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Gerry Mayhew one of few bright spots on current Flyers

The Winter of Gerald continues.

Heather Barry/SB Nation
Heather Barry/SB Nation

The Philadelphia Flyers being plagued by injuries typically isn’t a good thing. Sure, you can blame a lot of some misfortunes on missing key players like Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes, and Ryan Ellis, but when all is said and done, it just stinks to not see your good players healthy enough to be on the ice. One of the few positives though, is seeing the depth players get their chances, especially when they have earned it through years of minor-league production.

Gerry Mayhew is a beacon of light, beaming positivity onto this current Flyers lineup. When the 29-year-old forward was signed to his deal last summer, it was simply just one of those transactions to bolster your AHL roster, and have someone with a high work ethic through training camp. That was the expectation — to be A Guy. And he has been a very good one in the past.

Signed by the Minnesota Wild out of college as a typical unrestricted free agent, he quickly became a go-to offensive powerhouse in the AHL, scoring 60 points in just his second full season for the Iowa Wild. That earned him a short stint of 13 games in the NHL, but he continued his dominance, with a 61-point campaign in just 49 AHL games. He is the definition of a Quad-A type of hockey player, but has never been able to get a consistent streak of games in the bigs.

Maybe it was Minnesota’s change-over last season and having a complete logjam at the forward positions, but Mayhew was stuck in Iowa just being a top-line guy. Now with the Flyers, and because of this massive hole at forward with the injury bug slithering its way through the locker room — Mayhew has his opportunity and he’s taking advantage.

I don’t typically want to praise a player that has just five goals — and five points — in 15 games for a team, but it’s just the way he is able to keep us interested in the game. Whether it’s his forecheck that appears like he will burst through the back boards and just keep on going until he hits an immovable object, or the chaotic way he skates around the ice; Mayhew is simply Fun.

One of my favorite skateboarders right now is an Australian by the name of Jack O’Grady. And of course he can work the usual big rails and some more single-note street tricks, but it’s the way that he can just bomb down any ledge in complete control, but also looking like he can suddenly fall off his board at any moment — like in his Pass~Port part from last year.

It’s that same concept for Mayhew. Appearing like he’s screaming ahhhhhhhh at the top of his lungs while trying to strip the puck off of an opposing defender’s stick. A wrecking ball of a man that can seemingly burst into tiny shards of hockey player at any moment.

The energy that one single player has given to the Flyers in this recent string of losses is something to still enjoy. You can concern yourself with the statistics and other players, but that just brings you down and makes you reflect on how you’re watching a bad hockey team at its core. Let’s hold hands and watch Mayhew skate like a maniac.

And that maniac has converted his energy into actual production as of late, including a two-goal performance against the Washington Capitals on Thursday.

“I just try to get to the net where the pucks are,” Mayhew said after the 5-3 loss. “That second goal I scored was a great play by [Sanheim]. When you go to the net good things happen, so I am going to try to continue to do that.”

And what can Mayhew do to continue this recent run?

“Just keep doing what I do best. Just work hard and do the little things. Getting pucks behind their ‘D’ — that is one thing we have to seize on. Tonight was a good game for all of us I think until that lapse, but like I said we just have to keep pushing.”

And that’s the tricky part. The Flyers did look good against Washington, but just eventually lost the game. Mayhew’s play and tools as a grindy-gritty-gutsy winger can only carry a team so far and in the end some talent needs to be surrounded by that supplemental player, not have him be the core of it at times.

At least his coach and teammates are recognizing his abilities.

“He works, it’s a big thing,” coach Mike Yeo said. “He works and he skates. You can have success in this league if you do those two things. He’s got skill to make plays and you can’t just put anybody up there that’s gonna work and skate but he’s got the ability to make plays and is very confident as well right now so without that line needing a switch I thought he provided a good spark.”

“Gerry’s been great for us,” Travis Konecny said. “I feel like every time we need a play or the team might be down, Gerry’s always that guy who’s moving his feet and you know what you’re going to get from him. He’s going to work hard and he’s going to put pucks in the net. He’s getting rewarded for doing the right things. It’s good.”

Mayhew played just over 15 minutes against the Capitals and he certainly deserved it. Will this mean a more prominent role in the future? I’m not too sure. When the players that are higher up on the depth chart eventually start coming back, he might get booted and kicked down the lineup or back to Lehigh Valley. But, at least with his 15 games so far, he has shown some ability to be a contributor and just a good guy to have around. That’s all you could ever possibly need or want from your depth pieces and hopefully that has earned Mayhew another contract with the Flyers. He certainly deserves it.