A new NHL season is just around the corner and Flyers goaltender Carter Hart sounds like he can’t wait to get started.
The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association have come to an agreement to begin an abbreviated, 56-game 2020-21 season, with action commencing on Jan. 13.
That means Hart and the rest of the Flyers are scheduled to start training camp on Jan. 3 in Voorhees, N.J.
The hope for Philadelphia will be to pick up where things left off last season, when the Flyers won their first playoff series since 2012 (over Montreal) and took the New York Islanders to a seventh game in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
It’s been challenging for NHL players to maintain their physical and emotional conditioning, given the uncertainty of a new campaign due to the pandemic.
But Hart says it’s all part of where everyone is right now.
“I think it’s similar to where we were before when the pause first hit back in March,’’ Hart said on Sunday during an interview on NHL Network Radio. “We weren’t sure when the return of play was or the playoffs.
“But at the end of the day you have to prepare, to train no matter what. I got a good offseason at home on the ice, off the ice with my coaches and trainers. You just have to prepare and be ready for anything.’’
The Flyers are slated to play in what will be a realigned Metropolitan Division. Out are Carolina and Columbus; in are Buffalo and Boston.
The other teams – Pittsburgh, Washington, the New Jersey Devils and the two New York teams – remain the same.
“If that’s our division this year, that’s our division,’’ Hart said. “It looks like a good group of teams. We play in the Metro every year and that’s a good division so it will be good competition.’’
Because of time constraints, no preseason games will take place. That has to be extra challenging for goalies, right?
Hart pointed out that last season there was only one preseason game prior to the round-robin tournament at the end of July/early August in Toronto, so this time around shouldn’t be much different.
“We’re all professionals,’’ he said. “If we don’t play preseason games, it’s our job to be ready on opening night no matter what.
“Obviously it would be nice to have one preseason game to slowly get back into things. If not, you just have to prepare and be ready.’’