Whenever a player comes to a new team, there is that immediate sense of having a fresh start. It’s a new opportunity to show a different organization what you can bring. That’s the chance that Brendan Lemieux has in these final games with the Flyers.
Coming over in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings, Lemieux didn’t necessarily know that a move was coming. He had conversations with the coaching staff and GM Rob Blake, but he was more focused on not looking too far ahead because you never know what could happen on any given day.
But he has more than expressed his gratitude and appreciation for being given this opportunity with the Flyers. While anything can happen heading into next year, it sounds as if Lemieux would like to be a part of things next year. But again, it’s about staying in the moment and making the most out of this chance.
"“I’ve loved it, I’ve had a blast. I really enjoy the guys. I think we have an incredible dressing room, a lot of great characters. And a lot of good, young, promising talent. I’m just grateful for my opportunity and trying to make the most of it.”"
With the Flyers out of the playoff race, Lemieux will get the chances he is looking for to make an impression. He’s given the team good minutes and is producing as well. He has two goals and five points overall in seven games. That is after just three points in 27 games with the Kings. He did miss an extended amount of time with injury but was also a healthy scratch often as well.
When it came down to it, it seemed as if the fit wasn’t there anymore. With the depth and growth the Kings had up front, Lemieux was becoming one of the odd men out. Factor in the injuries and other circumstances and it was likely time for a new start somewhere else.
With Philadelphia, Lemieux gets that chance to re-establish himself as a regular NHL player. His style of play and energy has been a welcomed sight early on.
"“He’s given us some good minutes. He still has some things to learn as far as coverages and stuff like that, but he brings some energy,” Tortorella said after the Panthers game. “I think it’s important with a team out of it, when some new energy came into the team – I think he’s brought that. Made some good plays. That’s why he’s getting his ice time, he’s played well.”"
The mindset for Lemieux moving forward has mostly been about adjusting to the Flyers system and making sure to focus on controlling only the things that he can control. There is the other side of things and showing the Flyers that he can contribute and be more than just a physical player.
But the mental side of things, as any player will say, is possibly even bigger than anything else. Staying focused on the task ahead and not letting yourself think too far in advance is equally as important as the game itself.
"“When I think of being a good pro, that’s what being a good pro is. Not getting too concerned with what’s going on with the team or the management or the coach. Just take care of your job and let the rest of the outside stuff follow.”"
Tortorella has seemingly figured out who some of his foundation pieces could be moving into next year. He also looks to have an idea of which players will not be part of the equation. Lemieux doesn’t have as much time as most to make his impression on the coaching staff. So every game is as important as the next for him.
With the Flyers heading for a rebuild, there will likely be a large amount of opportunity for the taking. And with the mindset that Lemieux has taken with this chance, it seems as if he’s planning to give it everything he has.