After finally fulfilling his dream of playing in the NHL, Carter Hart was cool as a cucumber and confident as he started again and again for the Flyers, in just his first Professional season.
You would think he would be scattered-brained after being called up to the big club on December 17, 2018. Amidst the whirlwind end to 2018 and thunderous start to the new year, Hart was actually living in Hotel rooms, yet somehow, the rookie remained composed, claiming it’s “Part of the business.”
“I’m in a hotel, so I don’t have a pitch handy (Laughing and Giggling). I eat a to-go box (Laughing), and this season has gone by quick,” Hart stated to me in an interview in January. “It’s been a lot of fun so far. I love it here. They have a great staff, great facility. I’m having a lot of fun here.”
This kid electrified the fan base in a down season, and Hart cemented himself as the main guy next season between the pipes for the orange and black, and for the foreseeable future for that matter. All this by wearing a unique number…#79.
It’s unique for a young man named Connor Parkkila. Parkkila suffers from HFA (High-Functioning-Autism), and boy does he love Hart. I asked Parkkila if Hart was his idol, Parkkila replies, “Yes.” I then asked Parkkila why, “Because he is very nice,” he states. Hart has developed a bond with Parkkila that stems from Hart’s days with the Everett Silvertips. Parkkila wore a #79 jersey at a Silvertips game in 2016, after the Flyers gave Hart a #79 jersey at Developmental Camp that Summer. Parkkila was the first person to wear a #79 jersey with Hart’s name on it, but in this case, it was a Silvertips jersey. The two have developed a special bond ever since.
The two shared video messages throughout this past Flyers season, and it makes Parkkila feel like he’s one of the guys. Parkkila is a young man that kids look up to, as he plays the sport of hockey himself. As a matter of fact, he took his first penalty this past weekend, according to his mom April Parkkila. Connor is thrilled kids look up to him, “(He laughed), and then said it’s just super cool.” My two nephews are two of those young Flyers fans that look up to Connor, and I think it’s because they can relate to him. No matter how many kids look up to Connor, Connor’s family and his mom April Parkkila in particular, couldn’t be more thrilled to have Hart in Connor’s life, “Carter’s kindness and friendship is a great example for Connor,” April Parkkila states, “It provides us an example to remind Connor about.”
Hart is a person unlike many athletes in Philadelphia. He will sign as many autographs as possible, give sticks to kids, meets and greets the hard-working fans of Philly, Hart just appears to be one of us. The Parkkila’s are right, Hart appears to be one of the nicest people on the planet:
Hart was phenomenal for the Silvertips in 2017-18. For the season, he registered a 1.60 GAA, and a .947 Save Percentage. He also registered his 22nd career shutout for the Silvertips, and with that, he happened to break the Silvertips shutout record that was previously held by Leland Irving with 21. For his efforts, Hart also finished the year as CHL Goaltender of the year, and also won a Gold Medal for his nation of Canada as a member of Team Canada for the U20 WJC tournament. Hart loves to practice, and this could have been one main reason for his successful season.
For the 2018-19 season, Hart started with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. In his first Professional season, he registered a 3.05 GAA, and a .901 Save Percentage in 17 games played for the Phantoms. On December 17, 2018, he received a call-up of a lifetime when he was recalled by the Flyers.
Some people said he wasn’t ready for the big show, while others thought he was. Hart was built for this moment in the NHL, and he really showed why he was considered the savior of the franchise. In just his first 9 games played he was 3-5-1, has a 2.54 GAA, and owned a .916 Save Percentage. Should we be surprised? Absolutely not. For Connor, it was a joy to watch Hart play this past year, “Yes! I love seeing Carter play.”
Through all of this Hart is built as advertised. Hart’s a fine young man, that is just flat-out good. He has been everything and then some for the Flyers organization thus far. According to Hart, the Flyers told him to become the best Goalie in the CHL. Well, he did just that as he was the CHL Goaltender of the year twice. He’s as classy as they come, and his good ole’ pal Connor Parkkila hopes to play hockey one day because of Hart, “YES!! Center.”
Special thanks to April and Connor Parkkila for sharing their thoughts on Carter Hart. Without you both, this article wouldn’t have been made possible. I look forward to meeting you both next season. Lettttttts Go Flyerssssssss
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports