Selfish Flyers Keep Slumping Konecny From Helping Country


 Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

der Eishockeyzuschauer

Allentown, PA


Well, forget all about Thomas Wolfe’s fictional character George Webber or former Penn State goaltender Eamon McAdam now with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League. If host nation Canada do not win a medal of any color at the upcoming 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, the guy who truly might never, ever be able to go home again could very well end up being none other than former National Hockey League puck stopper Ron Hextall, the current general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Because I know that if I were a patriotic Canadian citizen who also just so happened to work as a customs official at a major point of entry such as an airport, I would not be so quick to stamp Hexy’s passport should the junior national team fail to win a medal of any color at the annual WJC for what would be the second year in succession.

Travis Konecny, the rookie 19-year-old winger whom the Philadelphia Flyers chose in the first round pick (# 24 overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft, has now gone nineteen consecutive NHL games without registering a goal but will not be sent out on loan to help host nation Canada at the planet’s premier tournament for players under the age of twenty. It actually makes a lot of sense to send a struggling young player who has now spent 268 minutes and 24 seconds (that’s almost four and a half hours) on the ice without locating the back of the net so much as even once to the annual WJC tournament in order to reestablish form and restore confidence. Plus, it is becoming more and more apparent with each and every passing game that the physically overmatched Konecny really has no business remaining on Philadelphia’s second scoring line.
One play that occurred late in the the third period of the Flyers’ game against the visiting Nashville Predators on Monday night was very illustrative of why the overhyped Konecny has been effectively neutralized since getting off to a relatively fast start by notching four goals in his first fifteen NHL games. The Philadelphia rookie was in possession of the puck along the left wing boards and attempted to put a move on veteran Nashville defenseman Matt Ellis, only to be emphatically planted right on his rear end in dramatic fashion. What was especially remarkable about the event is the simple fact that Ellis (6’0″ 208 lbs) is certainly not considered to be a “big” blue liner by today’s National Hockey League standards and it is also indicative of how easy it has been for NHL defensemen to hammer on Konecny all season long, really.
Yes, there is no doubt that Konecny (5′ 10″ 175  lbs) does, indeed, have some promising offensive skills but it is also becoming more and more obvious all the time that the youngster is just not ready to manage the all rigors of routine NHL traffic very well at this point in time. For their part, there is little question that the Philadelphia Flyers front office would probably be quick to say that there is nothing for the teenager to prove by going off to skate for Canada at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. Which would be laughable considering the fact that Konecny and the rest of his teammates (a group which included Lehigh Valley Phantoms rookie defenseman Travis Sanheim) actually proved very little to anybody last winter in becoming the first Canadian squad to falter at the quarterfinal stage of the annual WJC in almost two decades — eighteen years, to be more precise.
Konecny is certainly not the only player who would probably be better served by representing their respective countries at the upcoming WJC tournament which will be co-hosted by Montreal and Toronto. As of December 21st, there were a total of 16 players actively listed on National Hockey League rosters who are all eligible to participate at the 2017 WJC. Some, such as the Finnish winger Patrik Laine from the Winnipeg Jets (18 goals, 29 points in 34 games) and the American center Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs (15 goals, 24 points in 31 games) have clearly shown that they can and will contribute regularly at the NHL level. Other players such as the Canadian winger Lawson Crouse of Phoenix Coyotes (two goals, three points in 28 games) and the Czech winger Pavel Zacha from the New Jersey Devils (two goals, seven points in 26 games) have demonstrated that their respective NHL clubs could certainly get along just fine without them for two weeks.
As it stands, none of the sixteen teenage NHLers in question will be appearing at the 2017 WJC and in many cases that is just plain selfishness on the part of the National Hockey League clubs involved. Considering how much the sport of ice hockey and international competition has always meant to the Canadian people as a whole, it is extremely unfortunate that it is the junior team from the host nation that will be the most affected by NHL clubs not sharing any non-essential players. Aside from Konecny, the Canucks will go on without five others while the United States will be missing four players and defending gold medalist Finland will skate sans three players.
Canada have won the gold medal at the annual WJC a record sixteen times but could be hard pressed to get positive results despite the enormous benefit of playing in front of the home crowd. Sweden have eight players returning from last year’s WJC squad and feature a pair of first round draft picks who each started this 2016/17 regular season skating in the NHL before ultimately being sent out on loan to Swedish elite league clubs. Russia have five players coming back from the side that earned a silver medal at the 2016 WJC in Helsinki including highly touted goaltender Ilya Samsonov, the 19-year-old from Metallurg Magnitogorsk who was the first round selection (# 22 overall) of the Washington Capitals at the 2015 NHL Draft, and will also showcase Denis Guryanov from the AHL’s Texas Stars, the 19-year-old winger who was the 12th overall player taken in the first round of that same 2015 NHL Draft but was a late cut by the junior national team last winter.
The Russians, who have won a record 34 overall medals at the annual WJC tournament, also boast another player who began this current season competing at the NHL level before he was sent back to junior hockey. And then there are the upstart and unruly Americans, who upended their neighbors to the north 4-2 at the start of the 2016 WJC before going on to claim the bronze medal in Scandinavia; the United States could be icing as many as eight forwards who were drafted in the first round by National Hockey League clubs. Canada, who have already named their final squad but have not formally submitted the roster to International Ice Hockey Federation officials yet, have six forwards who were drafted in the first round by National Hockey League clubs — Konecny would have made seven.

Categories: Phantoms Hockey

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3 replies

  1. Note To Kram :

    Konecny’s streak without a goal has now reached 20 NHL games and counting with the Flyers set to take on New Jersey Devils tonight (12/22) … NOW I’m ready to buy some German beers and celebrate! 🙂

  2. Supplemental Note To Kram :

    Konecny’s streak without a goal has now reached 21 NHL games and counting following the Flyers’ decisive 4-0 shutout loss to the struggling Devils, who were on a seven-game winless skid going into the contest … Kid belongs helping country who are hosting the upcoming 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship … This whole experience of mine involving Konecny this season reminds me of the movie, “White Men Can’t Jump”, and that line “sometimes when you lose, you really win and sometimes when you win, you really lose” … Could not be any more ready to drink German beer with you and formally acknowledge that I have “lost” this bet that materialized during pre-season 🙂

  3. Still Even More Supplemental Notes To Kram :

    I find it very, very interesting that the Philadelphia Flyers (44 points from 36 games) are listed in fourth place ahead of the Washington Capitals (42 points from 31 games) in the standings for the NHL’s Metropolitan Division …. Of course, the Capitals have a significantly higher percentage of available points won (.674) as compared to the Flyers (.611) and, therefore, if these two same teams were in American Hockey League then Philadelphia would not be listed ahead of Washington … Fascinating, the way the NHL and AHL are clearly NOT on the same page when it comes to how they format their respective standings charts.

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