CHERRY HILL, N.J. — Shayne Gostisbehere still hasn't hit his 24th birthday.
There are a lot of things this young Flyers defenseman has to learn about the history in the city he plays and the organization that employs him.
When the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association announced in November he had been chosen the “Pro Athlete of the Year” for 2015-16, "Ghost" thought it was pretty cool. But he didn’t really grasp the significance.
Until someone pointed out that athletes such as Joe DiMaggio, Muhammad Ali, Wilt Chamberlain, Bobby Clarke and Wayne Gretzky had won it in the past.
“There is absolutely a tremendous honor,” Gosisbehere said Friday night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where he accepted the award the PSWA’s 113th banquet.
“My uncle today was telling of past people who won the award and I said ,‘Really?’ I didn’t grasp until now I am starting to realize just how much of an honor this is. My teammates told me not to mess up the speech.”
He had no formal speech, nor did he have help writing it.
“I’m winging it,” Gostisbehere said. “Sometimes, that’s the best way.”
Gostisbehere finished second in the final Calder Trophy balloting last season as the NHL's Rookie of the Year. He joined the Flyers in November 2015 after an injury felled veteran defenseman Mark Streit. He scored 17 goals — a club record for a rookie defenseman.
His 15-game point streak was also a club and league record for a rookie blueliner, while his 46 points led all rookie D-men. With "Ghost" in the lineup last season, the Flyers were 34-19-11. Without him, they were 7-8-3.
He's had a tough time, being benched three times and will sit out Saturday's game against Los Angeles, as well.
From the best of times to the worst of times …
“Some things aren’t going my way this year. But what’s a good story without a little adversity, right? It’s not going my way but it’s how you respond," Gostisbehere said.
“I could take the easy way out and get mad at the coach or myself. I looked at myself in the mirror and realized I could do things better. I will work absolutely as hard as I can. Things are not given. You have to work every day, no matter what it is. That is really setting in with me.
“It’s adversity and I got to weather the storm. … Hard work, plain and simple. I know what got me here. I was skipped over the first year of draft eligibility because I’m a smaller guy, underweight. People said I would never make it to the NHL. I made it.”
Sounds like a kid who intends to stick around a while, too.
Lifetime Humantarian Award
The Flyers' Wives received the Ed Snider Lifetime Humantarian Award for their tireless devotion to eradicating cancer and blood diseases for the past generations.