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Exit Interview: What helped Carter Hart find his game after a miserable March?



Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers

Carter Hart struggled this season for the Flyers.

After posting a 24-3-3 record and .914 SV% last season, expectations were high for Hart. He went 9-11-5 with an .877 SV% and 3.67 goals against average this season.

Hart struggled in March, in particular. He went 2-6-0 in 10 games with an .815 SV% and 5.04 GAA. He allowed three or more goals in nine of 10 March games, including four or more goals in six of those games.

He bounced back a bit in April with a 1-2-2 record and .910 SV%. He played one of his best games of the season in a 31-save shootout win against the Penguins, but that was the last game he played due to a lower-body injury.

Hart sat down for his end-of-season exit interview last Tuesday to discuss his season as a whole, the help he received from his teammates, where he goes from here, and more.

Carter Hart Exit Interview

If you look back at your year, what do you need to work on to get back to where you want to be? Is it physical? Mental?

I think definitely I’ve been mentally. I believe in myself and I believe that I can be a top goaltender in this league. I’m just gonna be looking forward to a great offseason of training. Get settled back in with my family and friends and, and get a good plan going forward for this offseason. 

When you look back, is there one thing or a couple things that started you on the spiral?

I think just this year was it was challenging for everybody. Tough circumstances, COVID and everything. Some guys it didn’t affect them and others more than others. It was a little bit difficult this year when you live alone and stuff and you just go back and forth from the rink to your apartment every day. But near the end, things were getting a lot better. I was hanging out with the boys a lot more. Some of the boys invited me over for dinners and just little things like that make it so much easier. 

In the long run, could this be beneficial for you as far as having to deal with this adversity at the NHL level?

Yeah, for sure. I think going forward, this is only going to help me with my career. Going into next season, like I said, have a great summer of training. And I’ll be ready for next year. And I’m looking forward to having a clean slate next year. I think we all are, and we’re all going to be better next year. I know.

When you had that reset at the end of March, how close do you think you got to making all those necessary fixes before the injury put a halt to your season?

I was feeling good. Like towards the end of end of March there. Well, I guess sorry, in April there. I was feeling a lot better. And you just start in practice. Practice like you play and I was working my nuts off in practice and off the ice and I was feeling a lot better with my game.

Can you explain the injury?

I just kind of tweaked it in overtime, and then it just kind of progressively got worse. And that’s just kind of where we’re at. Erring on the more side of caution so you didn’t have any setbacks. And I’m feeling a lot better now.

When was the last time you even got the chance to see your family in person?

Back in December. It’s probably the last time so that is like six months ago. 

Just to the point where you said some teammates invite you over for dinner. How important were your teammates during this season as the grind continue just as busy as your support group?

We’re all in this together this year and obviously, it was nowhere near our expectations for the season. And like I said, it was just a weird year and with everything going on outside of hockey but I think you really needed to lean on your teammates during this time. And like I said, those times where you’re with the team bonding and hanging out with the boys. I think that’s crucial for a successful team. You need that.

I just wanted to touch back on the technical side of things for a minute. Did you feel like you got away from the foundation of your game and what makes you special? Or the things that you had to work on in that reset? Were they just small things that you needed to just kind of straight now that you didn’t get to work on because of lack of practice time?

I mean, not really. I can’t, it was just kind of got a chance to reset, like you said, and just get back to work.

The conditions where you’re living alone and whatnot, did they help lead to when you started struggling? Or do you think it was that when you started struggling, you know, kind of living alone, kind of, you know, accentuated those issues and sort of made things worse for you.

I mean, for sure. You kind of go home and you’re just in your own thoughts the whole time because you just sit and sit in your apartment alone. But like I said, things were a lot better at the end. I was feeling a lot happier and hanging out with the boys more, and I think that that was kind of a big part of my play towards the end was just enjoying the game more and being more grateful for where I am, in the NHL, in the best league in the world. So instead of dwelling on other things, shifting my focus towards being more grateful.

Carter Hart talked about his struggles both on and off the ice. Hart, like anyone going through the pandemic, was seemingly affected by the isolation and quarantine aspect of the season. He may have lost his way a bit in March, but he was able to find it again after a few days off to begin April.

Hart looked like a different person and goalie after that break. He spoke about the impact his teammates had as well as shifting his mindset to a more positive one. Hart is confident in himself heading into next season and he has the Flyers organization behind him.

Transcript via Philadelphia Flyers

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