A lot of hockey players like to play soccer with each other in the hallways of an arena before a game.

For players, it's a fun way to bond, loosen up and sharpen coordination.

But you won't ever see Ivan Provorov kicking the ball with the boys. Not since early on in the defenseman's rookie year during 2016-17.

As a 19-year-old, in his third career game, Provorov was a minus-5 and the Flyers lost to the Blackhawks, 7-4. Provorov badly lost his footing on one Chicago goal and Claude Giroux came over to uplift the teenager.

Provorov didn't play up to his high standards in October 2016 — and he still remembers it.

My first year here, I think starting from the third game, I didn’t really have my best four or five games in a row," Provorov said Wednesday in a video interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia's Taryn Hatcher. "I played soccer, and I was like, ‘I’ve got to do something.’ So I changed it up, stopped playing soccer, picked it up and started playing well, started playing my game, and I was like, ‘I guess I’m not touching the soccer ball anymore.’

As a joke, apparently the Flyers' equipment staff would occasionally hide the ball in Provorov’s gear.

“Yeah, it drove me nuts," Provorov said with a laugh. "I’d be like, ‘Hey, come get this out of my stall because I ain’t touching it.’”


Hey, it has worked for Provorov.

And Giroux still helps him. When asked which teammate he likes defending the least in practice, Provorov picked the Flyers' captain.

“Maybe G because if he gets one by you, he doesn’t stop talking about it," Provorov said. "And lets you know, too.”

Tough love — that's a good captain.

How about Provorov's favorite teammate in practice?

“G, too, because when you do shut him down, you can let him know, too,” Provorov said.

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