“It’s just a little different not having that voice in the room you had the last three years. Hartsy was kind of the Mayor around here. You had a problem, you go to him. He’d get it sorted out.”
That was Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, talking to CSN Philly about former teammate Scott Hartnell, who returns to Wells Fargo Center tonight as a member of the Blue Jackets.
Hartnell, 32, was traded to Columbus in June, in return for 32-year-old R.J. Umberger. The former, a fan favorite when he was in Philadelphia, has five goals and nine assists this season, while the latter has just one goal and two assists. But the former is also signed through 2018-19, while the latter’s contract only runs through 2016-17. A factor in the deal, according to GM Ron Hextall.
“Yeah, I get it,” Hartnell says now, in retrospect. “I’ve been around the league a long time. I understand that totally and it just hurt my ego … I thought I’d play the rest of my career [in Philadelphia] and the change in a week was hard to take. But I’m excited for this time here in Columbus, this new chapter in my life.”
Hartnell has suggested that Flyers coach Craig Berube “had a big part” in the trade; however, Berube maintains he had “no input” and has nothing against Hartnell personally.
“I mean, he’s a good guy,” Berube said. “He did a lot for the team and the organization. We all like him from outside of the hockey rink to on the ice.
“He’s a good player and good in the room. But people move on and that’s the way it is. I have nothing against Hartsy and he’s a friend of mine.”
Scott Hartnell made a big impact during his seven seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers (sometimes it felt like he left a literal indention in the ice, considering his #HartnellDown campaign). Considering his interview with NJ Advance Media, it seems like the current Columbus Blue Jackets forward has some mixed feelings heading into his return to Philly on Friday.
“I’m a pretty emotional person I think,” Hartnell said. “Just to be in that arena and not going to the home dressing room and seeing the trainers and coaches and everyone that I love, it’s for sure going to be tough. Obviously, I had this game circled on my calendar for awhile. Get it over with and enjoy it.”
It sounds like he might especially enjoy the opportunity to torment Flyers head coach Craig Berube, who Hartnell believes “had a big part of that or a big opinion in whether to part ways or not.”
(Berube laughed off such a claim.)
While the Blue Jackets are obviously hurting in the standings, Hartnell’s production is high on the short list of things that are going right for Columbus.
He has nearly a point per game (14 in 15) and is making his presence felt with an impressive 55 shots on goal.
If you feel the need to contrast his work with that of R.J. Umberger – the guy he was traded for, though many will note that the Flyers had cap considerations in mind, too – it’s really no contest. Umberberger, also 32, only has three points this season and is currently on a seven-game pointless streak.
Still, Hartnell’s former team is scraping by in the standings (Philly’s 7-5-2 for 16 points) while Columbus is languishing with a 4-10-1 record thanks to a harrowing nine-game skid, so Hartnell would likely treasure a win against the Flyers more than individual accomplishments.
Of course, Hartnell wouldn’t be down on gaining both.