If someone from the Flyers organization is going to comment about the NHL’s reaction to the Jakob Blake shooting protests, it’s not going to be Flyers coach Alain Vigneault.
Understandably, Vigneault had his eyes stuck on a computer screen “20 hours a day’’ (in his words) trying to prepare for Thursday night’s Game 3 of the best-of-seven series with the New York Islanders, which was postponed Thursday afternoon in response to the Hockey Diversity Alliance’s request not to play.
That’s pretty much the mode he’s been in since the Flyers eliminated Montreal in the first round.
In a Thursday midday Zoom call from Toronto, Vigneault called himself a bit of a “hockey nerd.’’ Translation: He hasn’t had time to peruse newspapers and TV shows to catch up on the latest developments.
After Wednesday afternoon’s game, Vigneault begged off making any statement about the situation and he stayed with that stance a day later.
“Listen, I’m disappointed to disappoint you with my answer but ever since we eliminated Montreal,’’ Vigneault said, “the only thing that’s been open in my (hotel) room is my computer to hockey games.
“I’ve been trying to prepare my team the best way I can. We played yesterday, the only thing that was open in my room after the game was my computer. I really have no idea what’s going on in the outside world.’’
That’s probably not going to change for the near future.
“We’re in this bubble right now,’’ Vigneault said. “I’m invested 24/7 in our team, working 20 hours a day, going through video, comparing our group.
“I do Twitter but I haven’t read a sports article and I haven’t read any type of article in I don’t know how long. I guess I’m a hockey nerd and that’s what I’m doing right now.’’
Overall, Vigneault believes the NHL has taken the right steps in addressing the Black Lives Matter movement and other causes.
“I believe the NHL is a great league,’’ he said. “I believe the NHL is doing everything that they can to help in their own way what society is going through.
“We all see the signs, we’re all for equality and social justice.’’
Vigneault scratched Scott Laughton for the first time in Wednesday’s game and there’s no way of knowing if it was something to do with injury, illness or the coach just wanted to make a change.
James van Riemsdyk returned to the lineup and, according to Vigneault, played well.
“I thought James played hard,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s an offensive player that has an ability around the net. But I thought his overall game yesterday, getting in on the forecheck, using his size, helping us kill plays in the neutral zone. . .I thought his game was good.’’
Vigneault said he didn’t want to get into the reason why Laughton didn’t play. Welcome to the new NHL.
“At this time we’re not allowed to talk about player availability,’’ he said.