In 2019, eight skaters from the US National Development Program found holders in the first round of the repechage, a vintage that began with the selection of Jack Hughes.
In the middle of the session, the Philadelphia Flyers dropped three points after a trade with the Arizona Coyotes. After selecting Matthew Boldy (12, Minnesota) and Spencer Knight (13, Florida), the Pennsylvania franchise targeted a left guard with an offensive talent that made the organization dream: Cam York. What some will particularly remember from this decision is that his friend Cole Caufield was still awaiting his fate in the stands at the time. The Montreal Canadiens rubbed their hands in 15th place.
• Also read: Caufield: The Flyers quickly wondered, according to Michel Therrien
Three years later, the two former US National Team teammates have taken opposite professional paths. As the top forward from the first round of a Marc Bergevin-Trevor Timmins era auction thrives and excites the Montreal crowd, the other is hoping for a call from the big club. supporters oforange and black they are waiting for him too.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ most productive skater with nine points in 11 games, the Californian is riding a three-game streak with five points in the American League, where the Flyers’ decision-makers cut him after a disappointing training camp – especially in the eyes of John Tortorella.
York and Caufield: don’t compare
Of course, York is no Caufield, and playing defense kills the comparison game, as his coach insists.
“Defenders take longer to develop,” Ian Laperrière recalled during a phone interview with TVASports.ca. Cole has been scoring goals all his life. I have seen players like that, but the question is whether he will continue for 82 games.
“A lot of people doubted Caufield throughout his career. I was one. There are still doubts about it. We’ll see if he continues to score for 82 games,” he said, giving him credit anyway.
“He’s doing what’s hardest to do in the National League: score goals.”
Laperrière, whose candor is still raw, says he hears York’s comparisons to Caufield “only in Quebec” and finds it necessary to defend his protégé at this stage in his development.
He clearly disagrees with former colleague Michel Therrien’s recent comments, namely that the Flyers regret their selection.
“He is a 21-year-old defender. It can take five or six years to mature. The Yorkie had a regular camp and he’ll be the first to say so, suggests the friendly instructor. What the organization wants from him is not to create an offense by doing nothing. We want him to be more committed in defence. When he goes back into his own territory to get the ball, for example. We want him to develop the fame of an NHL player.
“The truth is there were others ahead of him in the camp and the best deal that could happen to him is to play for me. He gets big minutes, not seven minutes like he does in the NHL. With us, he plays power, shortstop and five-on-five. Juveniles are made for this.
To know which of his players is closer to the Bettman circuit, Laperrière does not advance.
“None. I work on developing guys to play in the NHL. Not for them to spend five games there before coming back here. It’s easy to play five games on adrenaline, but this is not the NHL. My goal is that they to leave and never see them again.
York wants his chance
If Tortorella, Laperrière and general manager Chuck Fletcher are fine with the plan to play York in the American League, the main interested party is doing its best to prove the Flyers were right to target him.
Even with veteran Ryan Ellis injured, his NHL tally has stalled at 33 games.
“It’s concerning, no doubt,” York admitted in a recent interview with TVA Sports.ca. I’m a quiet guy. If someone says bad things about my game or if there are people asking me to change, I have confidence in my tools. I don’t worry about everything. I continue to make my way. If they call me, I’ll be fine.”
It is precisely this character trait that Tortorella would like to see changed at York. While his potential and toolbox make him a promising project, senior management wants him to bring more aggression and character to his game.
Laperrière, who wore the colors of the Los Angeles Kings from 1996 to 2004, points out that Californians are naturally more “relaxed” than average, and that this character trait can suggest they’re creeping: “he grew up on the beach . He’s more relaxed. We can’t tell him to be too intense, that would be ‘fake’. We’re not going to ask him to be someone else,” he explains.
“Obviously I feel a little bit of that pressure,” admits York honestly. I try not to think about it. I’m trying to improve and nothing else matters to me outside of that goal.”
York also admits the decision to cut him was tough on his morale as he believed in his chances of cracking the Flyers’ formation.
“It’s not news you want to hear. I’m not crying about my luck, I’m getting back to work as soon as possible. I will continue to do what is asked of me and we will see what happens.”
What exactly was he asked to change when he announced his resignation?
“They want the games to come to me and for me to be more aggressive. I need to contribute offensively and stop more plays on defense. I am doing well so far this year. I have to work on these things to earn a return on the phone.”
In the same boat as Justin Barron
York’s case is somewhat similar to that of Justin Barron, who has faced him twice in the last 10 days. Received with optimism in the camp, the academic defender has been inconsistent in his performance in the preparatory calendar and he is gaining ground in Laval after experiencing a disappointment with his demotion.
On the other hand, if CH’s decision on Barron was predictable, what awaited York caused a certain surprise for Phil.
“It’s hard to digest at the time,” says York. As the days go by, you realize that you have to keep working to get on the edge. It’s not the end of the world if you have the right attitude and work hard every day.
“Baron is a good player. Defense is a difficult position. You spend a lot of minutes going up against the best players, the best playmakers. With the right mindset, you pull yourself out of the game,” analyzed the one who picked up his fourth point in two games against the Rockets this season on Saturday at Lehigh Valley.
When the Phantoms were in Laval on Nov. 5, York was unable to see Caufield’s electrifying performance against the Vegas Golden Knights due to time constraints. As he waits to face him, he marvels at his prowess: “I often text him when I see the plays he’s made in a game. I say “good match”. He has great talent and is a good friend.
During this trip to the Canadiens’ club-school, it is especially Rocket’s house that caught his attention. He ended the game with a goal in overtime.
“It was a fun game (in Laval). This amphitheater really is cold! It’s nice to have an NHL-like atmosphere with music and entertainment. It is different from other arenas where we play. The fans really know hockey there.”
Laperrière also praised his troupe’s only visit of the year to the city of the Cosmodôme. Even the 48-year-old started the conversation with the author of these lines by praising Place Bell.
“It’s an incredible place. “There’s something to be proud of being a Quebecer when you see that,” he exclaims. The music is a little loud, but maybe that’s because I’m old!
“It’s better than hearing me scream at least!” he laughs.
Ian Laperrière’s double challenge
Cam York is one of the prospects Ian Laperrière is on a mission to develop with the Phantoms, in his second season as a coach in the American League. In this county, he lives with a double challenge on a daily basis.
The man who played 1,083 NHL games over nearly 16 seasons should be dedicated to teaching, but the franchise owners, who are not the same as the Flyers, also want results on the ice.
“The owners want to win. They want to fill the stands. The Flyers want me to develop the youth. I try to please both. I have five first year players on my strength… five! Not many teams get past that.
“It’s my job and I knew it when I accepted the job. You have to bring wins to the owners and develop the youngsters, like we do with York.
Like many modern instructors, psychology plays an important role in Laperrière’s approach. It’s not about shouting loudly or breaking sticks in the locker room like Mike Keenan did back then “to look for thrills.” Other times, other habits.
Photo: Lehigh Valley Phantoms
“I’m not comfortable being too hard on my players because it doesn’t work. They’re going to crumble, so I want to find ways other than making Keenans out of myself. There are other ways to approach this. We have a great system, you have to bring passion to it.”
Laperrière cites a model on whom he models his style: “I really liked Craig Berube. He likes to be honest with his players. I also try to be honest. When I was playing, I didn’t like it when a coach told us folly and we thought we didn’t know what he was telling us was wrong.”
York says he appreciates his pilot’s style and honesty.
“He is a good coach. We learn a lot with him and as the season goes on we get better and better.
“There is nothing easy about ‘Lappy’. When training like in the gym, you have to give it 100%. Otherwise, he will not be impressed.”