Travis Konecny may have only been a member of the Sarnia Sting for a few months, but that short stint has left a lasting impression on the Philadelphia Flyers forward.
Sarnia acquired the former Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs standout at the 2016 trade deadline and he made an immediate impact with the team, scoring a hat trick in his Sting debut. He didn’t slow down from there, scoring 23 goals and 56 points in just 31 games with Sarnia.
In town for the Sting’s annual alumni golf tournament, Konecny says he’s been looking forward to catching up with his former teammates.
“It’s always nice seeing all the guys and seeing where they’re at in their careers and what they’re up to now. You see all the guys and it’s like you didn’t miss a beat, same jokes, same stuff, giving each other a hard time over old stories, it’s been great.”
Despite a very demanding NHL schedule, he says he still found time to keep tabs on his former team.
“I had a blast playing in the NHL, but at the same time it was tough to leave these guys, I had a great time here, some of my best memories of junior was in Sarnia with these guys, I watched most of their games online, messaging the guys back and forth,” says Konecny.
“It was a bit bittersweet, obviously I loved playing in the NHL, it’s every kid’s dream, but it was also tough to leave these guys.”
Former Sting Jeff King, who attended Development Camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs, says the guys have had been looking forward to the reunion for a while.
“We’ve all been talking about this for a month, we knew we’d finally get to see each other and have some fun, it’s hard to get all the boys in one stop for the summer. It’s been great, you pick up right where you left off with a lot of these guys.”
Konecny was in awe during his first NHL game, when there were more fans in warm ups than there would be during a typical OHL game. He says that was one of the many memories from his first season that stick out.
“My first NHL game was obviously very special, the fathers trip when I got to spend some time with my dad, the first time I was on a plane flying to a hockey game, there are so many that come to mind, it was all pretty awesome to experience,” says Konecny.
“It’s crazy you play a full year and you look back and it’s gone just like that.”
One of the biggest takeaways from his rookie year, if you thought making it to the NHL is tough, staying in the league is that much tougher.
“Everyone is willing to put in the extra effort to get better, even guys who are ten year veterans in the league are doing the extra stuff that they don’t need to do. In the gym, guys are there a half hour before they need to, putting in the work,” says Konecny. “Everyone sees Wayne Simmonds tip shots in during the game, but no one sees him standing in front of the net working on it at the end of every practice.”
With the Flyers missing the playoffs, Konecny was invited to play for Team Canada at the World Hockey Championships. He says although the experience was great, he hopes he wont be available to play in the tournament next time around.
“Hopefully we’re in the playoffs so I don’t have the opportunity to go again, but every time I get the chance I’ll probably say yes to go, it was a blast.”
Konecny played on Canada’s young line with fellow rookies Brayden Point and Mitch Marner. He says it helped having other guys there in a similar situation.
“I thought we did really well as a young line, it was nice having them there knowing they were going through the same things I am, they had the same nerves, it was something we all worked through together.”
Canada settled from silver after losing to Sweden in a shootout in the gold medal game, Konecny finished the tournament with eight points in ten games.