VOORHEES, N.J. — Somewhere Scott Laughton's old No. 32 white Roy Halladay jersey he wore as a kid is stored in a closet down in his parents' basement.
“I remember going to Jays games with my dad and watching him and Carlos Delgado and guys like that," Laughton said Wednesday. "It kind of chokes you up a bit. It was really, really tough to see that. I don’t want to see that happen to anyone. It’s definitely a sad time.”
After learning of Halladay’s tragic death, Laughton tweeted:
Laughton grew up in Oakville, Ontario, a Toronto suburb about 20 miles from the Rogers Centre (formerly Skydome), and while hockey has always been Laughton's true passion, attending baseball games was a summertime ritual with his father, Craig Laughton.
His parents were at the stadium the night the Blue Jays and Joe Carter defeated the Phillies in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series to capture Toronto's first ever world championship. Laughton was born seven months later, and by the time he was 8, he was watching arguably one of the organization's best players during his prime years.
"He was the best pitcher in the organization for quite some time," Laughton said of Halladay, "and then he came to the Phillies and did a great job too. Just the way he worked, I read a couple of articles last night where he finished his workouts at 5:30 a.m. and things like that.”
While Laughton never had the opportunity to meet Halladay in person, Claude Giroux did.
Halladay pitched his perfect game in Miami on the same day the Flyers and Blackhawks squared off in Game 1 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final on May 29, 2010, and within a few years, Halladay and Giroux were undoubtedly the two best athletes in their respective sports in the city.
"I talked to him a couple of times," Giroux said. "I was a pretty big Blue Jays fan and the things he did for Toronto. When I came here, he was playing for the Phillies, a good ambassador for the sport.
"I didn’t know him that much, but I never heard anyone say a bad thing about him. When it was game day for him, he was a very focused guy. He did a lot of good things for baseball.”
Before to Thursday night’s game against the Blackhawks, the Flyers will hold a moment of silence in remembrance of Halladay.
Make it three?
Michal Neuvirth was the first guy on the ice for Wednesday's practice and the first player to come off — one indicator he's in line to start Thursday against Chicago.
"I've been here in this league for a while," Neuvirth said, "so I know when I have a good practice and when I don't, I'm trying to push myself even harder."
If he does start, it would mark the first time this season Neuvirth has started three consecutive games. He missed Monday's practice but has put in a couple days of hard work.
"He's gone out and made a lot of good saves at key times," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of Neuvirth. "Sometimes the focus is on goals that go in or goals that are given up and that has a way of having people forget some of the saves that are made throughout a game at key times. I think Neuvy has been a pretty consistent figure for us and has battled hard for us."
It will be up to Neuvirth and the rest of the Flyers to continue one of the longest streaks in the NHL when the Blackhawks come to the Wells Fargo Center Thursday night.
The Flyers have beaten the 'Hawks in their last 13 regular-season games in Philadelphia.
Chicago's last win in Philadelphia came on Nov. 9, 1996, which will mark exactly 21 years to the day the Blackhawks left South Broad Street with a 4-1 win over the Flyers in a game that saw former Flyer Jeff Hackett stop 33 shots in a winning effort.