In the offseason, Zack MacEwen was eligible for arbitration.
He became a fan favorite last season. The Philadelphia Flyers plucked MacEwen from the waiver wire. Bringing energy to the fourth line in a listless lineup, he was one of the few bright spots in a dark, lost season. He earned the Gene Hart Memorial Award, a nod to the tenacity and heart he exhibits on the ice.
Mike Yeo was the head coach overseeing MacEwen. John Tortorella, and the standard set, are lightyears different from the Yeo era. Anything MacEwen proved last season needs reiteration to a new coaching staff.
Avoiding arbitration, MacEwen signed a 1yr/$925k contract at the beginning of August. His desire to provide a hardnosed presence on the fourth line seemed ideal for a Tortorella lineup, especially with Nicolas Deslauriers’ arrival. The Flyers always had an interest in keeping MacEwen, making the decision to place him on waivers nine days ago more curious. Hayden Hodgson and Olle Lycksell both appeared in a Tortorella lineup before MacEwen. Hodgson lasted one game before he cleared waivers.
“You want them to bang; you want them to chase things. I think Nic has done a really good job, the first two games, of changing some momentum of the game. [He] gets into a fight, we have a good reaction, we score. [He] has a couple of big hits the first game, we end up scoring a couple of goals back-to-back. He’s standing in the blue. He’s bringing attention to himself. I think that’s where that line is going to get more minutes. They can get it tilted that way and change momentum.”John Tortorella; 10/18/2022
Recalled before Philadelphia takes the show on the road, MacEwen occupies the 4RW role. He swapped with Lycksell, who served that role in the victory versus the Vancouver Canucks.
“No one’s really earned that spot, [we’re] looking at different people. I thought Mac’s camp was going on the right trajectory. I want to give him an opportunity. [A] bigger guy, I want to see if we get a little bit more forechecking.”John Tortorella; 10/18/2022
Throughout his career, MacEwen fought for everything. The fans at the Wells Fargo Center became familiar with that sentiment almost immediately. Last season, the energy seemed drained from the Flyers often. MacEwen fought to provide a spark. His level of care never wavered, which Tortorella values.
Speaking of values, Tortorella noted that MacEwen did not have a bad attitude about beginning this season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Repeatedly, Tortorella has stated that the AHL is such a great league, a valuable resource, to compete and pace towards the NHL. MacEwen cited as much, in complete agreement with the bench boss in Philadelphia:
“I have to earn everything I get. Nothing’s going to be given to me. I just look at it as a way to go down and work on my game and use it to get better. Obviously, try to build some confidence and take what I can from that experience. Of course, you want to make the team on opening night, but I know where I’m at, and I know I can progress my game.”Zack MacEwen; 10/17/2022
Sometimes, a player’s attitude could be affected when they’re constantly dodging the waiver wire, dipping into the AHL. MacEwen remains the professional that Tortorella requires. Before MacEwen revisited the AHL, he had a meeting with Tortorella. He emphasized a great attitude is a prerequisite and complimented MacEwen:
“His attitude better be right, or he’s just not coming back up. I didn’t expect that at all, and that’s not what happened. I talked to him; he was great. If we’re going to worry about attitude, about players being sent down there, they’ll get stuck down there. Mac was great.”John Tortorella; 10/17/2022
Currently, he’s back.
Tonight, the Flyers visit the Tampa Bay Lightning before battling the Florida Panthers tomorrow. MacEwen will make his 2022-2023 debut.
(Photo by Chris Kohley/Icon Sportswire)