The Philadelphia Flyers were already minus one of their best forwards, James van Riemsdyk, when head coach John Tortorella decided to bench his leading scorers, Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny, for the entire third period Sunday night.
Tortorella didn’t want to discuss it after the Flyers’ 3-0 loss to visiting San Jose, but clearly he was sending a message to the rest of the team: Play the right way or you won’t get minutes.
The Flyers trailed 2-0 at the time, and their other players responded to the benching. The Flyers, who were listless for the first 40 minutes, outshot San Jose, 17-6, in the third period but couldn’t solve goalie James Reimer.
The Sharks (2-6) closed the scoring with an empty-net goal.
What was Tortorella’s message to Hayes and Konecny?
“I’m just going to keep that in the room,” he said.
Tortorella, whose team lost van Riemsdyk to a first-period injury, added that the Flyers’ “whole performance sucked,” but he liked how they “played hard” with different line combinations in the third period.
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Konecny, who leads the Flyers with four goals, had one shot, three giveaways, and was minus-2 in 12:26.
“I wasn’t playing good enough,” he said. “I was on for both (San Jose) goals. I’m sure that had something to do with it.”
Konecny said Tortorella has been “on us about that since the beginning of camp. It doesn’t matter who you are. You have to play the right way. … I had some mistakes tonight and it was his decision.”
Hayes, the Philadelphia Flyers’ leader with seven points, was minus-1 and had one shot and one giveaway in 11:02. He won seven of 13 faceoffs.
Hayes, who had collected at least a point in each of the first five games, said he hadn’t talked to his coach yet.
“I don’t think he was too happy with my game, if I can guess,” he said.
Both players will have a chance to redeem themselves Thursday against visiting Florida.