Distraction last thing Flyers need right now

Ivan Provorov
      No matter what the sport, when 20 people have to answer for the actions of one, it’s never a good thing.
      Case in point: The Ivan Provorov no-show for Pride Night activities on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
      Provorov chose not to partake in a pre-game skate and the wearing of a Pride Night jersey during warmups.
      By the time the game against the Anaheim Ducks was over, social media was already lit up like one of those big-city 100-foot Christmas trees.
      Of course, coach John Tortorella had to spend about 90 percent of his post-game press conference fielding questions about Provorov’s decision not to get involved (based on his Russian Orthodox religious beliefs).
      Down the hallway, players such as Kevin Hayes and Scott Laughton were forced to answer similar queries. They both looked like they were headed in for some root canal work.
      Wednesday was a day off but the “meet the press” continued at Thursday morning’s pre-game skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J.
      Instead of talking about that evening’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Tortorella was cornered into using most of his time defending Provorov’s right to stage a silent boycott.
      The coach said he didn’t think all of these discussions would have an adverse effect on his team. In fact, he suggested it might have a unifying effect on his club.
      James van Riemsdyk, who along with Laughton organized the Pride Night event, basically said the same thing. He believes any sort of resentment or differences of opinion can be settled by healthy conversations.
      Keeping all that in mind, the timing of this incident is what becomes a bit troublesome.
      The Flyers entered the game against the last-place Blackhawks having won eight of their last 10 games, the only two losses coming against powerhouses Boston and Toronto.
      Everyone seemed on the same page. Tortorella had four lines rolling. Reserve goaltender Sam Ersson posted a 5-0-0 mark to start his NHL career (tied for second-longest unbeaten streak to get out of the gate in Flyers history). The team even ran its winning streak on the road to five games, the longest in over three years.
      Then, perhaps by no mere coincidence, two days after “Provorov-gate,” the Flyers went out and played one of their least inspired games of the season. According to their coach, they looked flat, lacked energy and didn’t seem engaged, even though they had a chance to go over the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 15 and stay within five points of a playoff spot.
      It would be a shame if all the work Tortorella and his staff have done over the first half of the season to get this team to play the right way were to somehow get sidetracked by something that isn’t even really hockey-related.
      The Flyers were headed for Detroit on Saturday night against the Red Wings where there figured to be a lot less media asking questions. Maybe the whole thing will begin to blow over, which would be good from a Flyers perspective.
      In the meantime, the Flyers say they will continue to have conversations, presumably to clear the air over matters such as these.
      Hopefully, for their sake, they can regroup and get the good vibe going again.
      >Short shots
      The NHL added a dozen players to the All-Star Game rosters, including three from each division, but the Flyers’ Travis Konecny did not make the Metro Division cut, even though he has already tied his career high for goals (24) and is on a 50-goal pace for the season. . .On Friday, the Flyer recalled backup goaltender Felix Sandstrom from the Phantoms after he completed his two-week conditioning assignment and returned Ersson to the AHL team, despite his undefeated record over the past month of action.
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About Wayne Fish 1948 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.