The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated professional sports so badly, it’s difficult to characterize the possibility of any silver linings.
But in the case of Flyers defenseman Philippe Myers, there might be somewhat of a bright spot to all this down time.
Myers suffered a fractured patella in his right knee in a game against Buffalo on March 7, the penultimate contest before the NHL grinded to a stop.
The 23-year-old backliner was told he would miss up to four weeks, which would have given him virtually no time to get ready for the playoffs.
Now, with four months to heal before the start of training camp on July 10, Myers should be able to hit the ice at full speed and be ready when the Flyers take part in a round-robin tournament to start the postseason.
He’s been skating at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. since last Friday and so far, so good.
“I’ve been rehabbing it while I was home and I’ve been working hard, working out,’’ Myers said during an interview with the Flyers’ public relations department on Wednesday. “I just have to get back to skating now. I hadn’t skated much at home so it’s good to be back in the routine. I never needed surgery or anything. So it was a smooth recovery. And it’s coming along good.’’
Myers represents one of those feel-good stories for all the players who have been overlooked in the NHL Entry Draft. No one took a shot on him in the 2015 draft.
The Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada native signed as a free agent on Sept. 21, 2015. NHL scouts believe if the Flyers hadn’t signed him, he would have been a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry.
After two outstanding seasons with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Myers was called up to the Flyers late in the 2018-19 season and played well in 21 games.
Many thought he would start the season with the Flyers this past season but a logjam on the backline sent him back to Allentown for six games just before the Flyers’ season began with a game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague, Czech Republic.
Once back with the Flyers, Myers’ game took off. Still technically a rookie, Myers played in 50 games and led all Philadelphia defensemen with a plus-17 (second overall on the team to Sean Couturier’s plus-22).
Having been back and forth a couple times, Myers plans to be a mainstay now with the Flyers.
Asked about the transition from the Phantoms to the Flyers and gaining the trust of head coach Alain Vigneault, Myers said it’s about not letting the game get too complicated.
“I think it’s just keeping it simple and obviously the speed is a factor as well,’’ the 6-foot-5, 210-pound player said. “For me, it was just doing my job rather than do too much. I think that’s why I had a pretty good season. When I was keeping it simple, that’s when I was playing my best hockey. I’m just going to keep doing that and hopefully things will go well for me.’’
Myers continued to get more important minutes as the season went along. For the most part, he considers the campaign a success and there’s still a chance to improve even more in the upcoming playoffs.
“I thought it went well for the most part,’’ he said. “It had ups and downs at the start but I thought after Christmas I was playing some consistent hockey. I earned some of the coach’s trust. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the way the first season went. But there’s still lots of work left to do. I’m just going to keep working hard and stay humble.’’