For most of Scott Laughton’s young life, his hockey endeavors happened side-by-side with his father Craig. He grew up in the Toronto suburb of Oakville, Ontario, and from the time he started playing hockey around age 5 to when he finished up his bantam years around age 14, Craig was his coach. So for a good nine years, that meant driving around Ontario and beyond to games and tournaments, with many hours spent in the car and several nights spent in hotels.
Now, for the first time in probably seven years, the two of them are doing it again. The Flyers are having their annual Dad’s Trip this week, which started with Monday’s game against Carolina and is continuing with the trip to New York to take on the Islanders tomorrow. This is the first time Scott’s been on the roster for it, and so it’s the first time Craig is participating.
“He drives down quite often, but for him to be in the room and see everything that goes on, it’s pretty cool,” Scott said. “It’s going to be fun for him [in New York], and I think he had a lot of fun [at the Carolina game] too.”
About a dozen Flyers have their fathers or another relative in town for the trip. Some, like Ray Giroux and Jeff Schenn, are grizzled veterans. Others, like Craig Laughton and Leroy Manning, are here for the first time. The team held an optional practice on Tuesday prior to leaving for New York, and Manning was among a handful of dads watching the action on the ice – just like they did when their now-NHLer sons were just little boys.
“I don’t see too many of these anymore,” Leroy said. “I try to make a trip every year. I saw [Brandon’s] NHL debut in Toronto, but this is my first time in Philadelphia.”
The Flyers had jerseys made up for the dads and brought them out for an on-ice team photo after Monday’s game. Jeff Schenn became a bit of an Internet sensation when photos of his custom jersey – sporting the numbers of both his sons – made the rounds on social media Monday night. He estimated that before the Flyers acquired Luke in 2012, the brothers were between 5 and 7 years old the last time they played a whole season on the same team.
The trip is a chance for the dads to spend time with their sons, but it’s undoubtedly also a time to reflect on everything their families did to get their current Flyers to this point. Of course, Jeff is a bit unique in having two sons who were each drafted fifth overall in successive NHL drafts. But he said there’s no secret to how it happened, other than hard work.
“They pushed each other to do what they did,” Jeff said. “And you get a bit lucky. They had to work for what they did. You never know if you’re going to make it, and there’s lots of surprises along the way.”
It’s also the first time Dave Hakstol has experienced the event.
“I think it’s such a special opportunity for everybody,” Hakstol said. “I don’t know what the advent of it was, when it started or where it started, but it’s a great concept and a great couple days, I would imagine, for both the players and the fathers.”
GOSTISBEHERE, LEIER STILL EARNING PRAISES
It’s now been 10 days since Shayne Gostisbehere and Taylor Leier came up from the Phantoms, and they continue to draw accolades. Gostisbehere continues to notch milestones very quickly – first it was his first NHL point, then his first NHL goal, and on Monday night, his first NHL overtime game-winner. The Elias Sports Bureau said Gostisbehere became just the third Flyers rookie in team history to record an overtime-game winner, joining Dmitry Yuskevich and Murray Baron.
“I didn’t get all of it, by no means, but sometimes it matters where the puck’s going and not how hard it is,” Gostisbehere said Tuesday. “It’s definitely surreal. I haven’t had many OT winners in my life, much less in the NHL. So it was a bit of a pinch-yourself moment.”
Gostisbehere now has three points in his five games – or to look at it another way, he has a point in every game in which the Flyers haven’t been shut out since he was called up.
“He’s had an impact,” Hakstol said. “He finds a way to impact most of the games he’s been in offensively. I think he’s done a good job in defending and moving pucks out of the zone… some of the things that maybe don’t show up quite as much in the boxscore. I think he’s done a solid job of those little things. [The power play] is where you notice the impact.”
Meanwhile, Leier has continued to impress his coach and his teammates with his approach to his role on the team.
“I think every night he’s created something with his smarts and his speed,” Hakstol said. “He’s drawn a couple penalties, he’s created some scoring chances, and he’s done somethings defensively. Every night he’s created something in one of those areas.”
Gostisbehere and Leier will be joined in Brooklyn by another familiar face in the form of Chris McDonald, who was recalled by the Flyers on Wednesday. He’ll be with the club in the event that Sam Gagner is not able to go. McDonald returned to action last weekend after missing 14 games with an injury. He played 88 games for the Islanders over the past two seasons before signing with the Flyers over the summer.