The Hershey Bears rounded up three players from the team for a ZOOM press conference on Wednesday to discuss their feelings about the season that was suspended six games shy of completion.
The trio consisted of goaltender Pheonix Copley and forwards Beck Malenstyn and Matt Moulson. All three felt the same way about not having the opportunity to battle their way to a possible Hershey championship.
“For me personally, it left me with a lot of unresolved issues,” said Moulson, a veteran of 650 NHL games. “If they said my family would be safe and being the competitor I am, maybe I’d consider getting right back to it. It was tough not having the closure you have at the end of a season or the post-season. There really wasn’t any emotion tied to it this way. If we had that closure then we could move forward, but now all we can do is look back and say ‘what if?’ ”
Moulson was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2003, but never played for the Penguins. His pro career started in 2007 when he spent three seasons in the AHL in Manchester, followed by a decade spread over playing for the New York Islanders, where he had three consecutive 30-plus goal campaigns and played in all 82 games each year. From there he went to Buffalo for four-plus years and closed out his NHL time with Minnesota in 2017.
“The way this ended really just gives me more motivation to come back and keep going again is where I stand on my future,” he stated emphatically. “It made me hungry in my old age to get a championship.”
The 28-year old Copley, who has spent five seasons in Hershey (145 GP, 78-42-19) and 27 of his 29 NHL games for Washington (16-8-3), said he is one of the Black Aces who could be called up to the Capitals if the NHL resumes play so he has to stay in shape and be ready if that possibility should occur.
When questioned about how he thought the Bears would have performed had the season and playoffs been played, “Cops” replied, “Everyone felt comfortable about the team and definitely were sad because we had a good chance to make some noise in the playoffs. Now we just have to take a back seat and wait to see what happens.”
Second-year player Malenstyn, who was drafted in 2016, has played 120 games in Hershey and three for the Caps, made it unanimous as far as what this group was capable of doing the rest of the way stating, “It’s a weird feeling to end the season without any closure and obviously it is something we all wish we could change because of the opportunity we had.
“If we could isolate ourselves as individuals, and the families could be safe like Matt pointed out, there wouldn’t be a lot to hold us back,” continued Malenstyn. “Like he mentioned, I too am more motivated to get back next season to dig a little deeper to change and improve some things.”
Hershey finished 37-18-3-4 for 81 points, one less than Providence, the Atlantic Division winner.