When we last saw Sean Couturier, the Flyers’ center was in an intriguing head-to-head matchup against Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, two strong candidates for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, presented to the NHL’s best defensive forward.
The world has changed since the Bruins’ 2-0 win in that March 10 matchup at the Wells Fargo Center, the last time the Flyers played a game.
That loss, which snapped the Flyers’ nine-game winning streak, was before about 26,000 Americans had died in the coronavirus pandemic, before people were quarantined in their homes, before the NHL season was suspended two days later.
“Things are still changing every day,” Couturier said Tuesday from his Philadelphia townhouse, in a conference call with reporters. “The precautions are updated every day; it’s quite different just going to the grocery store to get food. There are some places now where you absolutely have to wear a mask, and if you don’t have one, they won’t let you in. We’re just adjusting to whatever we have to do to kind of help keep people safe and do our own part. Trying to hang in there and be patient and wait until this ends.”
Couturier’s wife, Laurence, is going through the Green Card process, and they are getting ready to settle on a house they purchased in Haddonfield.
The Flyers, thanks to a 17-5-1 run, had climbed into second place in the Metropolitan Division when the season was paused.
“Before all this happened, it was pretty exciting and fun to be a part of,” Couturier said of their surge, which put them one point behind first-place Washington with 13 regular-season games remaining. “We were all kind of on the same page with our mindset and [ready] to make a push in the playoffs. It’s too bad what’s going on, and hopefully we can figure something out to finish the playoffs or the year.”
Couturier, 27, said he was staying positive that the season will return and was “trying to stay in shape and be ready as much as possible.”
Asked what he was doing to stay in shape, Couturier cracked: “I’m going up and down the stairs, doing some laundry, and doing some dishes, That’s my training now.”
He later said he was going on runs and doing home workouts and push-ups to stay in shape.
Couturier said he and his teammates have group chats every day, and Kevin Hayes frequently initiates them. The players are hopeful they will play hockey again this season, Couturier said.
“Guys are still believing in finishing the year and the playoffs," he said. "We’re not sure how it’s going to go down. We’re optimistic there will be a Stanley Cup winner, but we really don’t know.”
With lots of time to spare, Couturier and his wife are watching Tiger King and “lots of old-school movies.”
Couturier was having another stellar season. He had 59 points, second on the Flyers, and a team-best plus-21 rating. The player known as “Coots” also had the NHL’s best winning percentage (59.6 percent) in faceoffs. Bergeron, 34, has 56 points and a plus-23 rating.
The Selke is based on the regular season, which might be declared over.
“It’s not really something I focus on all year," Couturier said of the award. "Personally, my year went pretty well, and so did the team’s. Obviously, I’m happy and honored to be mentioned in the award talks. It’s just another year where I improved, and as a team we evolved and got better as the year went along. I think my year kind of reflected the same as the team’s.”
Bergeron is a four-time Selke winner. Couturier, a perennial contender, has never won the award. Dave Poulin was the last Flyer to win it, after the 1986-87 season.