Well, this sucks.
Welcome to irrelevancy for the next 2 and a half months of the hockey season, Flyers fans.
On Monday, the Philadelphia Flyers were eliminated from playoff contention after a 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers. At the peak of the year, they were one of the hottest teams, rattling off 10 straight in December. We here at GNGHockey were even dubbing them The Hottest Team in Hockey. At their lowest point, an inconsistent blob of intrigue, mystery, and mixed messages. The Flyers we’ve grown to know.
So honestly, where do we go from here? Since the 2010 SCF, the Flyers have slumped to the challenge of reaching the playoff heat they gained that season. The face of the franchise, Claude Giroux has declined in productivity for the past three years, and there’s not a lot to make up for it, leaving everyone to wonder if this hell will end anytime soon.
So where do the passionate fans of Philly put their interests now?
At 6’7 and 227lbs why would anyone want to fight Sam Morin?! pic.twitter.com/nQtPJEnxoP
— From The Faceoff (@FromTheFaceoff) December 10, 2016
Oh, there’s something. A behemoth rag-dolling an innocent AHL opponent.
Meet Samuel Morin, a 6’7, 227 pound Leigh Valley Phantoms defenseman. Drafted with the 11th pick in the 2013 draft by the Flyers, the young man has spent over 2 seasons in the AHL putting on an absolutely smashing show. He’s no Zdeno Chara, but the guy isn’t exactly a friendly sight to the average 6’1, 200 pound opposing forward in the AHL, or even NHL for that matter. Perhaps more a physical mirror of a young Chris Pronger.
So with the Flyers eliminated from the playoffs for the second time in three years, Morin was called up to test how he would play in the pros on Tuesday night against the Devils. This wasn’t exactly a gamble move; the game was essentially meaningless, and not to mention GM Ron Hextall has been more than patient waiting over two years to play a prospect expected to contribute to a pro team at one point or another. And this was a no-risk, high-reward situation, to say the least. Morin played extremely well for a young player in a game that mattered in the smallest of ways.
Sam Morin is a wall at the blue line, denying zone entries left and right. pic.twitter.com/LUax6AEeRH
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) April 4, 2017
Morin stays with Hall and knocks him down as he gets a shot off pic.twitter.com/EJxO7K6XBG
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) April 5, 2017
Morin notched 7 hits and 2 shots, but more importantly than stats, showed chemistry with fellow young defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. If Hextall was to discover anything from this game, it’s that if these players keep developing, this team will become a force on the defensive end of the ice.
The guy is already beloved amongst fans; who wouldn’t love Goliath joining their favorite ice hockey team? The size and gritty play style causes an almost nostalgic feeling, making one think of the Broad Street Bullies who cannot be recreated, but flashes of them are visible in the young defenseman.
Can he be the one to bring the Flyers out of this inconsistent style of play? Of course not. Not individually, at least. But he’s a huge piece of the puzzle, and I mean HUGE. They need development on the defensive end and increased offensive performance, of course, but this is a great sign for a team who hasn’t seen many great signs as of late. So, as the bruiser was sent back to the Phantoms (who are making a playoff push in the last few games), I personally hope to see him again in the final two games of the Flyers’ season. Whether it be for a youthful spark, or scouting him for next season, this young man deserves a shot. Fan favorite, hustler, fighter, what’s not to love?
So as we look toward the future Flyer fans, let’s consider Sam Morin. This kid just might be throwing around some Penguins in the next few years.
Drew Bishop is the “Hockey America” columnist for Good Night, Good Hockey. You can contact him on his email: firstname.lastname@example.org.