In times like these, people look to their leaders and the Flyers are no exception.
With the COVID-19 lockdown now entering its second month, a number of younger players seem to be taking their emotional cue from veterans such as Sean Couturier.
Couturier, who was about to complete his ninth season with the Flyers when things came grinding to a stop, stays in touch with teammates via conferencing technology on practically a daily basis.
The 27-year-old center continues to give off a positive vibe – namely, that hockey hopefully will return sooner than later; perhaps in time to even crown a Stanley Cup champion for the 2019-20 season.
During a media conference call on Tuesday, Couturier said he’s somewhat “optimistic’’ about a possible conclusion to the stalled campaign.
“I’m trying to be, that’s my mindset anyway,’’ he said. “I’m trying to stay in shape if ever we start again. . .I’m ready as much as possible.
“It’s kind of a weird situation. To be honest, we don’t know if we’re starting again, we don’t know when we’re starting again, we don’t know if it’s going to be canceled or if we’re preparing for next season in September. There are a lot of unknowns.’’
On the flip side, there’s the possibility the 2019-20 season will go unfinished.
“If whenever we find out it’s canceled, I’ll just kind of reset,’’ he said. “Take a few weeks off and then get ready for next year.’’
Couturier says he’s been running and so forth to maintain his fitness.
“I’m going up and down the stairs doing laundry, doing some dishes, that’s my training right now,’’ he joked. “But seriously, everyday I’m going for a walk or a run. Just doing body weights, kind of old-school workouts like you did growing up at home.
“It’s not ideal but it is what it is. Just trying to be prepared as I can with the circumstances we’re in.’’
Meanwhile, normal life activities have taken a decided lane change in the Couturier household.
“Things are still changing everyday,’’ he said. “The precautions are updating everyday. It’s quite different, just going to the grocery store. There are some places where you absolutely have to wear a mask and if you don’t have one, they won’t let you in.
“We’re just adjusting with whatever we have to do to help keep people safe, do our own part and just try to hang in there, be patient until this thing ends for sure.’’
Sean and his wife, Laurence, remain in the couple’s Philadelphia townhouse for the time being. She’s going through the process of getting her green card for Canada before visiting their home country.
They’re also closing on a house in Haddonfield, N.J. next month so there’s that to think about.
“That keeps me a little busy,’’ Couturier said. “But it’s not ideal what we’re living through. Just killing time at home, watching some movies. Just trying to stay busy as much as I can. It is getting long and lonely and tough, but we have to hang in there.’’
Like other Flyers who have participated in media conference calls, Couturier acknowledges the stoppage couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Flyers, who were 9-1 in their last 10 games.
Was this the best the Flyers have played in the past few years?
“Yeah,’’ he said, “but that’s life, it is what it is. Before all this happened, it was pretty exciting, fun to be a part of. We were all on the same page as far as our mindset and making a push in the playoffs.
“It’s too bad what’s going on. Hopefully we can figure something out to finish the playoffs or the year down the road. We’ll see what happens.’’
With 69 games in the books, Couturier was on his way to his third straight outstanding season. He was a finalist for the Selke Trophy (NHL’s best defensive forward) back in 2017-18. This year, he’s being mentioned for the Selke again, having compiled a team-leading plus-21 while competing against the likes of stars such as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
“It’s not something I really focus on,’’ he said. “I think personally my year went pretty well, so did the team. I’m happy and honored to be mentioned in the award talks but it’s just another year where I improved.
“Our team got better as the year went on and I feel my year kind of reflected the same as the team.’’