Carter Hart has been absolutely terrible this season. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers float their way to outside of the playoff picture due to allowing more goals than the other team can score at a reliable rate. Two completely relating things that have simply spelt out a disappointing finish and stressful offseason in gigantic permanent marker on the arm of everyone that cares about this team.
A dipping downfall of destructive save percentage has eventually led us down this echoing tunnel where we just keep on yelling at ourselves, while the front office and coaching staff continue to wonder why.
But not in that wholesome wondering why and hoping for the best, but somewhat personal and oddly unilateral blame directed at Hart and his performance this season.
Carter Hart scratched today & Wednesday. Focus the next few days will be practice & working on his game. AV: "He needs to work harder, he needs to work better. I've had a good conversation with him & Kim about my expectations about his practice habits and him stopping the puck." pic.twitter.com/EwZosj2geV— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) March 29, 2021
What really is the kicker of that quote from head coach Alain Vigneault is how he ended his statement on Hart’s current role in practicing. According to him, it sounds like—as he points his ghostly crooked finger in his face with his words—he has been a lazily going his way through this entire year. Just nonchalantly making his way through his third NHL season.
“I’ve had a good conversation with him and Kim (Dillabaugh) about my expectations about his practice habits and him stopping the puck,” just feels unfortunately direct and throwing him under the bus. I am but a lowly blogger so I don’t know how much I should consider this a exposure and targeted quasi humiliation to the media; publicly criticizing the one player that has carried a lot of the defensive liabilities that Vigneault’s own team has endured the past couple of years. Hart has just returned to his human state and we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, so maybe Mr. Stick To Hockey should consider that.
Just a few hours after Vigneault talked to the media, defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere discussed Hart’s situation prior to Monday’s match against the Buffalo Sabres, defending his work ethic and how he has practiced this year.
.@s_ghost14 on Carter Hart: "I just know his personalty and his attitude toward playing the game, and his preparation is second to none. I’m pretty sure no one in this organization is too worried about the Carter Hart we’re going to see next.” #Flyers— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) March 29, 2021
Of course it all boils down to support from a peer and evaluation from your pseudo boss, but considering how vital a position Hart plays in the future of this franchise and just generally how Vigneault simply loves to let young players establish a shrinking confidence, it’s telling how different the two sides feel.
Obviously, goaltending is weird and we never really know how bad or good one can be season to season, but taking this weird mid-pandemic season out of the picture, Hart is someone to simply believe in and it seems like his teammates feel that way.
All it requires is some patience and general understanding, and maybe not shit-talking to the media.