When the game isn’t fun anymore, it’s time to go home.
And, literally, that’s what Flyers forward Lukas Sedlak is doing after the team announced he’s been granted his wish to be put on waivers in order to return to his native country Czechia.
Sedlak, 29, was picked up via the waiver route from the Colorado Avalanche early in the season and played 27 games for Philadelphia, recording three goals/eight points with a plus-3.
During Saturday morning’s pre-game skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J., Sedlak disclosed there were several reasons for essentially retiring from the National Hockey League after two separate tenures covering four seasons and 192 games (Columbus, Colorado, Philadelphia).
Perhaps the most noteworthy was he misses his family (including his fiancee, who has remained in Prague) and wants to be back after 12 years in the NHL, AHL, KHL and junior hockey.
The Flyers, including general manager Chuck Fletcher and coach John Tortorella, are sorry to see him go but wish him the best.
Sedlak plans to continue playing hockey back home for Pardubice of the Extraliga. He still enjoys playing the game but doesn’t want to be halfway around the world to do it.
“The reasons are more than one,’’ Sedlak confirmed. “I just felt that overall me playing in the NHL (now) didn’t bring me what I expected it to bring me. I would rather be home with my family.
“That why I made the decision. It’s just something I wanted to make sure.’’
Sedlak was quick to say the reasons for stopping now had nothing to do with the Flyers.
“It’s nothing with the organization,’’ he pointed out. “Or with the team or anything like that. It’s strictly me trying to be home and playing a little bit more.’’
Sedlak spent three seasons (2016-2019) in Columbus playing for Tortorella, then headed over to Russia to compete in the KHL (Chelyabinsk Traktor) from 2019-22. Part of the allure of signing with Colorado was because the Avalanche had just won the Stanley Cup and it’s always a kick to play for a winner.
That relationship lasted just three games before the Avs put him on waivers.
“When I came from Russia, I always played there a lot,’’ Sedlak said. “I enjoyed playing a lot, being the guy. I didn’t expect to have that here. I kind of knew how many minutes I was going to get.
“When I signed with Colorado, I knew that I might have a chance to win.’’
Sedlak said one of the reasons he left Columbus in 2019 was because he was getting to an age where it’s not just about being in the NHL, it’s about having fun playing because he didn’t know how many good years he had left.
After 31 games, it’s clear the Flyers are nowhere near a possible playoff berth, much less Stanley Cup contention, so that might have changed the dynamic a bit.
Ultimately, though, it was more about personal happiness and a yearning to go home.
“The last few weeks I was trying to figure it out. . .if I enjoyed it,’’ he said. “If the hockey is kind of giving me what I want. I feel like my family has sacrificed a lot for me being here. I really haven’t been home for the last 12 years.
“Right now the negatives overrate the positives.’’
Fletcher told Sedlak he had solidified a spot on the team and perhaps gently asked him to reconsider. But the player’s mind was made up.
“They like me for what I do,’’ Sedlak said. “They kind of wanted me to change my mind. But I told him all my reasons and they were good enough to let me go. I’m happy for that.’’
Make no mistake, it’s not easy walking away from the world’s best league when you still have the skills to play in it.
“It’s easier and it makes it harder, too,’’ he explained. “If I knew I can’t play, it would be ‘OK, I’m just not good enough. Just go home.’ That’s fine, too. This makes it kind of harder because I think I played pretty well. I was happy with how I played. So it makes it easier and harder, both ways.’’
Tortorella indicated Sedlak was becoming a valuable player but understands the decision.
“He’s going home,’’ the coach said. “He’s done playing here. He’s a good man. I’ve known him for a number of years. We’re going to miss him.’’
>Hayes a healthy scratch
After benching Kevin Hayes for the third period of Thursday night’s 2-1 win at New Jersey, Tortorella decided to make the forward a healthy scratch for Saturday night’s home game against the New York Rangers.
Hayes is the team’s top scorer on a team which doesn’t score much so obviously this wasn’t an easy decision.
“It’s kind of a big picture (thing),’’ Tortorella said, “as far as team concept. I can’t keep looking by things because we’re worried about scoring. “I have to look at the big picture of what this team is going to be, what the standard is of how we have to play.
“That far outweighs what offense we lose in a particular game.’’
With Hayes benched and Sedlak off the roster, forward Kieffer Bellows was recalled from the Phantoms.
Defenseman Tony DeAngelo, who was on bereavement leave from the recent road trip due to the passing of his grandmother (JoAnn DeAngelo), was scheduled to return to action for the Rangers game.
“It’s nice to be around people after something like this happens,’’ said DeAngelo, a South Jersey native. “She didn’t know much about hockey but she turned into a big hockey fan. I was glad to see she was able to come to the first game here.’’
With DeAngelo back in the lineup, Justin Braun was announced as a healthy scratch.
Forward Cam Atkinson, who has missed the entire season due to an upper-body injury, was placed on Injured Reserve on Saturday morning. . .Carter Hart, coming off a 48-save game in New Jersey, was scheduled to start in goal against New York. . .After missing one game due to an upper-body injury, center Patrick Brown was scheduled to return to action.