What is Flyers Head Coach Dave Hakstol’s obsession with not playing rookies?


Coming into the season, many believed the Flyers would have a rookie based line-up. With the likes of Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, Sam Morin, and more, the Flyers could have as many as 5 rookies in their opening night line-up.

However, on opening night the Flyers only had 2, Nolan Patrick and Robert Hagg. Fast forward to today and Flyers have 3 in their lineup with an unexpected Tyrell Goulbourne completing the trio.

To put things into better clarity, the Flyers started the season with all their high-praised rookie defenseman on their roster. However, today, there is only one left, Robert Hagg.

Sam Morin was sent down after sitting out all 4-games on the Flyers opening season road-trip. But this is where his season from hell starts.

Morin has had his chances to come up and play. However, he has been hurt at the wrong times with the Phantoms. Whenever a spot opens up on the Flyers, Morin always seems to be hurt. One reason we haven’t seen Morin in the orange & black this year. He did play 2 games before Radko Gudas came back from suspension but that is all for his rookie season so far.

Travis Sanheim has lost out his playing time to everyone’s favorite Brandon Manning. Manning, who has been here for all 3 seasons under Hakstol, seems to have gained a trust from the coach that nobody can see.

Sanheim has been good and sometimes bad at times. But, that is what a rookie season is for. Learn from your bad mistakes and hope for the good times out weigh the bad. Sanheim played in 35 games before he was sent down after sitting out 10 straight games.

Oskar Lindblom started off camp looking like he would man a wing spot aside Nolan Patrick on the Flyers 2nd line. However, after having a rough first 2 preseason games, Lindblom was moved to the extras and eventually sent down as the last roster move for the Flyers before the season.

Lindblom has done nothing but greatness in his time with the Phantoms. But, he was passed up on a recall for Tyrell Goulbourne because Hakstol wanted energy. Lindblom, a rookie, deserves to be on this team right now.

Nolan Patrick had a rough start to his season. He was having trouble adapting to the faster NHL style of play. But, he has found his stride lately. And, for once, Dave Hakstol is actually rewarding a rookie.

After the all-star break, Hakstol rewarded Patrick with a promotion to the Flyers 2nd line. A promotion that was long overdue with Patrick finding his stride as of late. But, it comes after Hakstol punished Patrick multiple times during the season with benching’s multiple times late in games and holding him to under 10 minutes a game for a 4 game stretch.


That is a question that all Flyers fans and the Flyers rookies want an answer too. Lets look at last season to see where this all started.

Anthony Stolarz was recalled for an extended period of time last season due to a Michal Neuvirth injury. However, it took till Stolarz’s 9th game as a backup to see any game time. But, to add to the fire. Stolarz only started 2 games and saw game action in only 4 games in the 25 game stretch his was up for Michal Neuvirth.

Fast forward to this year. Morin, Sanheim, & Hagg were all supposed to crack the lineup at some point this season. However, the only one to steadily be in the line-up is Robert Hagg. Sanheim has played in 35 games and Morin only 2 games.

So the question remains, WHY WONT DAVE HAKSTOL PLAY ROOKIES????

GM Ron Hextall had this to say way back at the beginning of the season to maybe give some clarity on the situation.

“Well, you don’t want any young players not dressing on a regular basis, as we saw last year, with TK and Ghost. Young players can sit out time to time and it can actually do them a world of good. I would say it should be a part of the process, but we aren’t going to keep a young player to sit on the bench the first 30 games.”

So, if that is the case, why do they keep doing it? Why do they keep going back on their words and do the opposite of what they say they are not going to do?

Look at this season with rookies sitting out games.

Taylor Leier – 32 games played 18 scratched in favor of veterans Jori Lehtera or Dale Weise

Sam Morin – 2 games played 6 games scratched in favor of veterans

Travis Sanheim – 35 games played 15 scratched in favor of veteran Brandon Manning

Alex Lyon – 0 starts 11 backups

Oskar Lindblom – 0 games played 50 scratched, 0 games on the roster

Which leads me to the reason for this article. Lets look at yesterday’s game in Washington. Hakstol went with the veteran Michal Neuvirth, who was battling the flu over the all-star break.

Neuvirth looked shaky in the 1st period but didn’t allow a goal. However, Neuvirth gave up an extremely weak goal to start the 2nd period and you know the rest. But, it is what he said after the game that confused myself and many fans.

Doing his postgame interview, Neuvirth mentioned something about not feeling so well after the 1st period. However, he went back out for the start of the 2nd and 3rd after a sickening looking 2nd period.

But, according to his head coach, Hakstol said he was never told about Neuvirth not feeling well at all during the game.

Uhm…… What????

Your the head coach, cant you see from the goals he let in that he wasn’t feeling good and up to the level he needs to be to play in a NHL game?

However, they shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place if Hakstol would have started rookie Alex Lyon instead. Neuvirth sat out practice both Monday and Tuesday due to illness. But, in Hakstol’s mind, somehow he was ready to go the next night?

Which leads me to my conclusion. DAVE HAKSTOL HAS AN ISSUE WITH PLAYING ROOKIES!!!!!!!!

For some reason or another, Dave Hakstol has an issue of playing a rookie over a veteran. If its trust or feeling, I just can’t figure it out.

If it keeps up, the Flyers should just trade their rookie talent for veterans because he will never play them. I can’t believe we have went from a season where we would be seeing our talented young rookie defensemen showing what they got to another weighed down veteran led season.



Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports