The NHL season will start Jan. 13 — the league and the players’ association reached an agreement Sunday — and Flyers goalie Carter Hart is ready, even though there will only be a brief training camp and no exhibition games.
For players, especially goalies, it’s not ideal to start a season without getting a tune-up in some preseason matchups.
But the pandemic has created unusual situations, and the players will deal with it, Hart said in an interview Sunday on the SiriusXM NHL Network.
“We’re all professionals. We all have to prepare,” Hart said. “... It’s your job to be ready for opening night, no matter what.”
Hart was asked about not having any exhibition games.
“Obviously, it would be nice to have one game to slowly get back into things,” said Hart, who helped the Flyers beat Montreal last season and win their first playoff series since 2012. But “you just have to prepare and get ready. ... It’s your job to be ready.”
Hart, 22, said he had been working out on the ice near his home in suburban Edmonton before traveling to Philadelphia recently. He is coming off his first full NHL season, during which he had an outstanding 2.42 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.
The NHL reportedly will make it mandatory for teams to carry three goalies this season. Hart will be No. 1, Brian Elliott will be his backup, and Alex Lyon will be No. 3.
Hart said Elliott, 35, has been a great teacher.
“Moose is awesome,” Hart said, referring to Elliott by his nickname. “I’m so glad he’s back for this year. He’s been an awesome mentor for me. I mean, he’s been in the league for a long time. He knows the ins and outs of the league and he’s shown me the ropes. When I’m down or haven’t played a great game, he’s one of the first guys to come and talk to me or send me a text. That goes a long way and just shows what kind of guy he is. The boys love him.”
Hart said Philadelphia fans have unmatched passion, and he doesn’t feel any extra pressure to perform for them and reverse the franchise’s poor goaltending trend.
“I don’t really look at it like that,” he said. “When I came up here, anything that happened in the past with goalies had nothing to do with me. Coming up here, that’s the way I looked at it. I just have to do my job, and that’s stopping pucks — no matter what happened 10 years ago, five years ago, or whatever. The only thing that matters is what’s happening now.”
Hart noted that he’s from just outside Edmonton, “but I feel like I get more recognized in Philly.” When he goes to a store or walks down the street, “there’s a good chance I’ll get recognized. But if I go to a grocery store back home, I’m not going to get recognized, which I think is a difference between here and Edmonton — and how much they care about their sports here. It’s insane. Our fans are so passionate and they love the game, and as players, you can’t ask for more.”