Simmonds: Lehtera’s versatility makes him Flyers’ ‘Swiss Army knife’

In baseball, they call them utility players.
In hockey, the word “valuable’’ might seem more apropos.
For example, just look at the Flyers new center, uh, left wing, uh, right wing Jori Lehtera.
The fact that he can play all three forward positions (the Flyers haven’t tried him in goal yet) makes him particularly attractive when injuries hit.
And, if you have followed the Flyers for a while, you know it’s just a matter of time before someone gets banged up.
Maybe that explains why the 29-year-old Lehtera, who came over from St. Louis in the offseason in exchange for Brayden Schenn, has gotten into 10 of the Flyers’ first 16 games.
Lehtera can fit in seamlessly at any of those aforementioned positions. And what number line he plays doesn’t seem to matter either.
“For me, it doesn’t matter if I play wing or center,’’ he said. “I’ve played first line, second, third, fourth. I’m fine wherever I play.’’
Lehtera said getting traded to Philadelphia might have been the best thing that’s happened to him. His career needed a jump start and this hockey-centric city isn’t a bad place for that to happen.
He can help with the young guys here, too.
“It’s always fun to play with the young guys, the energy and see what they have,’’ Lehtera said. “Even though we have a lot of games, they’re still at the rink, full of energy.
“That,’’ he added with a smile, “is something I can steal from them.’’
Wayne Simmonds doesn’t play too often with Lehtera but appreciates his versatility.
“He’s played so well, the coach hasn’t been able to take him out,’’ Simmonds said. “He’s got high hockey IQ. He brings stability to the team and he makes those little smart hockey plays. Doesn’t turn the puck over much.
“He plays every position. Any time you have guys going down in the lineup, as you will in an 82-game season, you need guys who can flip and flop. That’s like a Swiss Army knife.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2452 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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