|Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook
ALLENTOWN - Scott Laughton was back at the PPL Center Tuesday practicing with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms one day after being reassigned by the Philadelphia Flyers to their AHL affiliate.
While the move could be telling in how Flyers' management currently stands on the former 1st round pick, the exact reason for his demotion had differing viewpoints after Tuesday's practice.
"He really isn't coming down because of his performance, it's, I think, more of a positional thing," Phantoms' head coach Scott Gordon said. "They want Scott to be a center. Given the fact that Matt Read is winger, they want to have somebody go in his place and focus having Scott as a center."
Is Laughton's demotion and Taylor Leier's promotion based off of a positional need up top? It depends on who you ask.
"I played left wing last year, and at the end of the summer they told me I was going to start the year on left wing. So I'm not really sure," Laughton said when asked if his latest demotion was due to a positional need. "That's a better question for Hak or Hexy, but I'm not sure."
One thing is for sure. And that is that while Laughton is in the AHL he's going to play, and play a lot.
"It's nice to have fun again. Get out there and play, and play in all situations," Laughton said. "Be a guy that's counted on. So I'm excited for that."
"I'm just going to keep my nose down and play as hard as I can," Laughton continued, adding, "Worry about what I can do to become an NHL player again, and show that I belong there."
The last time Laughton was with the Phantoms, it was the middle of November after a brief two-game conditioning stint to begin the month. He played well, tallying six points (one goal, five assists) in six games before being called back up to Philadelphia on November 23rd.
"Go up there and play two games. I thought I played well, then got scratched for five," Laughton explained of his latest stint with the Flyers. "I guess that's just the way it goes."
Laughton explained that there was no message from the Flyers on his latest demotion to Lehigh Valley. He was just told he was being reassigned to the AHL. He's saying and doing the right things both on and off the ice so far, as evidenced by his attitude Tuesday.
"Really good group of guys here still playing really good hockey," Laughton said of this Phantoms team, his team now. "I kept track of them while I was up for the two weeks or whatever. I'm just excited to play hockey - the game I know."
Mental Toughness Being Tested
Laughton wasn't remiss to the fact that mentally, it's been a challenge for him to remain even keel.
"The mental part of the game is probably the toughest," he answered when asked about the mental side of things. "It's definitely tough and it wares on you, but like I said before when I'm with the Phantoms this is the team I focus on."
"I don't focus on the Flyers or what they do or anything like that. I focus on how I can help this team win and that's my goal - I'm going to try to help this team win every game I play and I'm not worrying about them right now."
Gordon offered a different perspective on Laughton's latest arrival to Lehigh Valley. It's a chance for Laughton to really establish his game and play a large role.
"It's a really good opportunity for Scott," Gordon said. "Hopefully, like you say for all players, you don't want them to be here long but while he's here it gives him a lot of reps for him to get more comfortable with his game and maybe shake off some of the rust he got last year being a guy that was on the fourth line a lot and maybe even sitting out some games."
"Most players, they like playing in the NHL but the biggest thing is they like playing," Gordon explained. "When you play a lot you get the opportunity to get comfortable with your game, and in just the short amount of time he was here that was the one takeaway he had. He'll get that opportunity again."