The Flyers had just practiced for about 40 to 45 minutes and then scrimmaged for 30 minutes.
Carter Hart made his way off the ice around 12:45-1 p.m. He spoke to the media around 2:15 p.m.
Day 1 of Flyers training camp was in the books. Call it a day, punch the clock and head home ... right?
Not for this kid. Hart's day wasn't over.
Pacing one's self would be totally normal and accepted, especially at the beginning of a fast-and-furious camp in preparation for a fast-and-furious regular season, an unusual sprint that is the 2020-21 campaign.
Knowing by now that Hart isn't your average 22-year-old, the boss couldn't have been too taken aback when he spotted the goalie working overtime.
It did make him smile, though.
"Carter was here yesterday until 3:30 p.m. in the gym," head coach Alain Vigneault said with a laugh last Tuesday on Day 2 of camp. "He was I think one of the last two or three players to leave. He’s putting a lot of time in on his nutrition, on his preparation, on the ice, off the ice — he’s really working hard to become the best that he can be, and that’s what we need.
"We believe that we’ve got a young goaltender there that’s still progressing. Great rapport between him and Kim [Dillabaugh], our goaltender coach. He’s got to keep working at his game, he's got to keep getting better, he needs to become the best that he can be. But we as an organization, we need him to become the best goaltender that he can possibly be — and that’s what he’s working on right now."
Flyers fans have been gaga over Hart's prospects ever since the Everett Silvertips product was selected by the club in the second round of the 2016 draft. Hart was the first goalie taken that summer. The book on Hart was he possessed an advanced makeup for a 17-year-old goalie. He was a package of preparation and precociousness.
"He takes care of every aspect — his rest, his eats, his diet, his off-ice workouts," Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson said in May 2018. "That's Carter."
And it's still Carter. Probably always will be.
An inquisitive Hart soaked in having James van Riemsdyk at his disposal when he was summoned by the Flyers during the 2018-19 season. The two-time 30-goal scorer pays close attention to his off-ice habits and takes pride in details. Hart, a 20-year-old suddenly on the big show and thrust into the Flyers' net, sought out van Riemsdyk for professional tips.
"Just how I've always approached the game is I love everything about it, so it's like a 24-hour-a-day thing," van Riemsdyk said last Saturday. "Whether it's nutrition, make sure you're getting rest, recovery, proper treatment, training the right way, getting enough sleep, things like that. You try to just set a good example, especially for younger guys."
Before coming back to the Flyers in July 2018, van Riemsdyk played with some touted youngsters in Toronto.
One of them reminds van Riemsdyk of Hart.
"The thing with Hartsy, I think that he's so mature beyond his years that he's already ... I kind of compare him to Auston Matthews in this way: as good as he is and as good as he was coming into the league, he's not satisfied," van Riemsdyk said. "As much success as he's had so far, he wants to be the best player in the league. He's always thinking about ways he can get better and looking for things to improve on.
"He's confident in his process and I think that sets you up to have success for a long time and that sets you up to be able to overcome adversity. It's been impressive to watch him go about his business and watch him grow as a player and a person. The sky's the limit for him."
With Dustin Schwartz, his personal goaltending coach going back to when the netminder was 13 years old, Hart worked on various aspects of his approach this offseason before returning to the Philadelphia area for camp. They evaluated Hart's different depths in the crease depending on a specific game situation. Hart had a good training buddy, as well, in Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry.
"I know he's a rival," the Flyers' goalie said with a smile.
Like usual, Hart also had his eye on the diet. Any changes to it back home?
"Yeah, actually big time," Hart said on Day 1 of camp. "I think that's one thing that this offseason was really beneficial for me was I started getting a meal service. Both my parents are working most of the days, so I'd make my breakfast in the morning, then go and work out and then have a skate after, so I needed to have lunch in between. I hate cooking, I’m not a really good cook, so I got a meal service back home. It’s all organic, it’s all fresh, meat straight from the butcher. I get my seven meals delivered every week at the start of each week. Me and my mom would make dinner most nights. I would get those meals delivered at the beginning of each week and it was awesome. I feel really good, I feel a lot better, I feel leaner. I think it was really good."
The Flyers have an opportunity to be really good in 2020-21. This season, which commences Wednesday night, is arguably the Flyers' best shot at legitimate contention in 10 or 11 years. Hart became a centerpiece last season. He will be this season — and for many more to come.
"He’s very determined to be an elite goalie in this league," Kevin Hayes said last Friday. "Some would argue that he already is — I think he’s one of the best guys in the league. To see him on an everyday basis, on the ice and off the ice, it’s nice to see a 22-year-old kid put in the work. It’s no secret to why he’s so successful as he is.
"He’s an impressive kid."
What's next for the kid?
"I want to be the best I can be," Hart said. "I want to be able to give our team a chance to win every night, and for me, this will be my third — I guess kind of third year in the league. Now, I don’t want to just be another NHL player; I want to be the best and I want to be the best NHL goaltender. That's something that I strive for every day. For myself and for our team, we've got a really good group here again this year and I think we just have to buy in and compete and we'll have some success."
The tone was set on Day 1. Vigneault, the tone-setter of them all, knew it when he saw his young goalie in the gym and looked at the clock.
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