Return of Laughton a welcome influence for young Flyers

Scott Laughton (second from right) and others take part in a morning skate.

Hockey players are known for their toughness but when it comes to head injuries, there’s no room for false bravado.

Scott Laughton, out since March 10 with a concussion, knows that but that doesn’t mean he still wasn’t an “impatient patient.’’

In fact, the Flyers’ durable forward claims he felt better just a day or two after he got hurt and later lobbied hard to get back into action, especially for last Saturday’s home game against Toronto.

That’s the kind of competitor Laughton is but ultimately it was probably wise to skip the Toronto and New York Rangers (Sunday) encounters and wait until Tuesday night’s home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets for his return.

“I tried to get back in against the Leafs,’’ Laughton said with a grin after Tuesday morning’s skate at the Wells Fargo Center. “But (they) thought it was good to give me a couple more days of hard skates to make sure I was fit. I was telling them I was ready. I packed a bag for New York just in case. You never want to be out and watch guys but I thought the guys did a good job (4-3 shootout win at Madison Square Garden) so I thought I would try to come in and help out tonight.’’

Interim head coach Mike Yeo knew Laughton was itching to get back in there but it was time to roll out the old discretion is the better part of valor line.

“He really wanted to play on Saturday,’’ Yeo said. “But we just felt with the back-to-back games and a couple of big, heavy teams that it would be wise to give him a little more time. His conditioning is there, he’s been working real hard. He’s been feeling good for a long time and he’s excited to play.’’

Laughton was injured when he was hip-checked by Florida defenseman Petteri Lindbohm and sent crashing into the boards back-first. He had to be helped off the ice.

“When you’re dealing with the head, it’s a little bit different than a broken foot or something,’’ Laughton conceded. “There’s not really a timeline on it. To be honest, I started feeling good in Carolina the day after and then everything has been good since. I think it’s just taking the time with it. You never want to mess with a head injury.’’

Since then, Laughton has been skating but it took quite a while to get cleared for contact. With the Flyers eliminated from playoff consideration, there was really no urgency to get back into action.

“Just trying to get myself prepared, it definitely stinks being out and guys go to battle,’’ he said. “You want to be playing, you want to be part of what’s happening in the future. However many games left, I want to be a part of that, try and help the young guys as much as I can and be an influence.’’

Laughton is looking forward to working with some of the Flyers prospects, such as Noah Cates, Owen Tippett, Hayden Hodgson and Ronnie Attard.

“It’s a little bit tougher when you don’t play,’’ Laughton said. “That’s when you really connect with guys, on the ice and in the room. I’m excited to see that part of it. When you have new guys come in, it’s a little bit of a new energy. It’s exciting to see these guys get an opportunity.’’

With Claude Giroux and Derick Brassard traded away in March, the Flyers can certainly use Laughton’s services. Yeo has been experimenting with Joel Farabee at center but with Laughton’s return, Farabee will return to wing against the Jackets.

“He (Laughton) was playing at a really, really high level when he left and we really missed him in a number of areas,’’ Yeo said. “With the departure, we talked about leadership and guys stepping up. Laughton has really emerged as a leader for us. One of our more vocal guys. He’s a real competitor the way he plays the game. Drags people into fights, plays the game the right way. His commitment to play the game hard at both ends of the ice, it’s real good for our young guys coming in.’’

>Seeler out for season?

Defenseman Nick Seeler, who suffered a lower-body injury in the third period of the Toronto game, is sidelined indefinitely and officially listed as week-to-week. Yeo said there’s a chance Seeler could miss the rest of the season, which ends on April 29.

Also, Zack MacEwen suffered a head injury and will not play against the Blue Jackets.

Carter Hart will start in goal for the Flyers.

>Yandle back in action

Two games after watching his NHL-record 989-consecutive game streak come to an end, defenseman Keith Yandle is scheduled to return to the lineup on Tuesday night.

“We want to keep everyone involved here,’’ Yeo said. “Keith all year has been an important part of our team. Give him a chance to get back in there and (hopefully) play a strong game.’’



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About Wayne Fish 2446 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.