By Harry Allison
There is little argument that the hit Flyers’ forward Scott Laughton endured Thursday night shook the rookie to his core.
However, there is a difference of opinion between the Flyers’ coach and general manager about what to do about it.
During an eventual 1-0 win for the Washington Capitals, Matt Niskanen clobbered Laughton with this big hit:
The Flyers’ response won’t make Laughton return to action any sooner, yet the difference in opinions between GM Ron Hextall and head coach Craig Berube may have made more waves than the check itself.
Here’s how CSNPhilly.com describes the disagreement:
Interestingly, Flyers coach Craig Berube wasn’t sure if the hit was dirty and didn’t think it necessary for the team to retaliate while general manager Ron Hextall was vocal in saying the hit needed to be dealt [with] from the Flyers and while attempts were made toward that end, nothing was carried out on the ice.
Here are the two quotes in question, via NJ Advance Media:
First, Hextall’s take:
“You gotta hit him back,” Hextall said. “Hit him or (star center Nicklas) Backstrom (who fell over Laughton after the hit) … That’s how you respond these days.”
“Niskanen’s not going to drop his gloves and fight anybody, so you can’t just go and grab a guy and start punching,” Berube said. “You’re going to get a five-minute major. I don’t think it’s a very smart move personally. Yeah, if the game’s 5-0 at the time or something like that. It’s a 1-0 game. We’re trying to win the hockey game. You’ve got to be smart.”
Perhaps the two really disagree on the matter, but maybe it could boil down to semantics? After all, Berube also said that players know to “respond to it” and be physical about it, although one could make a reasonable argument that he’s more emphatic about avoiding a foolish penalty than Hextall might be. Maybe.
(Really, for all the patience Hextall has shown compared to recent Flyers general managers, you didn’t think that the once-volatile goalie would promote turning the other cheek, did you?)
If it’s truly a matter of profound and problematic disagreement, they’ll likely hash it out behind closed doors. One would assume it’s not a huge issue, really.
That said, plenty of people will be watching a little bit more closely the next time a Flyers player receives a big hit.