VOORHEES, N.J. – Although Flyers coach John Tortorella says he’s going to hold off on naming a captain for now, he’s doing just about the next best thing.
He’s given veteran Scott Laughton an “A’’ for alternate captain and that’s about as close as you can get to be being the defacto locker room leader.
After Monday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center, Tortorella praised Laughton’s work in the team’s fast 2-0 start.
He’s rewarded Laughton by placing him on the first line and even given him some time on the power play.
The “A’’ is a pretty big deal because no one else is wearing a letter at the moment.
Why only Laughton?
“Because I don’t think anybody else should be wearing it right now,’’ Tortorella said. “I don’t think anybody has shown me that. Some of it is from what I’ve seen before I even came here in ‘Laughts.’
“I’m not going to name a captain (for now). I’m going to wait and see what happens as far as the other letters are concerned. Right now I felt Laughts deserved that, I think he’s handled himself that way. And we’ll see what happens after that.’’
Nearly a decade ago, Laughton was captain of Canada’s World Junior team, earning the nickname “Captain Canada,’’ so he does have those attributes in his pedigree.
“It’s just the type of pro he is,’’ Tortorella said. “I’ve also spoken to people who know him. In the short time I’ve gotten to know him, it was an easy choice for me in that situation.’’
Laughton is happy to take on all these challenges.
“First time in awhile I’ve been on the power play,’’ he said with a grin. “It’s good to get an opportunity here. If I can add a little bit of speed to the second unit, I think that can go a long way.’’
>Noah Cates, Farabee strong on PK
In the early going, both Noah Cates and Joel Farabee have turned in some strong penalty kill work. Tortorella appreciates the effort.
“They are guys that I’m looking for,’’ Tortorella said. “It just bodes well for the team, too, as far as the minutes they’re getting.’’
>Goaltending rotation up in air
With the Flyers playing their first back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday, questions were raised to Tortorella about his goaltending rotation.
These queries were legitimate because starter Carter Hart has had some durability issues over the past couple seasons and his backup, Felix Sandstrom, is just coming off the IR.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen there,’’ said Tortorella, who repeatedly has said he leaves most of those decisions up to his goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh. “I had a short conversation with ‘Dilly’ on the ice and I need to speak to him more about it.
“I do think we overplay the back-to-back stuff where it’s too much for him (Hart). I don’t think it is.’’
One thing the Flyers can’t afford to do is lose Hart for any appreciable amount of time.
“We want to be smart,’’ Tortorella said. “But we’re not looking to baby here, either. He’s in great shape, got a great attitude. I don’t overthink the prior injuries but I have to listen to the trainers.’’
Sandstrom said he will be ready when needed.
“I feel great, I’m ready,’’ he said. “I’m really happy to get the chance to play. If it (the chance to play) comes, I’ll be really excited about it. It’s never fun to be hurt but it’s something where you have to make the best of it.’’
After being placed on waivers and then sent to the Phantoms, Zack MacEwen was recalled on Monday and could see action on the road trip.
Having played most of last season with the Flyers, MacEwen could have reacted somewhat badly to the demotion but he didn’t.
Tortorella said he didn’t expect anything less.
“His attitude better be right,’’ the coach said. “Or he’s not coming back up. I didn’t expect that at all and that’s not what happened. I talked to him and he was great. If we’re going to worry about attitude, if we’re going to worry about players being sent down here, they’ll get stuck down there.’’
The big thing for MacEwen is expanding his game beyond just being an enforcer. If he can’t do more than just absorb minutes and get in the occasional fight, it’s probably not worth keeping him on the roster.
“Mac has had his camp and he’s grown,’’ Tortorella said. “He may or may not play in Tampa, I haven’t made the decision on a lineup in Tampa yet.’’
MacEwen will be ready to answer the bell when it rings.
“It (the demotion) is all part of the game,’’ he said. “I have to earn everything I get. Nothing is going to be given to me. I just look at it as a way to go down and work on my game. Build some confidence and take what I can from that experience.’’