A Travis-ty! Konecny Snubbed from All-Star Game, Yet Leads Flyers to Fourth Straight Win

Photo Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

While generational prospect Connor Bedard was leading his Canadian World Junior Team to a Gold Medal Thursday night, the Flyers moved even further away from the possibility of winning the lottery to draft him in June.

They handled the Arizona Coyotes pretty easily, defeating the team from the desert 6-2, notching their highest goal total of the season and scoring five of their goals in the second period – something they hadn’t done in a period since 2019.

The Flyers have now won four straight games, three against teams who are more serious about “tanking hard for Bedard,” and find themselves in a bit of a purgatory – or rather a hockey hell. At 15-17-7 the Flyers have 37 points. They are nine points out of a Wild Card spot, and would have to leapfrog six teams to get there. At the same time, they have more points than six other teams, and are tied with the Vancouver Canucks for seventh-fewest points in the league (technically, the Canucks are considered to have a better record than the Flyers because they have played one fewer game).

That’s not a good spot to be. Per Tankathon, who tracks this stuff daily for all four major North American sports, the Flyers would have these odds if they finished with the seventh-worst record:

  • Win the lottery: 6.5%
  • Pick 2nd: 6.9%
  • Pick 7th: 44.4%
  • Pick 8th: 36.5%
  • Pick 9th: 5.6%

And while the 2023 NHL Draft is being touted as the best in a generation, with as many as nine forwards being identified as top-end prospects, Bedard is in a class all by himself – with many scouts saying he’s the best prospect since Sidney Crosby – which is high praise.

There are three others who could be incredibly impactful to a team’s future success as well – Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, and Matvei Michkov – but the Flyers winning these games is taking them further away from those players as well.

It’s hard to complain about a team winning. Ultimately, several of these players who are contributing to the Flyers recent success are either going to be here as part of a new core, or are trying to prove they belong as part of it, Additionally, coach John Tortorella is getting them to learn to play the right way and they are picking up some really good habits.

Cam York had another assist against Arizona, and now has seven in the last eight games. Morgan Frost had four assists – his second four-point game of his career. The first? Also against the Coyotes last month in Arizona. In fact:

Wade Allison scored a hard-nosed goal and Owen Tippett continued his excellent ply of late, assisting on a goal by James van Riemsdyk, giving Tippett 10 points in his last 11 games (5G, 5A) –

But the true forces behind the offensive engine for the Flyers this season, an engine that has sputtered more than revved (although the Flyers do have 34 goals in their last eight games after scoring 33 in their previous 16 contests), have been Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes.

One of them was named an All-Star Thursday by NHL Hockey Operations and the other was left out.

Konecny, who had a three-point effort against Arizona, scored his 20th goal of the season:

This set play was actually drawn up by Tony DeAngelo – who identified the boards giving a true bounce on a fresh sheet of ice and with the blessing of assistant coach Rocky Thompson, who coaches the power play, designed it so Frost would dump it in hard of the end boards, and DeAngelo would beat his man to the puck and set up TK for the goal.

Konecny has scored a goal in five straight games. He is one of only 18 players in the NHL with 20 goals, and because of an injury earlier this season that kept him out of six games, he has played fewer games than the other 17 guys.

He’s averaging 1.21 points per-game, which ranks 13th in the NHL among players who have played at least 20 games this season. If he keeps up that pace and plays every game the rest of the season, Konecny will finish with 46-46-92, the most by a Flyer since Claude Giroux posted 102 points in 2017-18. And if he stays on that pace, only nine players in franchise history have ever scored 46 goals or more in a season, and none since Jeff Carter had 46 in 2008-09.

He is just five goals away from setting a career high and is 22 points shy of setting a career-best, a mark he is on pace to reach by mid-February.

And yet, he wasn’t chosen as the Flyers’ All-Star. Hayes was.

Hayes is off to the best start of his career as well. He has 35 points (10G, 25A), but aside from a five-point surge in his last two games, which included two assists in Anaheim and a goal and two assists against Arizona, Hayes had no goals and just two assists in his previous nine games, in the middle of which he was benched as a healthy scratch.

The league had some tough choices in other cities – as they only chose one player per team and the fans get to vote the remaining 12 players onto the All-Star teams via online voting, so to see Leon Draisatl, for example, not in yet because the league made Connor McDavid the representative from Edmonton isn’t as head-scratching as it would first appear.

But on a weaker team, like the Flyers, the decision should have been cut and dry and Konecny was the most deserving, hands down.

Still, we have to remember that All-Star games and festivities are about marketing the sport more than anything else, and it’s hard to argue that Hayes is a compelling story.

Considering all he went through with his brother’s unexpected death prior to the start of the 2021-22 season, as well as recovering from not one, but two core muscle surgeries, Hayes was a deserving finalist for the the Masterton Award last season.

To rebound from that and put up the kind of offensive numbers he has this season, certainly had him in the conversation for an All-Star bid until about a month ago, when things started going south and the situation between Hayes and Tortorella got even more cloudy. Torts originally moved Hayes off his center position and bumped him out to the wing, where he would have fewer defensive responsibilities. But then he would demote him down the lineup, bench him for an entire period, and then, when he declared him a healthy scratch – at a time when he was the leading scorer on the team – Torts took on a lot of criticism for such a move – especially from the national media, and Hayes fueled it further by saying he disagreed with his coach.

It has made for a sticky relationship between them, one that we get to see up close and personal, but maybe one that the league looked at as a story to peddle All-Star weekend.

Couple that with what Hayes had to say about getting elected to his first All-Star game, and, well, you can cue he tear-jerker music.

“It’s a cool situation for me because, not to get emotional, but it’s the only thing my brother, since he stopped playing hockey, wanted me to accomplish,” Hayes said. “I never honestly thought it would happen, but it did. It’s cool. I know my family is very excited and his son, Beau, will be with me the whole time. It will be an extra special experience.”

If you notice at the end of his goal against the Coyotes, Hayes did give a quick gesture skyward:

It wasn’t as emotional and memorable as his first goal after his brother’s death last season, but it was still a recognition of what being named an All-Star means to him and his family.

His Flyers family recognized him too, awarding him the “Man of the Match” award after the win:

(On a side note, they other guys in the photo are priceless… especially Frost and Joel Farabee photo-bombing by throwing up their gang signs – this needs to become a Flyers meme.)

For his part, Konecny was gracious about it and felt that it was something Hayes deserved as well, no matter how hard the media tried to make him say he felt like he was snubbed.

Here was that brief exchange from post game (with a shameless cut and paste from the Flyers award-winning PR department’s transcription) –

Kevin Hayes said there’s multiple guys on this team who could have been all-stars on this team but how nice is it to see Kevin get rewarded?

“Oh yeah, it’s awesome. Kevin’s been great in this league for a long time and has done a lot of great things. He deserves to be there. He’s been carrying a lot of the offense for most of this year and doing a lot of good things. Everyone’s happy for him. He’s a good guy in the locker room, so you know he’s gonna be loved when he’s there too. Gonna be fun to see what he’s doing and what events he’s doing.”

He said it’s something that his brother has really wanted for him. Having been by his side through all his struggled last season, what does it mean for you guys to see him achieve that for his brother?

“Yeah, it’s pretty special for him. I’m sure he’s gonna have his brother’s kids there too, enjoying it and being a part of that. It’s gonna be an awesome experience for him, and like I said, we are all really proud of him.”

I want to hear it from you, you’re having a career year. Did you think you would have an All-Star year?

“There was someone who had to be picked and I’m happy it was Hayesy. Like I said, it’s a really great opportunity for him and his family. I’m looking forward to seeing it.”

Konecny can still be voted in by fans, but Flyers fans aren’t as tuned in as they have been in past years because of the state of the team, as such, it’s going to be hard for him to get one of the top three votes in the Metropolitan Division unless the Flyers marketing department goes on a real full-court press on social media to get TK voted in – and even then it might not be enough.

That marketing campaign could have kicked off after the game with Torts talking about how deserving his leading scorer is, but Torts, being Torts, decided to go an alternate route:

You know, I have to admit a dirty little secret here. After writing 1800-plus words about this snub, I have to come clean – I’m with Torts on this one. I don’t care and I don’t watch the NHL Al-Star game either.

But hey, it was a story that got me through another Flyers game, so, I’ll take it!

For more Flyers coverage, follow Snow The Goalie with Anthony SanFilippo, Russ Joy, and Chris Therien on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



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