Flyers

Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Flyers general manager Ron Hextall defended his coach, Dave Hakstol, on the recent benchings of rookie Travis Konecny and sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere on Wednesday.
 
Coincidentally, Konecny will miss the next four to six weeks with a left ankle and knee injury (see story). 
 
Gostisbehere practiced with the first unit power play unit on Wednesday at Skate Zone. He, Hakstol and teammates said they weren’t sure Ghost would re-enter the lineup on Thursday against the Islanders.
 
Hextall said Ghost, who is having a poor offensive season and has struggled defensively down low, can learn from his third benching this season.
 
“There's a lot of lessons that young people have to learn,” Hextall said. “We've all gone through it. I've gone through it; you go through it with your kids. We've all got to learn lessons. This is part of the process of young players growing in the pros. That's all it is. ...
 
“We met with some season ticket holders (Tuesday night) and I think there's a little bit of an overreaction going on right now. These players are young and they sat out. But other guys have sat out too. Matt Read sat out, [Nick Schultz] sat out, other guys have sat out.
 
“It's not like you're just grabbing kids here and sitting them out. You're putting a lineup out there that you think has the best chance to win that night. That's Hak's job. His job is to win the next game.”
 
There's no doubt that both Gostisbehere's and Konency’s confidence has sagged with the benchings, especially Ghost, who was the runner-up last season in the Calder Trophy voting for “Rookie of the Year.”
 
“If a player can't handle a benching, whether it's one of our veterans or one of our younger players, we probably have the wrong players or the wrong people,” Hextall said. This is just part of the process. Is it fun? No. You think Hak wants to sit them out?
 
“You think I want them to sit out? You think the fans want them to sit out? You think the kids want to sit out? Of course not. Neither does Dale Weise or Matt Read or anybody else want to sit out. It's part of the process. It's a learning curve for these two kids and in the end they will be better for it.”
 
Though Hextall did not say it, it’s likely the Flyers will long-term injured reserve (LTIR) Konecny at some point as they have roughly $1 million in salary cap space.
 
Hextall said he wasn’t inclined to call up a player from the Phantoms for Thursday’s game against the Islanders but will have an extra forward here for next week’s road trip to Western Canada.
 
As for finding help via the trade route during Konecny's absence, that’s not likely to happen, Hextall said.
 
“I’d love to replace him, right? It’s not the direction we’re going,” Hextall said. “If something comes up out of the blue … but I don’t see anything out there right now that’s going to replace him.
 
“We do have a couple kids in the minors that are playing well and a couple vets, too. We’ll see where we go, but you never like to lose any player. Travis, he’s a good, young player. He brings a lot of energy too, which is something that we’ll certainly miss.”