Imagine yourself, an NHL player, traded at the deadline to another NHL franchise before the suspension of the regular season caused by a pandemic. A change of scenery takes time to get used to under normal circumstances. For Derek Grant, his journey to Philadelphia has been anything but that. He’s had a career season during 2019-2020 with the Anaheim Ducks and Philadelphia Flyers. To talk about those things and more, we caught up with Grant on a conference call.
The Obstacles of Pandemic Hockey
The challenge for a professional hockey player is to stay in “hockey shape.” This is practically obtained by having the resources to skate at a rink. In these times of a pandemic, therein lies an issue. Some NHL players have had the opportunity to skate in private rinks and stay in shape for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. Notably, Ivan Provorov and Jakub Voracek have been able to train, but the availability of a rink has been a challenge for Derek Grant.
“Everything was pretty shut down early. I was able to get eight to ten sessions in out in California before I flew out here. Then I got here a couple weeks before we started phase three, so fifteen skates or so probably. It’s different.”Derek Grant; 7/14/20
This isn’t a disadvantage for Derek Grant. A lot of players have had the accessibility to a rink like him. He’s been able to take care of his body at home with his family. Being around his family allowed Grant to get his mind in a good state while resting from the regular season. He echoed the same sentiments that Brian Elliott mentioned on his conference call.
“You can’t say enough about everyone’s families back home and the sacrifices they’re having to make for us to be here and chase our dream and to after the Cup.”Derek Grant; 7/14/20
That brings a different dimension to the “we’re in this together” mentality. Applying that ideology to the pandemic means that we should all be working together to isolate COVID-19. Here, Derek Grant and Brian Elliott specifically address that without the support of family and friends at home, more players likely would have opted out of the playoffs. Their support is incredible. The decision alone for Grant to be with the Philadelphia Flyers means that he is “all in” on a Stanley Cup bid.
Fitting In Philly
“Fortunately enough we have a pretty close group here. I thought for the most part we stayed in touch whether it was once a week or a couple times a week.”Derek Grant; 7/14/20
A word to describe the Philadelphia Flyers locker room in 2019-2020 is “close.” From players like Kevin Hayes to Derek Grant, a “close” group of players is synonymous with the Flyers franchise. That extends to Nate Thompson, another player traded to Philadelphia at the deadline. That close window of time when Thompson and Grant arrived in Philadelphia created a bond. Together, they’ve found their way into the Flyers team chemistry.
“For me and Nate, it was fortunate that we were able to get a good chunk of games in, seven it was. Just start feeling good and feeling a part of it. Obviously, it was a long break, and you stay involved. I came back a little bit early to be around the guys and hang out off the ice and skate with them on the ice as well.”Derek Grant; 7/14/20
An Eye On the Future
Reviewing the body of work Derek Grant produced this season, he’s had a breakout season. His combined efforts with the Anaheim Ducks and the Philadelphia Flyers led to a career-high in points and goals. Seven games is a small sample size, but Grant made an early impression with five points as a Flyer. He was traded to a playoff contender. Coming to Philadelphia brought new life into his recent NHL campaign.
“I think anytime that you’re traded from a non-playoff team to a playoff team right at the deadline, it’s kind of like a second season starts for you. That’s kind of the way I looked at it. I tried to keep momentum going from what I had been doing and how I had been playing and bring it here.”Derek Grant; 7/14/20
Derek Grant has accomplished what he set out to do. In a shortened season, Grant reached career highs in scoring categories. His game offers some similarities to what Philadelphia has come to love about Kevin Hayes. Grant is an attacking forward on the penalty kill. A burning question has become whether or not the Flyers will re-sign Grant to an extension this off-season.
“We’re all lucky to be here right now and have this chance. For us, we just want to take advantage of that and worry about next year, whenever that time comes.”Derek Grant; 7/14/20
We’ll have to wait and see. If you were to ask me, I think signing Derek Grant to an extension is a logical step. The task at hand is winning a Stanley Cup. A lot can change between now and the end of the playoffs. Grant, like the rest of us, will have his answer regarding his future with the Philadelphia Flyers in due time.
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