When asked about his former teammate Scott Hartnell, Flyers captain Claude Giroux, couldn't resist a good-natured jab.
“He was the worst teammate,” Giroux said smiling.
Hartnell was traded to Columbus for former Flyer R.J. Umberger and a fourth round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
Then Giroux turned serious in explaining how much Hartnell meant to him.
“I got in six years ago and he took me under his wing right away and made sure the young guys were kind of ready for the league,” Giroux said. “He is going to be hard on you, but later on you will be happy about it. He has been great for me personally and a lot of young players.”
Speaking Friday following the Commissioner’s Breakfast, an NHL Draft function in Philadelphia, Giroux says it’s never easy to see a good friend traded.
“It’s tough anytime you are close with someone to get traded," Giroux said. "It is kind of hard to move on but as players we understand it’s the business side of the game and have to move on and now playing against him is going to be weird.”
Giroux is looking forward to Umberger’s arrival.
“He is a really good player and he obviously played here before,” Giroux said. “He has had a good few years the last few years and he is going to be a good fit for our team.”
Like Giroux, Flyers goalie Steve Mason built a great rapport with Hartnell. Yet Mason is also a former teammate at Columbus with Umberger. The two were road roommates for more than four years.
“It’s bittersweet,” Mason said about the trade. “I am losing such a great friend in Hartsy, but I am gaining my buddy back from Columbus so it’s mixed emotions on that front.”
Mason says the Flyers will greatly benefit from Umberger’s versatility.
“He is versatile player and can play pretty much any position on the forward line,” Mason said. “The way our lineup is shaping up, it is a very nice asset to have.
Mason said that Hartnell, who had 157 goals and 169 assists in 519 games as a Flyer, will be missed for what he provided on and off the ice.
“He is a great guy in the locker room and the city of Philadelphia and all the fans really seemed to embrace his style as a Flyer and he is going to be missed," Mason said, "but at the same time we look forward to a new chapter, with RJ coming back.”