VOORHEES, N.J. — Carter Hart quietly left the ice during the first period of the Flyers' three-period training camp scrimmage Tuesday and did not return.
Without making a peep and within the flow of the scrimmage, the 21-year-old franchise goalie exited so harmlessly that Kevin Hayes, Shayne Gostisbehere and Morgan Frost didn't notice he departed.
The reason behind Hart's departure could be anything. It clearly wasn't equipment related because Hart, who allowed three goals before leaving the high-scoring, 13-goal scrimmage, never came back to the bench or ice.
May have been a scoreboard error that forced OT, but Team A in orange still prevails, 7-6 (pretty sure it was 7-5, though). Let’s see if we hear about Carter Hart.— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) July 21, 2020
Goal scorers: pic.twitter.com/HvwRrn1Xli
“I didn’t see it happen, I didn’t even realize he left until someone on the bench said it," Hayes said. "I think it’s nothing too serious. Obviously it’s important to get into shape and get game-ready, but if you have something that’s minor that you don’t want to push, it’s not a big deal to get off the ice like that. We’d rather have him be 100 percent than pushing hard at like 85, 90 percent. Probably a smart decision by him. I don’t think it’s anything major.”
The Flyers did not have an update on Hart, nor are they permitted to reveal specifics, anyway. Because of a mutual agreement between the NHL and NHLPA to respect an individual player's right to medical privacy during this time, teams are not allowed to release specifications for any injuries/illnesses throughout camp or the return-to-play 24-team tournament.
Hart was originally scheduled to address the media Tuesday in a video interview via Webex but that was forced to change, while head coach Alain Vigneault (who doesn't coach the scrimmages) was not available to the media. It's not as if he would be able to say much, either, on Hart's status.
"I noticed that he left the ice, that's all," Flyers assistant coach Ian Laperriere said. "That's what the league wants us to say and that's all I know."
When might we know more on Hart? Wednesday around 10:30 a.m. when the team is scheduled to practice at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone. If Hart is out there, that's great news for the Flyers. If he's not able to practice, the severity of any issue with Hart will still be unknown. The Flyers will likely have a practice update stating the goalie is "unfit to play" or "unable to participate," a verbiage following league rules.
If Hart's departure was injury related, the best-case scenario would be that the netminder felt something minor and took himself out for precautionary reasons. During January, Hart was smart and removed himself from practice with an injury that was later diagnosed as a right lower abdominal strain.
Here's a report by NBC Sports Philadelphia's Flyers Pregame and Postgame Live analyst Colby Cohen.
Im told that Carter Hart had some minor back spasms and it locked up a little during skate today. Nothing major or Covid related. I would think he’d back on the ice in a day or two. #Flyers https://t.co/25BdzSyS2l— Colby Cohen (@ColbyCohen36) July 21, 2020
The Flyers were prudent then with Hart and will certainly err on the side of caution again as the young goalie is a huge part of the club's future and the team also has some time on its side. The Flyers head to the Eastern Conference's hub city Toronto on Sunday and don't play their first round-robin game until Aug. 2, while the first round of the playoffs is set to begin Aug. 11.
Hart and backup goalie Brian Elliott were significant to the Flyers' 2019-20 regular-season turnaround after the team used an NHL record eight goaltenders during a forgettable 2018-19 season.
The 2020 postseason is set to be Hart's first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Everyone knows how important he is to the Flyers' shot at a run.
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