The Philadelphia Flyers will be missing Shayne Gostisbehere for their back-to-back games against the Washington Capitals on Friday and Saturday.
The 28-year-old defenseman was suspended for two games on Wednesday. During Tuesday’s 7-3 rematch against the Pittsburgh Penguins, he gave former teammate Mark Friedman a nasty push from behind.
The Scene For Suspension
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) May 5, 2021
Friedman had just scored an empty-net goal with 4:07 remaining in the third period. That put the Pittsburgh Penguins up 6-3.
Gostisbehere was originally assessed a cross-checking minor on the play. John Marino scored on the ensuing power play, rounding out the scoring.
Though Friedman went hard into the boards, he was not injured. He played three more shifts before the final horn sounded.
The suspension is the first supplemental discipline of Gostisbehere’s career.
In their explanatory video, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety emphasized that Gostisbehere’s was not trying to prevent a goal on the play.
“It is only after the empty-net goal is apparent that Gostisbehere adjusts his skating path, takes a hard stride to reach Friedman and begins to initiate this contact,” the narrator says. He adds that both the late timing of the shove and Friedman’s distance from the boards make the play dangerous — and suspension-worthy.
Friedman played just 13:20 on Tuesday — the lowest ice time of any Pittsburgh defenseman. But he was involved in the game physically.
After he laid a hit on Joel Farabee in the second period, Friedman received a cross-check from Jakub Voracek, then dropped the gloves with Farabee.
Mark Friedman vs Joel Farabee from the Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers game on May 4, 2021 https://t.co/tqqK9aeO26
— hockeyfights (@hockeyfights) May 5, 2021
It was Friedman’s third pro fight, and his first in the NHL.
No Love Lost
It seems unusual for a team to have so much bad blood towards a former comrade in arms. But longtime observer Bill Meltzer says Friedman rubbed his teammates the wrong way at both the NHL and AHL levels.
“Friedman is someone who can push the envelope a bit, personality-wise,” Meltzer wrote, “walking the fine line between strong self-confidence and arrogance, self-advocacy and not being a good teammate, and between forwardness and abrasiveness. It’s all a matter of perception, and as someone who (still) has yet to prove himself in the NHL, Friedman’s style apparently rubbed many Flyers and Phantoms teammates the wrong way.”
If there were locker-room clashes between Friedman and his teammates, Ron Hextall should have been well aware of them when he plucked Friedman off the waiver wire on Feb. 24. Claiming Friedman was his first significant roster move after being named Penguins general manager less than two weeks earlier.
The Flyers originally drafted Friedman in the third round of the 2014 draft — the first one with Hextall in charge, after he’d been promoted to general manager about six weeks earlier. It was the same year the Hextall chose Travis Sanheim with the 17th overall pick, and selected Nicolas Aube-Kubel in Round 2 and Oskar Lindblom in Round 5.
A native of Toronto, Friedman was drafted out of the USHL. He spent three years at Bowling Green University before turning pro. Then, he had four full seasons in the Flyers/Phantoms organization before being claimed by Hextall. He collected 61 points in 186 games with the Phantoms and had one assist in 11 games with the Flyers.
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Calling Cam York
With Gostisbehere sidelined this weekend, that frees up space for the most exciting Flyers’ debut of the year.
On Thursday, Alain Vigneault confirmed that 2019 first-round draft pick Cam York will suit up Friday night for his first NHL game.
Cam York leads stretches after Flyers practice. pic.twitter.com/jnDrXwNNBQ
— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) May 6, 2021
Also a right-shot defender, York should fit nicely into Gostsbehere’s offense-first role. His skating is outstanding, and his specialty is quarterbacking the power play.
“We want players to be put in situations where they can have success,” Vigneault said. “He’s considered a very good power play person, a quarterback on D. He’s done it at the college level, he’s done it for a small sample size at the American League level. We’ll see what he can do at this level.”
York served as captain of the U.S. team that won gold in January at the World Junior Championship. He grew up in Southern California and developed through the U.S. National Team Development Program. After two seasons at the University of Michigan, he turned pro on March 31.
In six games with the Phantoms, York has two goals and three assists for five games.