After stretch of bad penalties, Wild make Ryan Hartman a healthy scratch
Evason: 'He’s going to be accountable for his actions in the last game'
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Ryan Hartman has made a career of walking a tightrope. He’s the ultimate agitator on the ice, capable of injecting life into a lineup, the caveat being that he oversteps his bounds from time to time.
The latter has happened far too often this season, as far as coach Dean Evason is concerned, and he’s finally doing something about it.
Though the Minnesota Wild are struggling to score 5-on-5, Evason made Hartman a healthy scratch for Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Xcel Energy Center. The writing was on the wall after Hartman took a bad penalty in the closing minutes of Tuesday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“We talk about accountability,” Evason said. “He’s going to be accountable for his actions in the last game.”
This has been a common theme this season for Hartman, who has taken 18 penalties in 25 games this season. That undisciplined play has prompted a few conversations between player and coaching staff over the past couple of months. The decision to take him out of the lineup appears to be a last resort.
“It’s not a spur-of-the-moment thing,” Evason said. “If it’s not corrected, then we need to take steps to correct it.”
Asked about being a healthy scratch, Hartman took accountability for his actions.
“The meeting with Dean was short,” Hartman said. “I told him I’d probably do the same thing in this situation.”
It’s beyond clear that Hartman is frustrated, and perhaps that frustration is bleeding into parts of his game on the ice. After scoring a career-high 34 goals last season, Hartman hasn’t had nearly the same offensive impact this season. He missed a couple of months with a shoulder injury and hasn’t been able to get back on track since returning to the lineup.
Hartman said he might be overthinking the game a little bit.
“Obviously, I want to play hard,” he said. “There are times where maybe I went out and I was just trying to not take a penalty, so I was afraid to play in the gritty areas. I can’t play like that. I’ll be back here hopefully next game and continue to play hard.”
As a gritty player himself back in the day, Evason understands how hard it can be to walk that razor’s edge. Because of that, the coach has given Hartman a longer leash than some other players. Still, Evason felt like he had to send a message at a certain point.
“You can’t hurt the team,” Evason said. “It’s as simple as that.”
There’s precedent to Evason making someone a healthy scratch because of their discipline on the ice. He did the exact same thing to Matt Dumba last week and got the response he was looking for when he inserted him back into the lineup. Now, he’s hoping Hartman responds the same way.
As for how to walk the edge more carefully moving forward, Hartman offered an easy solution.
“Just do it,” Hartman said. “Just do it.”
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