Flyer's Scott Hartnell: A Good Use of $4.2 Million?

Billy WestContributor IJanuary 4, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 08:  Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Scott Hartnell #19 of the Philadelphia Flyers mix it late in teh third period at the Wachovia Center on October 8, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The picture you see is the Hartnell I like to see, fighting a Penguin.  But frankly Scott Hartnell is like a liability the Flyers like to have.

As a Flyers fan I love to see Hartnell on the ice stirring up the opposition, doing stupid things like running into the goalie or throwing his glove; these things must annoy the hell out of opposing fans, and when he scores it must really top it off. 

I also have a good laugh watching him make hard hits and mouthing off the opposing bench.  Hartnell's no Avery, he just gets a laugh out of frustrated rivals, and judging by his interviews he's a fantastic bloke, but sometimes his on ice antics frustrate me.  And other Flyers fans for that matter.

Hartnell costs about $4.2m under a very tight cap, and there are games when I feel he really deserves it.  The guy scores about 20-30 goals each season, and is currently 5th for points in the Flyers lineup with 25 points in 41 games.  In a league where dump-and-chase doesn't really work, the Flyers do exactly that, and Hartnell is very good at getting to the puck and keeping possession along the boards.  He screens goalies and picks up rebounds, and as a result he's not shy of having a multipoint game.

So why is he a liability?  He takes too many penalties and is well known for it, so refs keep a good eye on him, and let nothing slip through their net.  I could go into the whole argument of Flyers being over penalised, but whether or not this is so Hartnell should smarten up on the ice. 

Flyers seem to have gotten so comfortable on the penalty kill that they aren't afraid to take some chances while shorthanded, and it can make for some exciting hockey, but too many penalties can really effect the scoreboard.

In a team who already has the likes of Carcillo, Lapperriere, Cote and Asham, and with a bunch of kids eager to make the jump from the minor league affiliate like Nodl, Laliberte, Kalinski and Ross (all with a few NHL games under their belt), is it worth using that $4.2m elsewhere?  Hartnell has the infamous no trade clause, and has 3 years left on his contract, and even then, a willing team and worthwhile deal would need to be found.

Lately Philly seem to have calmed down in drawing penalties, and I suppose we can thank Laviolette for that (Thanks Laviolette), if Hartnell follows suit and is smart in his play, then he's probably worth keeping around for sure.  The lack of penalties has also corresponded to some good wins but also the Flyers having regained a healthy squad of skaters has certainly helped.

This month will be big for the Flyers, they have a lot of home games that they must take advantage of, and some big games against the Pens and the Caps.  It'll be good to see how things pan out, hopefully Hartnell plays that way that keeps the crowd, and the refs happy.


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