Shayne Gostisbehere, the speedy Flyers defenseman who finished second in the NHL's rookie-of-the-year voting last season, has been named the Philadelphia Pro Athlete of the Year by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association.
The player they call "Ghost" will be among the many honorees at the 113th annual banquet at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill on Feb. 3.
"Just to be associated with the award is something special to me and my family as well," Gostisbehere said. "It's a tremendous honor."
After being recalled from the AHL a year ago, Gostisbehere scored 17 goals - a record for a Flyers rookie defenseman - and jump-started the team's drive to a playoff berth.
"I didn't think I was going to come in and make the impact I did," said Gostisbehere, who missed most of the previous season with the AHL's Phantoms after undergoing knee surgery. "But I came in wanting to contribute to the team and help the team along the way. That's what stuck with me all the way: Just put the individual stuff to the side and keep your teammates always with you."
With Gostisbehere in the lineup, the Flyers went 34-19-11; they were 7-8-3 without him.
It's supposed to be more difficult for a defenseman to make an immediate impact, but Gostisbehere made it look easy, finishing fifth in rookie scoring with 46 points. One of his highlights was setting an NHL rookie record for defensemen with a 15-game points streak.
"It was a great steppingstone to more success this year," Gostisbehere said.
Numerous Flyers captains from their history will be honored at the banquet, celebrating the franchise's 50th anniversary. It will also be a night to salute men's basketball coach Jay Wright and his NCAA champion Villanova Wildcats as the team of the year.
Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen, the radio voices of the Phillies, will be honored for their standout work when they receive the Bill Campbell Broadcast Award.
Other award winners will be announced in upcoming weeks.
For tickets, go to www.phillysportswriters.com.