With the NHL in the midst of its offseason, we're going to take a fun look at one thing Flyers fans shouldn't be thankful for on Thanksgiving 2020. On Wednesday, we provided something to be thankful for.
Black Friday will be odd without Flyers fans flocking to the Wells Fargo Center for post-turkey fun. The Flyers had hosted a game the day after Thanksgiving for 14 straight seasons, so this Black Friday won't feel the same.
For the Flyers, the 2020-21 season also won't feel the same without Matt Niskanen.
The Stanley Cup champion defenseman made a mark in his one and only season with the Flyers during 2019-20. Part of the mark was etched by a memorable Black Friday performance in which Niskanen found himself with a bloody face 7:23 into the game and 15 stitches before the start of the second period.
After a shot deflected off his visor and face, Niskanen returned to the game with a caged helmet. He finished with two assists and a plus-4 rating in 17:11 minutes as the Flyers went on to beat the Red Wings, 6-1.
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” Niskanen said.
Flyers fans won't be thankful for missing out on one more season of Niskanen's experience and all-situation services. The 33-year-old retired following the 2019-20 campaign and the Flyers have the tall task of replacing his responsibilities. Niskanen's decision should absolutely be respected, but the void it leaves is sizable because the veteran with 140 games of playoff experience was that valuable.
While Niskanen's $5.75 million cap hit for 2020-21 came off the Flyers' books, the flat cap era doesn't make things easier for the Flyers or anyone else. Spending to fill holes is not nearly as feasible compared to years past.
The Flyers have to say so long and thank you to Niskanen. To his absence and the stagnant cap? Not so much.
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