As that legendary sports philosopher Yogi Berra once observed: “It gets late early out there.’’
The Hall of Fame player was referring to the difficulty of playing left field in late afternoons when the shadows crept in at Yankee Stadium.
When you think about it, in a different way, the same logic could apply to the Flyers’ last three seasons.
Before their 82-game schedule is even a third of the way over, their playoff hopes grow dimmer by the day.
This season, with 27 encounters by the board headling into Friday night’s game at Vegas, the Flyers were already seven points out of a wild card spot.
After a promising 7-3-2 start, they have gone 2-10-3, including a 10-game winless streak.
All of which brings us to this thought: If the Flyers aren’t going to be contenders, should they shift gears and start concentrating more on developing young talent?
One indicator might have been coach John Tortorella’s decision to start 2019 first-round draft pick Cam York against the Golden Knights and bench veteran defenseman Tony DeAngelo.
Some believe York, who didn’t make the Flyers’ roster coming out training camp, should be given a legitimate shot at the big team.
After all, he went down to the Phantoms without so much as a grumble.
He’s done well for himself at Lehigh Valley, leading defensemen in scoring with 13 points (trailing overall leader Tyson Foerster by only two points) and is No. 1 in assists with 10. Also, he’s tied for the lead in game-winning goals (two), shorthanded goals (one) and power-play assists (six).
If the Flyers don’t turn things around in the standings, why not give kids such as York, Foerster, Olle Lycksell and Elliot Desnoyers a chance to see what they can do at the NHL level?
Phantoms coach Ian Laperriere has been working closely with York to see what improvements can be made in his game.
At Friday morning’s pre-game skate at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, York was asked about this latest opportunity to try and make the team. He has already played in 33 National Hockey League games over the past two seasons, so technically the 21-year-old is no longer a rookie.
“It feels really good,’’ he said. “I’ve been waiting all year for that call from the coaches so it feels really good. I’m happy to be here and I want to take full advantage of the opportunity.”
Because he’s only 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, York knows he has to use his speed and guile to contend with some of the NHL’s 200-plus-pound forwards.
That means reading the play in rapid fashion, something he excelled at when he played for the University of Michigan.
“Defensively, I’m trying to close out guys quicker and be a little harder defensively,’’ he said. “That was kind of my main focus and I feel like offensively it kind of comes naturally for me, so I worked hard in the D-zone and I got the call, so it’s good.”
When York was sent back to Allentown in mid-October, the intention was to give him a lot of ice time, responsibility and experience.
Let’s see if that strategy pays off.
“I played a lot every night,’’ he said. “It gets you more into the game, you play in every situation and it kind of builds your confidence. I feel really good and I like my game and I had a good start to the year, so I’m happy with that.”
Regardless of where the Flyers wind up in the standings, it’s encouraging to see that promising young players such as Noah Cates, Egor Zamula, Tanner Laczynski, Wade Allison and Jackson Cates are all getting a chance to see what they can do at the top level.
After all, this group represents the Flyers’ future and hopefully leads the franchise back to better times, sooner than later.