able to see the ice until late August or early September, which is when training camp kicks off.
Following a somewhat disappointing season for Kevin Hayes, it was recently brought to light that the big forward had been dealing with an undisclosed injury for the majority of the season. The injury will require surgery, but nothing major, according to Hayes. He will look to bounce back on a tough season and contribute to the success of the team moving forward.
While Hayes’ injury was unknown during the season, it was easy to tell that something was off with the power forward. Following a successful last season, he just looked off in 2020-21. Hopefully, the offseason will allow him to get things straight and come back strong next season.
Heading into the offseason, the Flyers will look to build on their success from 2019-20. With a roster full of young up-and-comers as well as talented vets, there’s no reason that this team will not be able to make a run at the Stanley Cup next season. As long as injuries do not plague the team as they did this season, the Flyers will be more than fine.
Bobby Bader Jr. is a freelance journalist born and raised in Philadelphia, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers since the start of the 2020-21 National Hockey League Season. He currently works with the Hershey Cubs Hockey Club (USPHL Premier) as the team’s media coordinator and serves as the Assistant Sports Information Director at Penn State Harrisburg. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Bobby on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo in articles like this one.