Konan back 4/17
The Adirondack Phantoms defenseman was still on an emotional high from his first career NHL call-up.
Konan, a 21-year-old rookie, joined the Philadelphia Flyers in time for their game against the New York Rangers Tuesday in Philadelphia. Konan took warm-ups with the Flyers – wearing a No. 34 jersey with his name on it – before coaches made him a late healthy scratch, and he began heading back to Glens Falls.
Konan and Phantoms defenseman Brandon Manning had been called up after Flyers defenseman Kent Huskins was concussed in a game Monday night. Manning replaced Huskins in the line-up, while Konan was there as insurance in case an ailment kept former Phantoms defenseman Oliver Lauridsen off the ice.
Both Konan and Lauridsen took warm-ups, and Konan learned his official NHL debut would have to wait.
“Ollie’s knee was fine, so he stayed in the line-up and they took me out,” Konan said Wednesday morning. “I was a little disappointed. I wanted to play and stay there. But it was a great shot, a great experience.”
His return to Glens Falls, however, was far from great.
Konan’s phone died while he was in Philadelphia, so he could not tell his roommate, Phantoms forward Tyler Brown, that he was coming home. Brown, who has the apartment’s only key, had long been asleep by the time that Konan arrived back in Glens Falls at 2 a.m. Brown had, appropriately, locked the door.
It turns out that Brown is also a heavy sleeper.
“I was banging on the door for an hour, calling people,” Konan said. “Then no one answered, so I had to get a hotel. It was kind of a rough night. … It was a good day, up until that point.”
The rush of emotions started Monday night, when he got a call after the Flyers’ 7-3 victory in Montreal. Huskins was going to be out indefinitely with a concussion, and Konan was being summoned to the NHL.
Konan wanted to hop in his car and drive to Philadelphia immediately, but it was late. He decided to take off Tuesday morning for Philadelphia, and arrived shortly after noon. He had a pre-game meal at the Olive Garden – spaghetti and meatballs – and then took a pre-game nap. When he arrived at Wells Fargo Center, he saw a bright orange Flyers jersey with his name on it hanging in a stall in the dressing room.
“That’s the best feeling ever,” Konan said. “That was really exciting.”
The next stall over belonged to Flyers captain Claude Giroux, which Konan said was “really cool.” It was a bit of a Phantoms reunion, as three other defensemen in the room had played for Adirondack this season.
There were also players like Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Zac Rinaldo that had spent the lockout with the Phantoms, as well as established NHL veterans like Kimmo Timonen, Giroux and Scott Hartnell.
“Just being with all the guys and being in there was awesome,” Konan said. “I can’t ask for anything else. That was like a dream come true … I just want to play next time, and hopefully put the jersey on more.”
Konan watched the game from downstairs, and left before it ended to catch a ride back to Glens Falls. Before he left, however, he spoke with Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and general manager Paul Holmgren.
Paraphrasing that conversation, Konan said the two gave him a vote of confidence. They applauded his season with the Phantoms, and encouraged him to continue playing well and making strides in his game: One that sees him move the puck well and set things up in the offensive zone without being a liability in his own end of the ice. He has gradually improved since the start of the season, despite missing time with a concussion, and his confidence and comfort level is now at an all-time high.
“I don’t think I’ve gotten a lot better, but I’ve gotten better for sure,” Konan said. “I was a great player when I got here and I’m a great player now. I just have to keep getting better. That’s all I can do."
If he does that, he eventually won't need the key to an apartment in Glens Falls.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, is a different story.
A couple other notes from this morning.
Zack FitzGerald, who injured his leg when he missed a check and collided with the boards on Sunday afternoon, did not practice today. Without him to drop back to defense, Ian Slater skated as a defenseman to give the Phantoms four pairings at practice. Don't read too much into that as a permanent position change, but it does cast doubt on Slater playing in at least Friday night's game.
Without FitzGerald, the fourth line consisted of some variation of Shane Harper, Derek Mathers, Garrett Roe and David Laliberte. The other three lines were unchanged from this past weekend.
Jeff Dimmen and Blake Kessel got some power play time in practice today, but it looked like Terry Murray was rotating blueliners on the No. 2 unit. Konan also got some time with those guys.
In Philadelphia, Phantoms alumnus Zac Rinaldo and Jay Rosehill got two-year contract extensions.
Back in Adirondack, chatted briefly with Rob Bordson and Garrett Roe this morning about how the team is going to approach these final three games. And those two, individually, since these are their final games on their current American Hockey League deals. Look for that story in Friday's paper.
Until next time,