Shayne Gostisbehere fought through the first half of the season, battling a recovery from offseason hip/abdominal surgery, a bit of a sophomore slump, confidence issues and several games as a healthy scratch on his way to a strong second half that put the muzzle on the doubters for the summer.
While Claude Giroux detailed the weird feeling of his body not being able to perform movements that he’s always been able to run through on the ice, Gostisbehere refused to let the recovery become an excuse. However, it’s no coincidence that he and Giroux started coming into their own when their explosivenes returned at around the same time more than halfway through the season.
Either way, Gostisbehere’s confidence was down big time from his incredible rookie season.
He wasn’t taking the same chances and making the same signature plays that we became so accustomed to with his dynamic skillset. When he tried, they never seemed to work out the way that they used to. And then the healthy scratches started piling up.
“In January, not being where I wanted to be as a player, obviously I went through a tough patch there, [I was] a healthy scratch for three games in a row and it was a good reflection period, valuable work days and practice days for myself,” Gostisbehere said at his exit interview on Tuesday. “I think I really just learned a lot about myself and as a player just stick with things and get back to good old fashioned hard work and go out there and apply it and be a good player.”
You could tell that Gostisbehere wasn’t a confident player during his slump, and he’s not afraid to admit that.
“You can tell who doesn’t have confidence on the ice when they have the puck,” he said. “If it’s a guy who’s bringing it up and he’s looking everywhere, he doesn’t have confidence.”
So, what was the difference maker when it came to building confidence back up? Gostisbehere seemed to uncharacteristically take a stab at management when he answered, saying “I decided to go out and have fun, make plays. I don’t care if I get yelled at.”
Bill Meltzer shared that juicy bite, among others, from Gostisbehere as he reflected on an up-and-down season that helped the young defenseman learn a lot about himself both on and off the ice. Ghost detailed how he started to play with a “free mind” and it really helped his confidence and game, and you can’t help but ponder how much head coach Dave Hakstol has to do with it all.
Hakstol’s continued reliance on grinders like Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde and treatment of players like Gostisbehere and Travis Konecny puts a little doubt in the back of your mind when you think in terms of player development. Konecny is a creative young forward that will seemingly benefit from taking the Ghost route and freeing his mind, though not caring if you get yelled at could lead to more time in the press box.
There’s never truly a dull moment in Flyer land.
Watch a good portion of Gostisbehere’s exit interview below, via Flyers TV.
Be sure to follow CJ Burns and Sons of Penn on Twitter and Facebook for analysis, insight, GIFs and more regarding your Philadelphia Flyers.