Close your eyes for a minute and let’s go back in time. Back to 2015, a much simpler time. Back then, the future of the Flyers defense core was highlighted by rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and first year pro Samuel Morin. A 6’7 hulking defenseman partnered with a smaller offensive defenseman, reminiscent of the Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer duo that made their mark in the form of a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks almost a decade before.
Unfortunately, that never ended up happening.
Ghost’s career with the Flyers started strong with his record breaking 17-goal, 46-point campaign but has slowly sputtered out in the years since. Meanwhile Morin has had trouble even getting out of the starting gate. He was the first prospect to fall into Hextall’s long-term development system and by the time he was finally on the radar of the Flyers he had suffered two knee injuries which sidelined him for much of the past three seasons.
Enter the 2020-21 season when both player’s value is at its lowest. Gostisbehere was scratched regularly and Morin was splitting his time as a forward with the Flyers or playing in the AHL. Then something unexpected happened- They played together. Morin was recalled to the NHL and utilized as a defenseman and Ghost was let out of Alain Vigneault’s doghouse and they were united on the third pair on March 25.
They patrolled the Flyers third pair and surprisingly worked well together. Morin looked reinvigorated as a defenseman and Ghost has seen an uptick in his level of play as the season has progressed. The following game on March 27, Samuel Morin scored his first NHL goal with partner Shayne Gostisbehere on the ice. The excitement that exuded from both players was a feeling of conquered success that hasn’t been felt in the organization in a long time. Ghost was the first player on the scene to jump into the open arms of Morin, the two players that have come up together and have faced their fair share of combined struggles got to celebrate the play Morin called “the greatest moment of his life” together.
They have played together in most every game since and have created a formable pair. It may not be the Pronger/Niedermayer caliber duo we had all hoped for, but the dollar store version has been just fine. It’s a tale old as time and a big stay-at-home player and a smaller offensive puck mover will work ten out of ten times.
Gostisbehere has been on the Flyers’ trade block forever and could very well get dealt this summer, meanwhile Morin is an unrestricted free agent and may or may not be re-signed. Even if it doesn’t last beyond this season, it was a small victory that we all got to see something we’ve wanted for so long, and given the state of the Flyers these days, minor victories are the only ones we’ll get.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: inquirer.com