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Dad strength: Fatherhood could help the Flyers’ Travis Konecny rebound from a difficult season

The Flyers right winger talks about fatherhood — he’s ecstatic to be a dad — and rebounding from a disappointing 2020-21 season.

Flyers right wing Travis Konecny passing the puck against the New Jersey Devils on May 1.
Flyers right wing Travis Konecny passing the puck against the New Jersey Devils on May 1.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

If Travis Konecny rebounds from a subpar 2020-21 season, the Flyers’ usually kinetic right winger might owe the credit to the newest love in his life.

Say hello to Rhett James Konecny, born Aug. 14 and the son of Travis and his fiancee, Karly Girard.

“It’s been a crazy couple weeks, but we’re figuring it out,” Konecny said. “There’s nothing better than being a parent. You hear it a hundred times from every person you talk to, and you don’t realize how true it is until you have him.”

After working out at the Flyers’ practice facility Thursday, Konecny, 24, said having a child has given him a new outlook. Now, he said, he isn’t playing for just himself.

“It’s going to be pretty cool for him to grow up and see me play,” said Konecny, who signed a six-year, $33 million extension before the 2019-20 season, “so that’s something I’ve been thinking about. It’s pretty cool.”

Early arrivals

Konecny is one of many players who have arrived early and have been working out in Voorhees, even though training camp doesn’t start until Sept. 22.

Consider that a positive sign for a team that wants to quickly erase the memories of a dismal 25-23-8 season in which it finished sixth out of eight teams in the East Division and missed the playoffs for the fifth time in the last nine years.

“It was a weird offseason. We lost a lot of good friends and people we’ve been around a long time,” said Konecny, referring to players who were either traded or not re-signed — like Jake Voracek, Shayne Gostisbehere, Nolan Patrick, Philippe Myers, Brian Elliott, and Robert Hagg. “And now with the new group, I think everyone is just excited to get back and the opportunity we have in front of us. It’s been a good feeling around the rink.”

» READ MORE: Flyers goalie coach believes in newcomer Martin Jones — and in a Carter Hart bounce-back season

The Flyers did not do a good job navigating the coronavirus-shortened 2021 season. Some of it was because of injuries and illness — Konecny was among the Flyers who contracted COVID-19, and coach Alain Vigneault later hinted he brought the winger back too soon.

A lack of practice time also played a role, as Vigneault was unable to do his customary teaching or make the adjustments that worked so well the previous season.

Finally, some of it simply came down to too many players having poor seasons at the same time.

“Last year was different; it was an odd season,” said Konecny, who wasn’t his pestering, in-your-face self for much of the year. “Some teams and players adapted better than others. But at the same time, it was the same playing field for everyone, so there’s really no excuses.”

A season of struggles

Konecny, better known as “TK,” was one of the players who had a trying season. After three straight 24-goal seasons, he found the net just 11 times, which, prorated, would equate to 16 goals over a normal 82-game schedule.

“For me personally, as far as preparation and making sure you’re ready for any situation, I’ve learned you can’t really control what’s going on [around you]; you just have to be ready to play,” he said. “I think everyone is excited to have the regular setup coming back and to be able to travel around together, so it’s going to be fun.”

Even with his down season, Konecny’s 94 career goals place him eighth among players from the 2015 draft class. He was selected 24th overall that year.

Konecny downplayed his COVID-19 battle. He said he holds himself “to a high standard, and I wasn’t very pleased with how I was able to help the team last year. But there are ups and downs in everything you do. That’s just one little thing I’ve got to learn from, and I’ve tried to do my best to be prepared for this year.”

The Flyers will have a very different look when camp starts. Newcomers will include right winger Cam Atkinson; center/winger Derick Brassard; center Nate Thompson; defensemen Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Keith Yandle; and goaltender Martin Jones. Forwards Wade Allison, Morgan Frost, and Tanner Laczynski, and defenseman Cam York are among the rookies who will be looking to crack the opening-night roster on Oct. 15.

“We’ve got some guys on our team now who, when we used to play against them, you were keeping an eye on them,” said Konecny, whose young family has settled in Haddonfield. “They’re hard to play against and now they’re on our team, so it’s a good feeling to have them on our side.”

And an even better feeling to have extra motivation at home, even if Konecny’s sleep pattern may be disrupted for a bit.

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