Seeler’s renewed passion for game pays dividends

Nick Seeler

VOORHEES, N.J. – And to think just a couple years ago Nick Seeler decided to take a year (2020-21) off from professional ice hockey to work for his father’s paint company.

Seeler, who could be one of the Flyers’ six defensemen when their season opens on Thursday, said he needed that break for a “mental and physical reset.’’

In a way the interlude was beneficial because it helped bring back his passion for the sport.

“I just needed a kind of mental and physical reset, truthfully,’’ Seeler explained after Monday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center. “It was the right decision to kind of essentially retire.

“A couple months went by and I had that reset. I was like, ‘I’ve got to get back into this thing.’ I certainly missed the game, missed that compete, battling for your teammates. Just that camaraderie with everyone.’’

Seeler was asked about what he did during his time off. Was there a job at Costco in the works?

“No,’’ he said with a grin. “My dad has run a paint company (Midwest Industrial Coating) for a long time. I knew in the back of my head I knew I certainly missed hockey.’’

Seeler, 29, proved to be a valuable depth defenseman last season, appearing in 43 games and was a very respectable minus-3 on a team which finished a collective minus-87.

As his year off wound down, Seeler had his agent reach out to Chuck Fletcher, the Flyers’ GM who was Minnesota’s GM when he selected Seeler in the fifth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Seeler had played 99 games for the Wild between 2017-20 and then spent a quick six games with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Fletcher expressed interest in a reunion.

And it seemed to work out because the Flyers re-signed him to a two-year, $1,500,000 contact last May 19.

A good training camp really saw Seeler’s stock rise. Now he could be paired with another veteran, Justin Braun, for the game against the Devils.

Having Seeler on board allowed the Flyers to ship Cam York back to the minors. It looks like rookies Egor Zamula and/or Ronnie Attard could be in the mix as well.

“I came into camp expecting to be in the lineup,’’ Seeler said. “And play on opening night. If that’s the case, it kind of justifies the hard work you put in. I think I’ve had a strong camp, showed what I bring to the lineup.

“Getting in those games last year my game grew as the year went on. Got more comfortable on the right side. Now I’m back on the left here, where I’m more comfortable. I’m excited to get things going for sure.’’

Having a new coach, John Tortorella, will probably work in Seeler’s favor, too, because everyone is working with a clean slate.

“I think there’s something to that,’’ Seeler said. “I’m always been someone who needs to prove himself every year and what I bring. Certainly there’s an accountability factor with him that I respect. I think he’s going to get the best out of us.’’

Seeler fits the profile of someone Tortorella likes to coach.

“I think he’s a guy who plays with a ton of energy,’’ the coach said. “One of the best-conditioned athletes we have. I think he rubs off on people, I think he brings people into the fight with the way he plays.

“So I think he deserves a look here in playing against top competition in the league.’’

>Jackson Cates to Phantoms

The Flyers loaned Jackson Cates to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Monday morning prior the NHL roster deadline at 5 p.m.

>Atkinson seeing specialist

Cam Atkinson, sidelined the entire preseason by injury, was in Columbus, Ohio on Monday being seen by a specialist he has worked with in the past. Tortorella said Atkinson is expected to practice on Wednesday and be ready to play against the Devils at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday.

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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.