Former Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere embracing career ‘reset’ with the rebuilding Arizona Coyotes
The former Flyer has gone back to his college roots, sporting uniform No. 14 instead of his more familiar No. 53.
GLENDALE, Ariz. ― When Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher shipped off defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere to the Arizona Coyotes in July after seven seasons on Philadelphia’s blue line, Gostisbehere retired his jersey No. 53 in favor of No. 14.
In a way, the decision marked a return to his Union College roots. Gostisbehere, who wore No. 14 for three years with the Dutchmen, helped lead his school to their first NCAA championship title in 2014 (at the Wells Fargo Center, of all places).
But beyond embracing what he called “some pretty good luck” that comes with No. 14, Gostisbehere’s switch serves as material representation of the career reset he seeks with the Coyotes.
“Coming to Arizona in general, it was a little bit of a reset for my career and coming to a team that’s rebuilding, it’s a full reset, not only personally, but team-wise, too,” Gostisbehere said before the Coyotes’ game against the Flyers on Saturday night. “I think it was a good blend for myself and my family. For me to just go out there and have fun doing the things that I’m capable of doing, getting the results, it’s pretty cool after a tough couple years.”
On an individual level, Gostisbehere is well on his way to rebounding with the Coyotes after a challenging final three seasons with the Flyers marked by injury. Through 26 games played, Gostisbehere has scored four goals and 13 assists, which puts him on pace for roughly 13 goals and 41 assists if he sustains his current rate of production. Gostisbehere’s 17 points this season is tied for the team lead with center Clayton Keller.
More than a quarter of the way through the 2021-22 season, Gostisbehere’s offensive output is reminiscent of his stellar 2017-18 season with the Flyers. That year, Gostisbehere set career-highs in assists (52), points (65), and plus-minus (plus-10).
Despite Gostisbehere’s success, the 5-19-2 Coyotes have struggled to put together a winning formula, ranking last in the league in goals scored per game (1.73).
“It’s definitely a balance of obviously, personally you’re doing very well. On the other end, the team’s not doing too good standings-wise. It was maybe a little to be expected, but you’ve got to be grateful for ... you get to have this job and do what we do every day. So I think for me, it’s just being a positive guy, even at our highs and more importantly at our lows.”
Saturday night’s game between the Flyers and Coyotes marks Gostisbehere’s first time playing against his former team in his new home arena. In his last outing as a Coyote at the Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 2, Gostisbehere logged 19:31 minutes of ice time and notched two shots on goal.
Gostisbehere admitted he felt “nervous” going back to the Wells Fargo Center, but now, that feeling has mostly dissipated as he squares off against his former team once again.
“It’s definitely not as weird as it was when I went back to Philly,” Gostisbehere said. “Philly was, that was crazy. Lot of waves of emotions and memories. Crazy things. A lot of things happened to me in that building. I won a national championship there, scored my first NHL goal there, first NHL game. A lot of special memories there.
“At home, it’s a little different. You’re a little more comfortable when you’re at home. I think for me, it’s a little different, but still kind of weird.”
Brown building after injury
On Nov. 16 against the Calgary Flames, fourth-line forward Patrick Brown jammed his thumb and was forced to miss nearly three weeks as he recovered from surgery.
Brown finally returned to the lineup on Dec. 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and broke through on Friday night against his former Vegas Golden Knights team, registering an assist on Max Willman’s first NHL goal. Interim head coach Mike Yeo was pleased with Brown’s performance, describing him as a “warrior” on both ends of the ice.
“The way that he was battling on the defensive side of things and his face-off circles and the penalty kill, you know time’s — he obviously filled an important void for us when Coots [Sean Couturier] was off [with an injury],” Yeo said. “And so he just went out and played the game the right way. And with that, obviously, he’s found an identity with our team.”
After snapping the team’s 10-game skid with their 4-3 win over the Golden Knights, Brown is looking to improve his game while the team works toward sustaining their recent success.
“I think we can use that and build off it and remember that no matter who we’re playing, we have to play like that every single game, a full 60,” Brown said. “Supporting the puck all over the ice, sharing the breakouts.”
Goalie Martin Jones (.908 save percentage, 3.41 goals against average) gets the start against the Coyotes on Saturday.