Two years ago on this day, the future of the Flyers' franchise changed. Carter Hart, with the weight of a franchise’s decades-long struggle to find its goaltender of the future, was called up and anointed the franchise goaltender before having played a game.
In the two years since, Hart has dealt with more adversity than many goaltenders deal with in an entire career. For starters, his first season wasn’t a full season. After being called up in December, Hart arrived in full force, giving the league and Flyers fans a glimpse into the future. Then he got injured during a game in Montreal, so in a short period of time, Hart dealt with the weight of a franchise on his shoulders and his first injury. The Flyers fell short of the playoffs.
Hart’s second season will be remembered less for that and more for the COVID-19 pandemic interrupting the season in March. Hart played well for much of the season before the pause; he did go through some growing pains, but overcame them to the tune of a 24-13-3 record with a 2.42 goals-against average. The league pause meant Hart’s second season wouldn’t be a traditional NHL season either, as Hart has yet to start and end an 82-game season.
Despite not experiencing a normal season in his two years in the league, Hart did get his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs — valuable experience for the young netminder and he shined. Back-to-back shutouts in the Flyers' series against the Canadiens in the Toronto bubble, a feat only two Flyers goaltenders have ever achieved, and one of them is named Bernie Parent. Any time you’re in the company of Parent in your first two years in the league, you’re doing something right.
Entering the bubble, the questions, if any, surrounded Hart’s tendency to be dominant on home ice and less so on the road. However, those questions went away quickly as Hart was excellent in the bubble.
Hart’s third season won’t be a normal one either as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the landscape of sports. However, given the amount of adversity Hart has already dealt with in his short career, he’ll be ready for whatever curveballs this season throws at him.
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