Brian Elliott may have played his last game with the Philadelphia Flyers. The veteran goalie is an unrestricted free agent and the Flyers will likely look for a better backup goalie in the offseason. He’s been nothing but a professional during his time in Philadelphia and went out with a win on a special night for him.
The Flyers missed the playoffs and closed out their season earlier than expected this year. They finished the season with a win on Monday, May 10th, then held their end-of-season media availability on Tuesday.
Alain Vigneault and Chuck Fletcher both spoke about the big picture and larger issues plaguing this Flyers team. After that, the players took to the podium for their exit interviews.
This week, we’ll be going through those exit interviews with full transcripts and quotes. We’ll dig into any interesting tidbits at the end.
Brian Elliott Exit Interview
What did you see from Carter Hart this season as far as handling all the things adversity on and off the ice?
That’s a tough question. I wasn’t expecting to talk about that right away. You know, it’s a tough league. You’re gonna have ups and downs. I went through as a younger goalie, where you try to solidify yourself as a player in this league. You kind of have to battle your way back to get your spots back and making sure that you get your starts, you get your opportunities, and it’s something that I think everybody has to go through. I think we talked about it in the past, where you can’t really talk anybody through some of the situations that you go through as an NHL goalie. I think you really have to experience things and you have to dig yourself out of holes yourself and you try to take advice from whoever you trust and goalie coaches and trust in yourself. And obviously, I can’t speak for him. There’s lots of good things this year from him, and from everybody. Then there’s stuff that you want to clean up as well. It’s about learning from the bad stuff, the tough experiences, and trying to get better. That’s what we always talk about is day by day and trying to treat each day like it’s new, not take any baggage into the next game and into the next practice. And that just comes with more and more experience. Goaltending is in hockey is one of the toughest positions in sports and the mental side of it is so huge to be able to have a bad start or a bad break and get yourself back to square one. I think those experiences can only help you if you handle them the right way.
How challenging was the number of games you had to play in March because of the schedule and Hart’s struggles?
That’s the thing. You say one guy struggling. As a team, we struggled. And as the goaltender, you’re usually the product of that and your numbers will suffer because of it. You have to realize that and you can’t put it all on yourself, even if you know the outside world wants to. Those numbers are as much team numbers as personal and when the team struggles a little bit, you’re gonna kind of feel that too. Like I said, if you can handle it the right way and try to come back the next night and forget about those bad experiences, it can work out well. For myself, numbers-wise, the year started out really good, and sometimes you’re the product of some bad bounces. Little bit sloppy in the defensive zone and you kind of pay the price, numbers-wise. What I really focus on and what I’m really proud of this year is personally my record, having 15-9-2 and on a team that’s two games over 500. I take pride in that. Those are the numbers when it comes down to it, wins is kind of all that really matters as a goalie and trying to get your team over a hump and into the playoffs. That’s what I’m proud of.
Do you want a two-year deal where you can get a little bit more security at this stage of your career?
Yeah, obviously, you want to get as many years for as much money as you can, right? I mean, that’s what everybody would say. But, you know, it doesn’t really bother me. I mean, I’ve kind of fought my whole career and proved it every year. I think it makes you a little bit stronger, actually knowing that you’d have to really show yourself and you can’t rest on your laurels from years past. And you have to bring it every night, if you want to stay in this league. And if that’s the cards you’re dealt and you got a plan, you got to play them.
What can you do to help young goaltenders, like Carter Hart and Alex Lyon, who go through struggles?
Obviously, you can share stuff to help, stories and tricks or mental swing thoughts that helps you get through those tough times. My point is that, it sometimes doesn’t matter. Like you have really have to go through those experiences yourself, and learn how to handle on your own way. You got to take little pieces from all the mentors and all the coaches that you’ve had and try to piece together what makes you tick and what makes you kind of respond in a positive way. I don’t mean it. It’s more of a generalization that sometimes you got to go through the tough times to get to the greener pastures.
How good is it going to be getting back to normal training and offseason after being in a bubble?
I don’t know. Like my set-up, where I train, it was pretty much the same any other year and I felt good coming into this year, really, really healthy all year long. So, I was fortunate that my situation was pretty good personally, as far as training goes. And I was with my family. I was away from extended family. I got to a good little pack and when you got that, it does make it a little easier when you’re kind of squared away and hunkered away from going out and doing your regular things socially. Definitely lucky to have that and have a family to focus on and kids to raise. It kind of makes you worry less about the outside world and just kind of focus on what’s going on on a day-to-day basis trying to wrangle two boys around the house.
When do you feel like you’re going to start making a decision on free agency?
Any conversations, I don’t know when they’re gonna happen, but you’re open to everything. So we’ll see when that comes. There’s no timelines right now. So everything’s kind of fresh for the organization and for us as players. So you just take some time away. You don’t have to tie your skates anytime soon right now. So it’s just try to reset and reconnect. With the schedules, it’s been tough for everybody being away from kind of your everyday and whoever you spend most of your time with and your families. I’m definitely looking forward to that and when it comes time to talk, definitely open for everything.
Brian Elliott has been around the game a long time, so it’s encouraging to hear him speak highly of Carter Hart. An NHL goaltender is a very unique job and, as Elliott said, sometimes a young goalie has to go through some rough patches before finding his game. Hell, veteran goalies have to do that sometimes too.
Brian Elliott gave two sides in his answer to the next question. He’s right to point out that it was the whole team struggling, not just the goalie. Then, Elliott pointed out his impressive record this season, which is better than most expected. He was 15-9-2. The Flyers, without Elliott’s record, were then 10-14-6. That’s quite the difference and something a team will look at this offseason if he hits the open market.
Speaking of, Brian Elliott will most likely not be back with the Flyers. There will be better backup goalies available in case the Flyers need to do 1A-1B tandem with Hart. He’s open to anything, and bringing him back wouldn’t be catastrophic, but I can’t see them doing it after the way this season went.
Transcript via Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers Exit Interviews