Despite Goal in Return, Benching Travis Konecny Doesn't Make Sense

ANAHEIM - It would be easy to say Travis Konecny learned his lesson.

That the benching last Friday night in San Jose made him a better player.
 
Or, that it had some kind of immediate influence in him and led to him snapping a 22-game goal drought on New Year's Day, when the Flyers lost, 4-3, to the Ducks in a shootout.

It would be easy to say all of that. But it would not be right.

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Sitting one of your top offensive performers on a night when his considerable skills were very sorely missed was a miscalculation by Dave Hakstol, even if the Flyers' head coach is determined to believe one game is somehow going to make a difference in the long run.
 
One-game benching embarrass players - see Shayne Gostisbehere - but don't necessarily make them any better.

That's not to say, however, that Konecny felt his time was wasted trying to watch the game from high above the SAP Center on Friday.

So high that the steel beams that support the stadium structure run rampant through the press box, and it's nearly impossible not to band your head on one of them if you have the misfortune of being seated besides one - he wasn't.
 
"You learn things up there," Konecny said after his benching. "You see different views and how crucial plays are each and every shift in getting pucks deep. Getting pucks on net. It's a hard game to play and a lot different compared to when you are watching.

"I was saying to some of the guys - I probably could have scored six goals up there. You see everything that is going on. A different view, but good to see. Hopefully, it translate into my game."

Some years ago, Ken Hitchcock was annoyed at the beat writers and how they were interpreting what they saw on the ice in their game stories.
 
Hitchcock didn't feel the media had the same feel for the game as he did behind the Flyers' bench, sitting high atop the Wells Fargo Center. We argued back and forth about it.

So, Ed Moran of the Philadelphia Daily News and myself challenged "Hitch" to spend a game with us in the press box and then tell us how the game looks up there vs. down at ice level.

Hitchcock took us up on it during an exhibition game and said, "You're right. The game is completely different up there."

Hitchcock went to club chairman Ed Snider and said, "I need the beat writers to be closer to the ice, so they know what the hell they are writing about. Put them in a suite."
 
Snider said he would do it under one condition.

"You're going to pay the $100,000 year rental for that suite out of your salary, right?" Snider said Hitchcock.

Snider was serious, too, and Hitchcock said, "Leave them up there."

The point is, punishing a player for just one game by sitting him in the press box isn't necessarily going to make him any better, any more astute, or even any more analytic. The game and everything about it is very different 200-feel diagonal from the ice.

Now spend enough time in the press box being bench and you get used to just how different things appear. How easily it is to miss something because you're so far away, or how simple something appears to be because you have a panorama view that doesn't exist on the ice?

Time will tell if Konecny really learned anything other than how detached from the game you are in the heavens.

Yet, Konecny says he learned something.

"I just realized I need to be smarter with the puck and the way I deal with plays," he said. "Each and every line, blue and red are so crucial in getting pucks in and out of your zone and over the red line.

"That's a big thing for me that I noticed. When we were making plays and getting it in, we had opportunities and when we weren't getting pucks in, we were getting an extra shift in our own zone to defend. It's a hard league and that's one thing I noticed a lot."

Back at ice level, Konecny said there was something Hakstol mentioned to the club right before the game in Anaheim. Hakstol pointed to something that was present during the Flyers' 10-game win streak, but has been missing - at times - since this funk began.

"Get back into our groove and find that certain mentality everyone has when you are winning games," Konecny said. "Taking pride in every play you're making.

"That's one of the things we talked about in our meeting - taking pride in every single play you make. You're not looking to win the game right there, or looking too far [ahead]. It's living the moment. Play each shift, each battle hard and know each game you put everything out there."

Now getting back to his goal in Anaheim, Konecny said he recognized the play with Wayne Simmonds that produced his goal because the two of them had a similar play in St. Louis when the trip began.

"[Sunday night], we had the exact same opportunity, so I read off the last game and I just drove the net hard and the puck ended up in a good area for me," Konecny said.

"I got two good whacks at it, and it ended up going in."

Not sure that had anything to do with sitting in the press box, either.

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