PHILADELPHIA – The final numbers were nothing staggering.
There were 23 shifts, 14:54 of ice time, four penalty minutes, five shots, one hit and one takeaway.
But for Scott Hartnell it was a start. And it came far sooner than expected.
Hartnell returned to the Flyers lineup one month after suffering a fractured left foot and having surgery to repair it.
It was a surprise announcement by the Flyers, who had originally declared Hartnell out 4-8 weeks, trimmed it to 4-6 weeks, then narrowed it to five weeks with a declaration Wednesday that he was 7-10 days away.
That was trumped again by Thursday’s announcement that Hartnell was upgraded to 5-7 days away, which turned into today.
Below are some comments from Hartnell as well as his coach and teammates about his return to the ice:
“It was a huge lift. Not only is he an energy guy, he’s a leader in our locker room. It’s always nice having a guy like that who scores goals and is physical. He brings a lot to the table so it’s always nice to have guys like that.”
“Today. He showed up to the rink and he was the first guy here. He got everyone pumped up… That was actually (a) pretty short (recovery). For a broken foot, what was that, four weeks exactly? I’m happy for him he played a great game as well.”
“You know, when you’re not sure where a guy’s going to be at after missing so much time and not really getting a lot of practice time, in those (ten) minutes where things weren’t going well he was very noticeable for us. He was skating, he was physical and he was agitated at times.”
“I was pretty excited to have the big guy back in the lineup. He brings a lot to this team. He plays with a lot of heart. To have him in the lineup is a big boost.”
“I thought Hartsy played really well. He had a lot of spunk, a lot of emotion, some big hits, and he was always around the net. He is one of the reasons we came back. It’s his demeanor, the way he wanted it. It was fun to see, it was fun to see him back in the lineup.”
Scott Hartnell Interview:
Q: When did you know you were going to be back today?
“A couple days. I kind of kept things under the radar. I think the last couple of days I skated with the Phantoms and talking with Homer and Lavy we kind of decided to come back Saturday would be a good time. It’s how I felt on the ice and I felt pretty good. Tonight was a lot getting used to the speed of the game again and I was a little rusty but it was a big win.”
Q: How much was what happened Thursday night vs. Florida an influence?
“Well, I wanted to play Thursday night as well, but talking with Homer and Lavy it was probably better to give it a couple more days. I don’t know if the guys needed a boost or a mental boost, but just being in the room it’s the one thing I probably miss the most. Watching the games on TV you don’t get to be a part of it and help the guys and get them lose and focused. I was pretty excited to wake up this morning, have a nice breakfast and get here and play.”
Q: Lavy said it would take some time for you to shake off the rust. What do you think you are, 100%, 90%?
“Well I don’t know why he would say something stupid like that.” [Laughs] No, I feel a little rusty but I think the timing and stuff will come. I told G [Giroux] and Jake they have been playing so good I just wanted to get them the puck and head to the front of the net, that’s where I make a living. I had some chances, especially the first couple shifts there, Jake made a great pass and if I had been playing in all the other games, that goes in the net, but I was just happy to get through and game and no worries right now.”
Q: Do you feel you were rushed back into it because of Matt Read’s injury?
“I don’t think so. They were playing so good together. I wanted to help the team and get back there and get focused and get ready. Tonight was a big comeback win for us too, being down 3-2 going into the third. Us working hard for the power plays that we got and the guys burying on it. Everyone was happy and it’s a huge, huge two points for us.
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