Travis Konecny wants to embody everything that is a Philadelphia Flyer.
That includes the toughness that traces back to the days of the Broad Street Bullies. Even if he stands at a generous 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, Konecny plays as if he’s the biggest guy out on the ice.
“I think [the players] like it,” the rookie forward said. “I don’t back down. It’s part of the Flyers' character and who they are.”
Take Tuesday’s game as an example. Ottawa's Chris Neil, known as one of the more physical agitators in the league, dished out an open ice hit in the Flyers’ defensive zone on Konecny. Within a split second, the rookie jumped back up, spotted the puck on Matt Puempel’s stick and delivered his retribution straight into the 6-foot-1 winger’s chest.
“I just like to make sure people know I’m not going to take that crap out on the ice,” Konecny said. “I’m not going to be someone who gets messed around with.”
The 19-year-old says he’s not trying to “run guys through the boards” when he serves up these hits, more so it’s a way of putting the other team on alert.
“I’m just trying to send them a statement that I’m not going to get thrown around,” Konecny said. “It also gets me into the game a little bit when I make hits. When guys give me hits it wakes me up a little bit.”
Konecny, who is tied for seventh among rookies in scoring entering Wednesday’s games, also ranks pretty high in the checking department. His 30 hits are seventh among rookies and sixth among Flyers.
He’s also the smallest — by a longshot — among the hits leaders.
“He’s a gritty player,” said linemate Jake Voracek. “Am I surprised? I’m not surprised the way he plays, I’m surprised how big of an impact when he hits.”
The centerman of that dynamic second line, Sean Couturier, adds that the rookie is “not afraid of anyone” nor is he ever intimidated.
“Guys are getting on him, especially the way he plays, and he’s not backing down from anyone,” Couturier said.
Konecny has heard numerous praises from some his teammates, including Wayne Simmonds. Hearing their support of how he throws his body around has provided the youngster with plenty of additional confidence.
With a grin, Konecny said there’s a slight feeling of success whenever he upends an opponent. He did add that with the way he plays, he has to be careful about not getting too involved with the other team’s big boys.
Konecny developed this physical nature years back when he climbed through the junior ranks in anticipation of playing in the NHL where the average height is 2 to 3 inches taller than him and the average weight can be up to 25 pounds heavier than his frame.
“I’ve been focusing on that over the years, making sure I stay in shape and that I’m ready for the next level,” Konecny said. “There’s obviously bigger guys here so you have to be ready for it."
Will he ever tone down the physical play? Never.
As he put it, if the boys like it, then “I just got to keep doing that.”
Keeping Up with Konecny past diaries:
A week of firsts (11/1)
A trip to remember (10/24)