When Craig Berube originally yanked Andrej Meszaros from the Flyers' lineup, the rationale was that he wasn’t delivering on the ice.
A lack of hitting, poor defense, not much focus.
Then Kimmo Timonen’s badly bruised left foot started acting up on the West Coast and Berube was forced to insert Meszaros into the lineup for two Flyers wins against Los Angeles and San Jose.
Those games saw the 28-year-old defenseman play very well. He did everything asked of him, alongside temporary partner Mark Streit.
Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center, Timonen will be back in the lineup against Colorado (see skate update). And Meszaros? Well, he’ll be back in the press box.
“It is what it is,” Meszaros said. “I have to accept it. Nothing more I can do about it. I’m finally healthy, feeling good. Not playing is always hard. You think about it all the time. … I’m healthy again and not playing and it’s hard. It’s hard on any player when he’s a healthy scratch.”
If it’s any consolation to Meszaros, this time, it’s not because of anything he did on the ice or anything he failed to do. It’s a “coaches decision” based on numbers.
“It’s just a numbers game sometimes and sometimes it’s not,” Berube said. “Today, talking to him, it was a numbers game, but he’s been a good pro about it. Kimmo is back and this is the way we went today.”
Unlike in much of his career as a Flyer, Meszaros has been fully healthy this season. But he’s played in just 34 of 58 games. He's been a healthy scratch in 24 games – more than a quarter of the season.
Keep in mind, this is a contract year for him. He almost certainly won’t be re-signed as a Flyer. Meszaros is currently making $4 million, a salary the Flyers tried to move over the summer and early fall before giving up.
Not playing hurts Meszaros' chances of showcasing himself for another team. That's why the Olympics – on a much larger, world stage – might prove his only chance to help himself to another contract. Meszaros will represent Slovakia for the third time.