Scott Hartnell said he waived his no-movement clause and accepted a trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday because he wanted to play for “a team that was excited to have me, instead of a team that basically said I was done there.”
That was the message from new Flyers General Manager Ron Hextall when he reached out to Hartnell and his agent several days ago: That despite having signed a six-year contact extension in 2013, Hartnell wasn’t in his plans for Philadelphia.
“A few days ago … four or five days ago now … my agent got the call from Hexy and said there were a couple of teams that inquired about me. He hummed and hawed about my role and my position in Philadelphia, and he decided it was best for me to move on from the Flyers,” said Hartnell on Monday, after being sent to Columbus for former Flyer R.J. Umberger and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft.
“To be honest, I was shocked at first. I was upset. I was a little angry. I didn’t know what to think of it. I took a few days to look at the situation … it was hard. It wasn’t easy. It was a lot of emotion.”
Hartnell had spent seven years and 517 games in Philadelphia, earning a reputation as an agitator on the ice and a character off it. He was a fan favorite for the Flyers, from his unruly Sideshow Bob-esque hair to the “Hartnell Down” movement, which took a common occurrence (his falling to the ice) and turned it into a charity.
So it wasn’t easy for him to hear that his days in Philadelphia were done. “That’s why I signed an extension there,” he said. “But I’m not gonna sit here for the next two months and mope around.”
Was that a reference to Jeff Carter, who was traded to the Blue Jackets after signing a contract with the Flyers that ran through 2022 and then moped before getting dealt again, to Los Angeles?
Perhaps. But it’s hard not to think about Carter, Mike Richards and James van Riemsdyk in discussing Hartnell. All four signed long-term extensions to remain with the Flyers. All four were traded within the first few years of those contracts – all on June 23, no less.
Should players be wary about signing long-term with the Flyers? Hartnell wasn’t sure.
“It had a lot to do with Hextall being named GM, and he wanted to put a fingerprint on how he wants to play,” he said, discussing his case. “He has a different vision for the club and their style of play going forward.”
So Hartnell selected a club whose vision, he believes, could bring it a Stanley Cup, especially after they got a taste of the postseason in their first-round loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I was watching the Pittsburgh and Columbus series, and they had just as much a chance to win that series as Pittsburgh did,” said Hartnell. “That’s a great feeling for the team. They’re not just happy to make it there. They want to win.”
He has respect for the team GM Jarmo Kekalainen and president John Davidson building, because it wasn’t easy playing against the Jackets as a member of the Flyers.
“You were always checked, always being hit,” he said. “I’m like, ‘Ah, jeez, who are these little turds running around out there?’”
(In hockey, it's always better to be a turd than a floater ...)
Hartnell brings a similar edge to his game, which is something coach Todd Richards immediately appreciated. "It doesn't really bother me that Pittsburgh hates him, put it that way,” he told the Columbus Dispatch.
So it's another Philadelphia castoff landing in Columbus. Another long-term contract signed, another Flyer that signed it traded.
And another home for Scott Hartnell, after the team he loved so dearly decided it didn’t feel the same for him any longer. “You want to be with a team that wants you and loves you and wants you to be part of their organization,” he said.