Mike Brophy·Profile

Flyers' Gostisbehere fighting through sophomore slump

A year ago, Shayne Gostisbehere was sitting on top of the world. Now he regularly sits in the press box, a healthy scratch for the Philadelphia Flyers in their past three games.

Calder Trophy finalist now a healthy scratch

In 48 games this season, Philly's Shayne Gostisbehere is minus-19. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

A year ago, Shayne Gostisbehere was sitting on top of the world. Now he regularly sits in the press box, a healthy scratch for the Philadelphia Flyers in their past three games.

Gostisbehere has slipped from being a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year in 2015-16, won by Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks, to trying to find his game as his team continues to cling to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

It has been a bumpy road, but the 23-year-old defenceman says he is determined to get things back on track. Being scratched is frustrating, but Gostisbehere refuses to mope about his situation.

"Obviously no one wants to go through what I am going through now, but I feel you have to have a positive attitude and not feel sorry for yourself," Gostisbehere says. "You have to go out there and work your hardest and work your way out of the situation."

Instant impact

After starting last season in the American Hockey League with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Gostisbehere took advantage of a call-up by the Flyers to become one of their most productive players, scoring 17 goals (five game-winners) and 46 points and was plus-eight.

His spectacular year earned him a spot on the blue-line with Team North America for the World Cup of Hockey, where he tied for the team lead in scoring with four points — all assists. The team was made up of players from Canada and the United States who were 23 or younger.

"It was a great experience," Gostisbehere says. "You never really had Canadians and Americans together like that before. It was fun to be there."

Unfortunately for Gostisbehere, it was also the highlight of his year to date. Gostisbehere is the first to admit things came a little easier than he expected in his rookie season.

"It definitely caught me by surprise," Gostisbehere said. "Nobody goes into their first few NHL games and expects to make such a splash. It was a great experience… a lot of fun."

No surprise

The "fun," it seems, has temporarily left his game. While Gostisbehere's flashy offensive style caught teams by surprise last season, they are ready for him now. Shutting down Gostisbehere is on everybody's radar.

In 48 games Gostisbehere has four goals and 21 points and is minus-19; hence his seat in the press box. He has not scored a goal since Nov. 25 — a 27-game drought. On the smaller side at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Gostisbehere's bread and butter is his speed, agility and creativity with the puck. This season, however, he has become predictable. Frequent observers suggest he too often shoots when a pass would better serve the Flyers and passes when he has a clear shot at the net.

Gostisbehere has taken to staying on the ice after practice and working at his game. Also, during games he has been paying special attention to teammates Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald — both left-shooting right defencemen, like himself.

 "I know it's not an overnight thing," Gostisbehere said about raising the level of his play. "I'm just focusing more on myself and what I can do to help my team; whether its defending well and playing great defence or contributing on offence.


Veteran journalist Mike Brophy has been covering hockey since 1977. A self-professed junior hockey junkie, he has covered the Petes for 14 season before departing to become the senior writer at The Hockey News and held that position for 17 years. Brophy has written five books including his latest, Unbreakable, 50 Goals In 39 Games – the story of Wayne Gretzky’s greatest record.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?