Laughton looks for rebound after long COVID recovery

Alain Vigneault

VOORHEES, N.J. – Scott Laughton just wasn’t himself last season and the blame can be placed squarely on the pandemic.

After posting a career-high 13 goals in the 2019-20 season, the Flyers’ center dropped back to just nine last year and didn’t seem to have that endless energy supply at his service.

The virus can have that effect on athletes. Even though they are able to compete, the stamina just doesn’t seem to be there.

“I felt really weird at the end of last year,’’ Laughton said after Wednesday’s training camp session at the Flyers Training Center. “I was weak and a little bit frail. It’s nice to come back and feel good. I’m looking forward to contributing this year.’’

It sounds like Laughton worked out a little harder than usual during the offseason in an attempt to regain his form of two years ago.   “I took a couple weeks off and then I got right back into the gym probably earlier than I have in the past,’’ he said. “I tried to build back kind of the muscle, everything that I lost. I’m back to my normal weight that I’m usually at. I feel good, I feel full again.’’

At 27, Laughton was one of the longest-tenured players on the team, trailing only Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. That alone makes him a team leader and one of the key voices in the locker room.

Like all of his teammates, he wants to get off to a quick start to avoid another meltdown like last year. The Flyers failed to make the postseason for the fifth time in nine seasons and haven’t missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 1992-93/1993-1994.

Losing center Kevin Hayes to abdominal surgery for at least the first month of the season certainly doesn’t make the task any easier. How do you make up for that loss?

“By committee, I think,’’ Laughton said. “We have some young guys knocking on the door. We’ll see what happens in the next couple weeks. I think a huge part of it is our start. We have a lot of new guys – we have to do our best to welcome them off the ice. I think it will translate on the ice a little bit better.’’

>Laczynski likely to have surgery

After undergoing one hip surgery in the offseason, it looks like rookie Tanner Laczynski will go under the knife again on the opposite hip. Coach Alain Vigneault would not confirm a decision has been reached but it appears the center is headed in the direction of surgery, which would put him on the shelf for multiple months, if not the season.

“My understanding is he is going for the surgery,’’ Vigneault said. “They’re still debating, between the agent and the doctor. It’s very unfortunate. People in the organization think very highly of him but haven’t seen him play very much, he’s been hurt.’’

>Atkinson given day off

Cam Atkinson did not practice on Wednesday. Vigneault called it a “maintenance day’’ but also said he would update the player’s status on Thursday. Atkinson was not scheduled to play in Thursday night’s preseason game at Boston.

“I expect he’ll be fine tomorrow and able to practice,’’ Vigneault said.

>Foerster, Seeler set for Bruins

Tyson Foerster and defenseman Nick Seeler are the only two players who will play in Boston after having played in Tuesday night’s 3-2 preseason game home loss to the Islanders.

“Tyson gives us an opportunity for a second power-play unit,’’ Vigneault said. “We tried him yesterday, we’re going to try again tomorrow. And I really liked the competitiveness of Seeler.’’

In fact, by the end of the preseason, it could come down to Seeler or Cam York for the No. 7 defenseman spot. The Flyers might be leaning toward Seeler or a veteran such as Adam Clendening because York could use more playing time with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

“You would rather have those guys (such as York) play on a regular basis,’’ Vigneault said. “We have six exhibition games and we’re going to take a good look at how guys are doing.’’

>Allison surgery possible

Wade Allison, who suffered a severe high right ankle sprain early in camp, also might need surgery.

“Hopefully in the next few days we will have a better idea,’’ Vigneault said.

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About Wayne Fish 2472 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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