Travis Konecny had one goal in mind heading into the Flyers training camp, to make the team’s starting roster and have his NHL dream come true. By the end of camp, Konecny exceeded everyone’s expectations. Not only did he make it on to the Flyer’s roster but he has quickly become a fan favourite. After only 26 games played with the club, TK finds himself playing in a top six role alongside Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds. Konecny is a very valuable piece of the Flyers young core and is already proving his worth with 14 points in the 2016-17 campaign.
After 26 games, TK finds himself playing in a top six role alongside Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds. Konecny is a very valuable piece of the Flyers’ young core and is already proving his worth with 14 points in the 2016-17 campaign.
Welcome to the NHL, TK
After a stellar training camp with the Flyers, the Clachan, Ontario-native made it almost impossible for general manager Ron Hextall to send him down to the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. Konecny, a natural centerman, was asked to transition to the wing when the Flyers’ World Cup players returned. The coaching staff and management wanted to see if he could manage the transition. He passed this test flawlessly.
Ahead of taking on the Ottawa Senators, Konecny recalled the day he received news that he made the Flyers roster:
“I remember it being the last exhibition game. The next morning, we had a day off and me and Provorov were sitting at the hotel, obviously uncomfortable about what was going on. To get called up to Hextall’s office that time of year isn’t usually a good thing. We both got a text asking us to come into the office, we didn’t know what to expect, our emotions were going all over the place. Provorov went in first and I remember him not giving me any expression and he already knew he made the team, I was worried it was bad news. I just went in and he (Hextall) congratulated me on having a good pre-season and he’s looking forward to keeping me on the team for the year.” Konecny told reporters before the Flyers faced the Senators on December 1st, 2016.
Konecny is relishing the opportunity to play in a loud Wells Fargo Center.
“The rink every night is next to nothing, the atmosphere they (the fans) bring, the dedication, heart they bring to the table every night is inspiring for me to see. Being around these guys, a lot of veterans in the room helping me transition to the NHL is definitely something I am going to remember and something I am learning from each and every day,
it’s been a good process so far,” Konecny told reporters.
Transitioning directly from Junior is something not many players are able to do.
“I just kept things simple. For me, I am offensive and try to make something out of nothing, and that’s just the main thing for me. Living for the next play and learning in the NHL, reading off their mistakes, you can’t always make a play, you have to be smart with each play and make sure you’re doing what is right for the team. Keeping my game simple is what got me here,” Konecny expressed to reporters.
One of biggest adjustments to make for a young rookie is the speed of the game.
“The speed, and I don’t necessarily mean skating, I mean thinking wise and how fast plays happen. Guys like Karlsson tonight (December 1st, 2016), he’s thinking so fast and knows his play 2 or 3 steps before the next guy does, you just have to try and out think somebody and play smart. For me that’s been the big jump.” Konecny told reporters.
To start the season, Konecny has earned his way to play alongside some skilled talent and is currently on a line with Simmonds and Brayden Schenn.
“It’s a lot of fun, playing with two skilled guys. I have had the opportunity all year to play with skilled players and it’s given me a lot of success. I have chemistry when I played with both of them to start the season so it should be a good night (versus the Ottawa Senators),” Konecny told reporters.
Team Leader in Penalty Minutes
One of the biggest surprises of the 2016-17 campaign is the rookie Konecny leading the team in penalty minutes. A majority of those came in last week’s game against the New York Rangers, where Konecny received 17 PIMS for his first NHL fight.
“I don’t know what happened there, I have never been like that before. I think it’s different, you got to set an example when you’re playing in the NHL, some guys will run all over you if they can to make plays, make hits. I think part of these penalties I am taking is just me having to step up and I am just the guy there, making an example stepping up for my teammates,” Konecny told reporters.
Head coach Dave Hakstol didn’t envision Konecny being his squad’s leader in penalty minutes but praised the way the rookie has played:
“I don’t think that is part of his role, but he’s played with a lot of intensity and for a young guy we like that. There is always a line you don’t want to cross and so far TK has done a good job at staying on the right side of that line but still playing extremely hard.”
Konecny earned additional praise from his head coach for his work ethic.
“He’s a worker, he shows up every day and works at his game. The dynamic ability is obvious to everybody. We’re asking him to be a confident player with the puck and continue to learn and develop his game without the puck,” Hakstol told The Hockey Writers.
Life in Philadelphia
Living in a new city as a professional athlete has been a great experience so far for the Flyers rookie.
“It’s been a lot of fun, good city, fans are unbelievable, you get recognized everywhere. It’s kinda cool, especially some of the players that have been here awhile, we go out for dinner and recognize them. It’s a unique place to be and there is a lot of history and I have had the chance to tour around a little bit,” Konecny told reporters.
Asked if he has tried a Philly cheese steak sandwich yet, Konecny responded with a laugh, “Yeah, I have had a couple.”