Come October, Scott Hartnell will be entering his 11th season in the National Hockey League and fifth with the Flyers.
You might think that the beginning of this season would be unlike any other for Hartnell with all of the changes, and in some ways it will be, but it’s not all that dissimilar from another year recalls the 29-year-old left wing.
“Probably my first year in Philadelphia. I think the Flyers came off their worst season ever. They got JVR as the second overall pick, me and Kimmo Timonen, Danny Briere and Jason Smith came in, so there was almost a turnaround like there is this year."
That year saw the Flyers rebound from a record of 22-48-12 and 56 points in 2006-07 to a mark of 42-29-11 and 95 points, which included an impressive run to the Eastern Conference Final.
“It was just exciting to have that new group of guys and everyone competing for the same goal. It’s reminding me a lot of the first year I got to Philly, but instead of being the new guy I’m one of the veterans here. You have to make the new guys feel welcome. Everyone did when I first came.”
Hartnell will also have extra incentive to make the newcomers feel welcome, seeing as one of them will more than likely end up on his line that lost Ville Leino to Free Agency and therefor splitting up the Hartnell-Briere-Leino combination.
With the talent and size acquired, it’s something that Hartnell is certainly looking forward to. He had a rebound year of sorts in 2010-11 posting 24 goals (up from 14 in 2009-10) and 49 points during the regular season.
His partner in crime, Briere, had a career year in the goal-scoring department as well, recording 34 tallies and adding 34 assists for a 68-point season.
“Danny and I love playing with each other. I think if it’s Jagr, Voracek or Simmonds that comes in on that right wing side, they’ll control the play or get pucks to Danny B. behind the net. I know where I’ll be, right in the front creating some havoc and getting some tips and shots. It’s a pretty simple recipe and Danny and I have done a good job of working together, so I’m sure someone will do a good job and come in to take right up were Ville left off.”
With the off-season significantly longer than the previous year, Hartnell sees this summer as a good way to get away from the game, and an even better way to come back even hungrier for the ultimate prize.
“I think it’s huge,” said Hartnell of the time off. “It’s a long enough season as it is. Eight-nine months. To take a month off for yourself to just relax and get away from the game and just kind of re-charge your mind and body, it’s big in my book. If you didn’t take any time off you would definitely run into some overload problems during the hockey year.”
Having come in a few weeks early to train and get back to game-shape heading into training camp, Hartnell easily admits that being around the hallways of the team’s practice facility in Voorhees, N.J. has got him thinking and getting even more anxious about the upcoming season. In particular, this season’s opening game which is already marked on his (and I’m sure others) calendar.
“It was a disappointing ending to the season getting swept by Boston and having them go on to win the Stanley Cup. Now we’re going to go through training camp and low and behold our first game is vs. Boston. They’ll raise the banner and give out their rings I’m sure, so I think it will be a little emotional for us because obviously they took us down on their way to the Stanley Cup. As much as it will be upsetting to see, it will give us motivation to win that game, come out flying in their building and we can put a little damper on the beginning of their season.”