Uncertainty of Hart’s Status Raises Concern Level
Under normal circumstances, seeing your budding star in net leave the ice for any reason before practice is over is concerning enough. These are not normal circumstances for the Flyers or anyone else in the NHL. Teams are not permitted to provide updates on players other than deeming them “unfit to play” or “unable to participate.”
So on Tuesday, when Carter Hart left the ice early during a scrimmage, there was no update. Start the speculation. Cue the concern.
Now it is obvious that Hart was fit to play at the start of the day, so that leads you to believe that this is injury-related. How serious is it? We may never know, though a report from NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Colby Cohen said that Hart was suffering from minor back spasms and should return soon. Teammates also said they believed it to be a minor deal and probably more precautionary than anything.
So how concerned should the Flyers be with this?
On the forefront, there isn’t a lot of reason for concern just yet. If Hart is able to return to the ice within the week, then he will likely be fine when the time comes to start playing games. Even if he needs nearly a week to recover, that would still put him on track to return in time for the Round Robin games. In the grand scheme of things, Hart does not need to play in the exhibition again Pittsburgh next Tuesday.
But that being said, this is the goalie that everyone was waiting to see in a playoff series. There is certainly a different level of talent and confidence in net when Hart is there. Losing him at any point in these playoffs could be devastating to the Flyers chances.
For now, it’s a concern, but a mild one. There’s still time before the Flyers really need Hart to be their backstop with the season on the line. But knowing that he’s dealing with something makes it that much more worrisome.
Of course, it doesn’t make things better that the team can’t so much as provide an update to potentially calm the waters. That leaves everything to speculation. Perhaps the Flyers had a chance to calm everyone by letting Hart still address the media as scheduled. While teams can’t give updates, there are players from around the league that have updated their own status.
Jake Voracek told the story of his absence from Saturday’s scrimmage after returning to the ice on Sunday. Boston’s Tuukka Rask told reporters that he has a fractured finger that has limited him in camp. Both Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Edmonton’s Caleb Jones confirmed their positive COVID-19 tests.
So there is a double standard for revealing injury information. The teams may not be able to, but the players can disclose their own information if they so choose.
But Hart never got that chance on Tuesday. He was pulled from the media availability list. That prompted speculation that this was not just a one-day thing. Hart was also not on the practice list for Wednesday. The Flyers travel to Toronto on Sunday.
If Hart were to miss some time, it’s not terribly concerning just yet. There are still a few practice days ahead before the trip to Toronto and there will be a few after as well. But as the game draw closer, now a week and a half away, Hart’s presence is important. If this is the goalie you want to carry you through the playoffs, his health is quite possibly more important than anyone else’s.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.