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Scott Hartnell understands demotion from Flyers’ first line

Mar 21, 2013, 10:02 PM EDT

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Going into the 2013 season, it seemed like Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell would rank as one of the top duos. A fluke foot injury stalled Hartnell’s season just three games in and things haven’t gone well even during his return. The lowest moment came when head coach Peter Laviolette demoted him from the top line altogether.

The Philadelphia Flyers’ power forward told CSNPhilly.com that he understands the decision and also gets why his coach has to use some tough love every now and then.

“I wouldn’t say ‘whipping boy,’ but it’s definitely, there’s been in the past, especially with Lavy, a message sent to me,” Hartnell said. “I don’t mind. I think I needed it, to be honest. Sit on the bench and watch the guys play. I had a couple shifts. Some of my best shifts in a half dozen games in the third period. It’s about how you respond to [adversity].”

The Flyers could use a healthy response from the 30-year-old winger, indeed.

He has just one goal and zero assists in eight games this month. Whether Hartnell is on the first line or among the team’s grinders, that has to turn around or Philly’s outlook will look that much bleaker.

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