With the NHL season now firmly within our sights, preparations are beginning to ramp up. For a team as young as the Philadelphia Flyers, leadership from the vets in the locker room may well be more important than ever, especially those who have been through similar scenarios before. One of those leaders will be Sean Couturier.
Coots was not only a key cog in the Flyers’ dominance last season, but was a member of the team all the way back in 2012-13 when the NHL lockout happened.
“We had a good team. We just got off to a poor start and just couldn’t make up ground in time to make the playoffs.” Couturier said yesterday. “I think it’s important to get off to a good start, get a good camp in and be ready for Game 1. Then go from there. Once you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen. That’s another part of our game where we’ll have to just take another step as the year goes on.”
The 2012-13 campaign being discussed saw the orange and black go 23-22-3 after a sluggish start. Coots scored a career-low 4 goals and +/- in what was his second NHL season, still finding a way to register 15 points across 47 games played. A lot has changed since then, however, and the-then second-year player is now a 28-year-old Selke winner in his prim.
After being nominated once before in 2018, Sean Couturier was finally awarded the Frank J. Selke Award, given annually to the National Hockey League forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game.
Couturier had himself an exceptional year during the 2019/20 season, leading the Flyers in ATOI (19:50.) He was second on the team in scoring with 59 points (22g, 37a.) He was a +21 as well.
He would go on to score two goals and tally seven assists in the playoffs. Two of those assists came during the round-robin, while Coots added a further three assists in the Montreal series and a pair of goals and assists in the New York Islanders series.
The Flyers ultimately fell heartbreakingly short of their ultimate goal, but in what was the first year in a new era of Philadelphia Hockey, there were plenty of positives to take.
“I think anytime you can get into the playoffs, especially win a round and see what it takes to move on, it’s always a great experience.” The prolific forward told reporters. “I think a lot of young guys learned from that. I think it’s important now in my tenth year and being in and out of the playoffs, it’s not something easy and doesn’t come that easy to get into the playoffs and win. You’ve just got to be ready every year and every playoffs. Every chance you get to improve and help the team, that’s what you need to do.”
The Flyers will be playing in a very different-looking division this year. In a group filled with rivals and old foes, the Flyers will have their work cut out for them, playing just seven opponents all year. It’s a challenge that Sean Couturier is ready for.
“I guess every game is more important because you are playing with a new division and fighting for the same playoff spot every night basically. It’s a little bit different. There’s probably more value to each game. It’s going to be a little different. Going through it the lockout year, it’s important to get off to a good start because if you come out of the gates with a poor start, after ten, fifteen games, there are not many games you can catch up. At the same time, it’s going to be divisional games so every point is going to be worth almost that much more. It’s going to be fun. There are going to be some rivalries that are going to build up.”
This season is bound to present a handful of new challenges for the Philadelphia Flyers and they’ll be looking to guys like Sean Couturier to lead the way when times get rough and show the younger players on the roster how to weather the storm.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre