ELMONT, N.Y. – Ronnie Attard is one of those defensemen you don’t really notice. Until you need him.
Such was the case a couple years ago when the Flyers were short on D-men due to injuries and gave him a call. The 2019 third-round draft choice (72nd overall) did his job over 15 NHL games, registering two goals/4 points with a respectable minus-2.
Last season, things were a little different. He was only called up for a pair of Flyers games but managed to play in 68 games for the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the numbers were impressive: 12 goals/32 points with a plus-10.
Attard played a big role in the Phantoms’ modest success last season as the team qualified for the playoffs for the first time in a number of years.
This season, in Philadelphia, the prospects of earning an opening night job for the 24-year-old native of White Lake, Michigan look about the same. At best, Attard is probably eighth or ninth on the Flyers’ depth chart.
No matter. He will just put his head down in Allentown and wait for someone to take notice.
Attard was in the lineup for Wednesday night’s Flyers-Islanders preseason game at UBS Arena.
“It’s a great opportunity today,” said Attard after the morning skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. “I’m just trying to take it day by day.
“You can’t look too far into the future. I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Just put my best foot forward everyday.”
Attard played college hockey at Western Michigan University. Another fellow graduate, Keith Jones (now the president of hockey operations for the Flyers), refers to the college as the “Harvard of the Midwest.”
That might be stretching it a bit but WMU graduates do seem to think the game well. At least that’s what the Flyers might have been thinking when they drafted him in that third round four years ago.
“I’ve never been a highly talented prospect,” Attard said. “Or one of the key players to keep an eye on. It’s really up to me to contribute, put my head down and work. That’s what has gotten me this far and I have to keep the same approach.”
Attard is never going to be one of those lead-the-rush guys. He uses his size and strength in front of the net and in the corners. Every franchise needs those kinds of guys so Attard’s services will always be in demand at some level.
“Speed, strength. . .that’s pretty much something you try to work on every summer,” he said. “Guys are getting better, getting stronger. So it’s something I want to continue to work on.”
Attard has been paired up with fellow rookie Adam Ginning quite a bit in training camp. The pairing seems to have pretty good chemistry. They hit it off with the Phantoms last season.
“We have very good chemistry,” Attard said. “Off the ice as well. He’s very predictable. If I get caught pinching up, he’s always there sliding over. We complement each other very nicely.”
Ironically, the two could be competing at some point for a job on the Flyers. Any sensitive feelings there?
“You just take it as it is, it’s a business,” Attard said. “You have to do what’s best for them. That doesn’t affect our relationship off the ice.”
Attard has shown flashes of offensive prowess. He has one of the hardest shots on the team and puts it to good use when the opportunity presents itself.
“You don’t want to give up anything defensively,” he said. “But if there’s an opportunity, I’m going to let it rip.”
> York, Atkinson recovering
Both defenseman Cam York and forward Cam Atkinson are listed as day-to-day with minor issues. Neither was scheduled to play Wednesday night at the Islanders. The Flyers’ next preseason game is Friday at Boston. No word yet on either players’ availability for that game. Atkinson was a scratch for Monday night’s game at New Jersey.