Samuel Morin

Flyers' Robert Hagg on demoted Samuel Morin: 'He's going to be up here somehow'

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Flyers' Robert Hagg on demoted Samuel Morin: 'He's going to be up here somehow'

VOORHEES, N.J. — Robert Hagg now has a room all to himself following the demotion of Samuel Morin.

The two rookie defensemen roomed together throughout the Flyers' nine-day road trip and Hagg probably got to know Morin’s innermost thoughts and feelings more than anyone.

“I didn’t talk to him [Wednesday],” Hagg said Thursday. “Of course I felt for him. We’ve been teammates for two years now. We’ve known each other for at least four. Of course, I’m feeling for him. There’s not much I can do. I’m just playing my game, but I know he’s going to be up here somehow.” 

As expected, the Flyers made the decision Wednesday afternoon to reassign Morin to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, where he will begin his third year of professional hockey (see story). Morin, along with fellow defenseman Brandon Manning, was a healthy scratch over the final three games of the season-opening four-game road trip. Eight healthy defensemen was simply one too many for the Flyers moving forward.

“It’s tough to go with a group of eight and really get any rhythm and start to define roles — have players feeling comfortable and confident in those roles,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “When there’s two guys not playing, that’s a little more difficult. When there’s one guy, that’s competition. This is a good group of seven that we can grow with.”  

The battle for the two roster spots on the blue line, involving Hagg, Morin and Travis Sanheim, was one of the most highly-contested competitions throughout training camp and the preseason. While Hakstol reaffirmed his defensive pairings were “all about a mix, a mix of different abilities,” he’ll be keeping close tabs on Morin down in the AHL. 

“There were some specific things that we’re going to ask him to go back and really concentrate at working on and improving,” Hakstol said. “He’s got to do his part to show us he’s the most ready to come in and help us when called upon. When that is, I can’t answer that for you.”

While Morin firmly believed he performed well enough to earn a place in the lineup, he never let it affect his relationship with his roommate.

“Sam is happy for me,” Hagg said. “Every time we were in the room, he said, 'You played really good. Keep doing that,’ or, ‘Good luck tonight. Keep playing like you did.’

“If you’re getting pissed off at each other, it’s not going to help you. I can tell you that. Of course, everyone wants to play, and it’s not up to us. The only thing we can do is perform as good as we can, and then it’s up to the coaches and the staff to decide who’s going to play or not.”

Hagg knows it’s not a bad idea to stay on Morin’s good side. The Phantoms' opponents won’t have that luxury.

Flyers send Samuel Morin to Phantoms

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USA Today Images

Flyers send Samuel Morin to Phantoms

The Flyers on Wednesday afternoon assigned defenseman Samuel Morin to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, officially securing Travis Sanheim's spot on the NHL roster.

Morin served as a healthy scratch during the Flyers' four-game season-opening road trip. The Flyers carried eight defensemen out west because of an upper-body injury to Shayne Gostisbehere, but the third-year defenseman didn't miss a game.

"It's the first time in my career that I've been a healthy scratch and it's pretty hard," Morin said Tuesday in Nashville. "What else can I do? I think it's normal that I'm pretty upset. I just need to keep working hard and see what's going to happen.

"There's not much I can do right now. … I'm sure I can play in this league. If I go back to the AHL, I'm going to just work my ass off like I do all the time. I just want to play in the NHL, honestly."

After their preseason finale, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said defenseman Robert Hagg and center Nolan Patrick earned their spots but didn't say who won the competition for the second opening on defense.

With both Morin and Sanheim scratched for the season opener in San Jose, it remained unclear. Then, in Los Angeles, the Flyers tipped their hat. Sanheim drew into the lineup against the Kings.

Sanheim has played since while Morin sat. There was some thought the Flyers could get one last look at Morin in Anaheim last Saturday following Sanheim had a costly mistake in his NHL debut, but that didn't happen.

Hagg, Morin and Sanheim were competing for two spots in training camp and despite previously indications all three defensemen could make the team, Hextall opted against carried three rookies on the blue line — at least for now.

Morin proved himself as an NHL player during camp, but he falls victim to a numbers game. One NHL scout said Morin is ready and the Flyers' current logjam is “a good problem to have.”

With veterans Brandon Manning and alternate captain Andrew MacDonald here, there's not enough room for Morin, who's strictly a left defenseman, which the Flyers are heavy on.

Whether that is the right decision is up for debate.

There's no question we'll be seeing Morin with the Flyers sooner or later. If an injury hits the Flyers' blue line, he'll come up from Lehigh Valley.

And in that scenario, it'll be hard to see him going back down.