Flyers’ ‘PHD’ line can be physical, heady, determined

Garnet Hathaway

VOORHEES, N.J. – Sometimes it takes a while for a new line to develop some chemistry in training camp and be ready for the regular season.

Such was not the case with the Flyers’ “PHD Line.”

The trio of Ryan Poehling, Garnet Hathaway and Nick Deslauriers knew almost from the very first day of camp they were going to be the Flyers’ new fourth line this season.

They brought a certain energy once they hit the ice and that’s what you need from guys who might be a little short on offensive skill but have plenty of gumption.

“I think the more time you get playing with guys, you start picking up on habits,” said Hathaway, who plays right wing on the line. “Kind of how they see the game. We were fortunate enough to do a lot of practices, scrimmages and just trying to find out what our tendencies are.

“I think that’s helped build a lot of communication and how we react off each other.”

Poehling, a center, triggers any offense the line might generate and Deslauriers is one of the most feared enforcers in the league. It’s a good mix.

“I think each of us does something a little differently,” Hathaway said. “And we find a way to make it mesh and complement each other. I think ‘Poehl’s’ speed opens up a lot and the way ‘Delo’ (Deslauriers) plays creates a lot of space. That can create a lot of turnovers and that leads into the way we want to play.”

These guys seemed destined to play on the same line with one another.

“You know the first day we came in I think we’ve been trying to do the right things in order for that to stay that way,” Hathaway said. “But I don’t think we can get complacent. I want to continue to get better. I think the only way we’ll stay together is if we do well.

“If we stop doing what we need to, we won’t be a line.”

General manager Daniel Briere gets credit for naming the PHD Line. Some people might look at that and say there’s some hidden sarcasm in there because physical players are usually not given credit for being deep thinkers of the game.

“The more time you spend with guys and learn how they play, you’ll be able to ready them better,” Hathaway reiterated. “I think that allows you to play a little more collectively.”

Hathaway likes to play a physical style and it almost cost him a suspension in a knee-to-knee hit on Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski last Thursday night.

But he was able to get away with just a $5,000 suspension, the most allowable by the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

“I was really happy I didn’t get suspended,” said Hathaway, who in recent years had played for both Boston and Washington. “It’s a league decision, something I can’t control. I don’t think anyone ever wants to get a suspension.”

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About Wayne Fish 2473 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.