Seeler would like to remain a Flyer if the fates allow

Nick Seeler

      VOORHEES, N.J. – For a guy who once questioned if he still wanted to play hockey, Nick Seeler has come quite a long way.

      The Flyers defenseman is having one of those “walk year” seasons, leading the Flyers in blocked shots, plus-minus and all-around inspirational play.

      He’s one of those players who, as soon as he steps on the ice, spectators want to keep an eye on because something cataclysmic is bound to happen.

      Which is one of the main reasons why many Flyers followers have their fingers crossed Seeler, who is unsigned for next season and could become an unrestricted free agent, won’t be moving to a new address at or before the March 8 trade deadline.

      For his part, Seeler would love to stay here. He’s put in the work to help make the Flyers a contender again and he’s the type who would enjoy seeing the job through.

      Like his frequent partner, Sean Walker, Seeler knows hockey is a business and the team’s brass has already made it known that not just pending free agents, but everybody, is on that “we’ll listen to offers” list.

      Walker said on Monday he is just trying to focus on hockey because any decisions about his future are out of his control.

      “I’m in a similar mindset,” Seeler said after Tuesday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center. “You control what you can and try not to think about it too much. Just play your game, go out and try to help the team win.”

      By now, it’s been pretty well chronicled that Seeler took the 2020-21 season off from the NHL. The 2011 fifth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Wild had some internal doubts about wanting to play again.

      It turns out it took some soul-searching and self-questioning about his motives for wanting to go on. A man of deep religious faith, he wasn’t sure he wanted to continue to play a sport which some say borders on violent in nature.

      “It’s funny how life works sometimes,” he said with a chuckle. “A big part of my life is my faith as a Christian. God has a plan for me. A lot of things were up in the air so I took off. It’s fun to look back and see how things worked out in Philly. I just love it here. It feels like home.

      “I’ve been very blessed and grateful to be with such a good organization.”

      Seeler has always had a good eye for blocking shots but this year he’s taken it up to another level. No doubt coach John Tortorella has played a role in this because he said at the beginning of the season he wanted more blocks and obviously Seeler took the message to heart.

       Pending Tuesday action, Seeler’s 164 blocks were still leading the NHL.

      “You know, blocking shots is part of our team identity,” Seeler noted. “He (Tortorella) emphasizes that’s just the way we have to play. And I certainly think wanting to get in front of pucks and keeping pucks out of your net is important.

      “There’s certainly some technique to it – trying to get into certain lanes. But I think at the end of the day it’s just the way we have to play.”

      Teammate Sean Couturier said Seeler’s willingness to make physical sacrifices inspires teammates.

      “He’s a guy who sacrifices his body for the team,” Couturier said. “He does whatever he can to help the team. Those guys are just well-respected in the locker room. His intensity, his attitude, he’s just a great pro. I remember him coming here on a tryout, I believe. He just works so hard, battles hard in practice. It kind of motivates other guys to push themselves hard. A great pro for us. Good on him.”

      Tortorella just loves these self-made man stories. He coaches with emotion, so why wouldn’t he care about a player like Seeler who competes with a heart-and-soul work ethic?

      “He’s just an easy guy to pull for, one of our better players blue line in,” the coach said. “Everybody thinks Seeler is a banger, blocks shots. . .he’s not going to have a lot of great offensive numbers but he’s been one of our most effective players getting pucks to the net.

      “Guys like him are so important when building a standard and how you are as a pro. Anything that happens to him out of the ordinary, you’re happy for him.”

      Taking that year off and then coming back caught Tortorella’s eye.

      “It’s a will,” Tortorella said. “He’s a nut job, as intense a player as I’ve seen. I love him. I have so much respect for how he’s gone about it. When I first came here (fall of 2022), no one had him on a depth chart. People said he was a hard-nosed guy. But he wasn’t penciled in by any means. I think he and Walker have been our best pair.”

     If Seeler should get past the trade deadline, he would love to be re-signed.

      “At the end of the day, this is where I want to be,” he said. “I want to be a Flyer. I love where the organization is going and the group we have.

      “I’m not sure what the future holds but I would love to be here for it.”

      >Short shots

      Tyson Foerster (lower-body injury) took part in his first full practice on Tuesday but was wearing a no-contact jersey and is doubtful for Wednesday’s game at Chicago.

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About Wayne Fish 2472 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.