York, Hughes friendly foes for special meeting

Joel Farabee (left) and Scott Laughton share a lighter moment at Saturday afternoon's press conference at MetLife Stadium. (Photo by Wayne Fish)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The best of friendships are usually put aside when the two parties square off in a very meaningful hockey game.

In the case of Flyers defenseman Cam York and New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes, both young men understood that situation in Saturday night’s Stadium Series game at MetLife Stadium.

The two were teammates on the marvelous 2018-19 U.S. Hockey National Team Development Program’s U18 squad and the only underage players to do so.

As a matter of fact, at 17 years of age, York was the youngest defenseman ever to make a USHNTD team.

For Saturday night, there was no texting going on.

“It’s cool,” York said before the game. “We grew up together. We played two years together in the program. So we’re really good buddies. I’m excited for him. I know he’s excited to be here and playing in this game like we all are. It’s just going to be a really fun atmosphere.”

Hughes is considered one of the NHL’s brightest up-and-coming stars. Back in his NTDP days, he recorded 76 assists to break the record, eclipsing totals previously posted by young stars such as Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews.

There are actually three Hughes brothers playing in the NHL and Luke is also a member of the Devils (Quinn plays for Vancouver). York considers himself a friend of the entire Hughes family.

“(Parents) Jim and Ellen have raised a great family,” York said. “Two summers ago I trained with the whole family. They’re great, true professionals. The whole family is just fun to be around.”

>Ready like Rocky

The entire Flyers roster ditched the usual pre-game dress code and showed up on the team bus to MetLife Stadium dressed up like the Sylvester Stallone lead character in the 1976 movie “Rocky.”

When they jumped off the bus at MetLike, it was good for a few laughs but it was also a team unity thing.

“I think we just wanted something that people from Philly were going to like and get behind,” Joel Farabee explained. “Obviously it’s great fun to do this. We’re super excited, run in here and get things going.”

>No distractions

There are plenty of distractions at these big games but the Flyers have been trying to keep their focus on the business at hand.

Scott Laughton, who attended a pre-game press conference with Farabee, said the idea is to not let the sideshows catch their attention.

“Yesterday was pretty awesome,” Laughton said of Friday’s practice, which included a players’ families skate. “It’s something you look back on, something that’s really cool.

“But today it’s all business. There’s not much going on. The guys know how important not only this game is but the final stretch here and this is part of it. We know where we’re at, we know where the Devils are at. We’ll continue to try to put our best foot forward and keep playing good hockey.”

>Keeping it simple

The Flyers have been emphasizing offense over the past couple months but they didn’t want to do so at the expense of defense. Outdoor games tend to get a little wide-open at times. The Flyers wanted to steer away from that.

“I think all year we’ve been trying to stress to stay simple,” Laughton said. “I think we’ve done that throughout some of our roadtrips. Tonight’s no different. It’s a spectacle. We’re probably going to have some butterflies in the first five minutes but once the puck is dropped, it’s game on.”

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About Wayne Fish 2426 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.