Photo Credit: Heather Barry/@heatherm_barry
On Monday afternoon, right around 3 o’clock, the world learned that Wayne Simmonds was no longer a Philadelphia Flyer. For fans, it was heartbreaking news. They had lost the heart and soul of the team, a player who embodied the city. That sadness was also mixed with territorial hostility as news rolled in of the new guy headed to Philly: Ryan Hartman.
Hartman, a 2013 first-round pick, started his NHL career off in Chicago, where he notched 19 goals and totaled 31 points in his rookie season. The year after, Hartman found himself in Nashville after a deadline deal. He was buried in the lineup there, finishing that season with six points in 21 games for Nashville, totaling 11 goals and 31 points on the season. He had 10 goals and 10 assists with Nashville this year, but he and the Predators just didn’t click, and now he’s in Philadelphia.
The trade announcement was met with much skepticism. His numbers don’t look that great, so why would we want him? He’s been traded by two teams in two years; that doesn’t look great, does it? Why didn’t we get Kevin Fiala? He was the better prize, right? We should have gotten MORE for Wayne freakin’ Simmonds, right? Is this even a good trade?
All are valid questions and concerns.
But Ryan Hartman didn’t let the fans question the trade for very long.
Hartman appeared in his first game dressed in the orange and black last night, wearing #38, against the Buffalo Sabres. Coming off of Saturday’s huge win, many were worried of a letdown in the atmosphere due to the loss of Simmonds. Many were wary of the new guy. Things felt off in the Wells Fargo Center.
This didn’t last long.
Within five minutes, he had the fans on their feet and cheering him on, winning them over with a huge hit on Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 27, 2019
Hartman laid quite a few other big hits, fired a couple of shots drew some penalties, and was the third star at the end of the game, but this hit was a game changer in the sense that it eased fans’ fears and sadness after losing Simmonds.
Heard from the fans around me after the hit:
“Wow, maybe the trade wasn’t all that bad.”
“He’s so…fast. We need that.”
“He isn’t shy about his entrance as a Flyer, that’s for sure.”
He’s fast, he’s physical, and he’s been labeled a pest on the ice, something the Flyers need. His presence was felt throughout the Wells Fargo Center. He’s scrappy, and from what we saw last night, he gets himself where he needs to be when he needs to be there. He may not have the points to show for it after just one game, but that’s okay. If he keeps it up, the points will come. After what I saw last night, I’m not worried.
Captain Claude Giroux said that orange and black will look good on Hartman, and I couldn’t agree more.