|Boyd Gordon made his Lehigh Valley Phantoms debut Friday night vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook
ALLENTOWN - Since signing with the organization over the summer, it's been a tough year for forward Boyd Gordon with the Philadelphia Flyers. A back injury not much more than a month into the season sidelined the veteran forward and upon his return was not able to get back into a rhythm - often sitting out as a healthy scratch for the Flyers the past two and a half months.
That's why it wasn't too big of a surprise to see the Flyers place Gordon on waivers earlier this month, and the opportunity he has now in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms is a chance to play hockey and get back into the swing of things.
"I hadn't played a lot of hockey this year, so it was good," Gordon said after his Phantoms' debut Friday night. "Good to get out there and get back into the swing of things. Hopefully feeling better here every day."
In his 14th season of pro hockey spent primarily in the NHL - 706 games of NHL experience with Washington, Phoenix/Arizona, Edmonton and Philadelphia - being reassigned to the minors can be a big time mental battle that tests a veteran's dedication to the game and his mindset about what to do next with his pro career.
If his Lehigh Valley Phantoms' debut Friday night was any indication, Boyd Gordon is exhibiting the right attitude about his current situation and is instantly earning the respect of his new teammates and the coaching staff in Lehigh Valley.
"One of the things that's a pretty good indicator is how engaged the player is going to be when he comes down from the NHL whose spent most of his career in the NHL and his effort to block shots," head coach Scott Gordon, no relation, said after Friday night's game. "That is inspiring for the guys on the bench to see a guy like that. I've coached a few that, if anything, they'll get out of the way before they'll get in front of it. That speaks volumes to his character."
"Boyd Gordon adds another element to our penalty kill. He's a major pro in that area of the game," Leier said when asked about the team's 5-for-5 effort on the penalty kill. "I think we did a great job of bearing down and killing off that four [minutes] because that's not easy to do in the third period," he added of the team's strong effort to kill off a four-minute power play early in the third period of Friday night's game.
Lehigh Valley's bench boss also noted that Gordon was engaged offensively, centering the team's fourth line alongside Cole Bardreau and Mark Zengerle in his Phantoms' debut.
"Not just that, he had some chances offensively - he made some plays offensively," the Phantoms' head coach said."A guy like that, I'm sure he's welcoming the opportunity to be able to play some more minutes than maybe what he's accustomed to - especially this year in Philadelphia."
For Gordon, it's a chance to get into some games and re-gain confidence in his game - something he wasn't able to do after returning from injury and spending a lot of time as a healthy scratch in the NHL.
"I think I'm comfortable in the middle. A little of the systems stuff is a little different to get used to, but hopefully pick it up as quick as I can," Gordon explained of transitioning to the AHL with the Phantoms. "I felt pretty good out there, hoping to continue to feel better."
"I'm pretty close," he said of picking up on the Phantoms' systems play, which is a little different than Philadelphia's, "just some subtle differences when you switch teams," the veteran forward said. "Shouldn't be a problem. Everyone is a smart player out there and they usually pick things up pretty quick so just kind of read off other guys and adjust as quick as you can."