By Jenny Masters
Cam York, a 21-year-old defenseman with a sky-high upside, was sent to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley on Wednesday.
To the expert or non-expert eye, this move is a subtle sign to Flyers fans that this season is meaningless.
In other words, these Flyers may be worse than last year’s woeful bunch.
After all, this was the same York who was praised effusively by GM Chuck Fletcher last May:
“Cam York, to me, is a young man that’s going to have a very bright future in this league, precisely because the attributes he brings are exactly what we need.”
At training camp two weeks ago, Fletcher pointed to the excitement around the Flyers’ youth.
“To me, that’s the main storyline of this camp — let’s see what we have, let’s see how good these kids are,” he said.
And his new head coach John Tortorella had an early edict: “I’m going to play the kids, I’ll tell you right now.”
“That’s the thing that York and I have discussed through camp is there are so many God-given abilities he has that other players don’t. We want to try to get to it. I don’t think we got to it,” Tortorella said Wednesday. “That’s part of my responsibility. I don’t think we got to the abilities where he could help us right now with our defensive core.
“For me, with Yorky, it’s not the physical skills. I think it’s the mental skills. I think it’s him learning to, first of all, wanting to be a guy that’s going to make a difference and then being the player to make a difference.
“Just remember guys, this is a young man playing a really important position in our game. This isn’t bad. This is a process of building a team. We feel he’s going to be a very important part of this team when we find our way. When we find our way, I have no idea. But this is the right thing for Yorky.”
He didn’t make it to final cuts.
York played five of the team’s six preseason games and took on big minutes. He blocked shots. He played 30 games for the Flyers last season. And the California kid then trained in Voorhees, New Jersey this summer at the team’s practice facility.
But he won’t be in the 2022-23 season-opening lineup Oct. 13 when the Flyers host the Devils.
“To me, I know it seems like he’s a high pick and it’s a big deal, we’re sending him down. I don’t think it is. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Tortorella said. “I think it’s so important these decisions that are made are for the right reason, to help this organization win. We can’t talk about winning without doing things to win. To me, this is a real small one in trying to find a way to win and a young man that we project to be a part of that winning team. Right now, he’s going to do it down there. And hopefully we’ll see him soon.”