|Brian Flynn posts up against Dalton Prout of the Stockton Heat|
(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
“I’m pretty quiet,” Flynn admits. “I don’t like any attention on myself. I think we’ve got a really close group of guys, and I don’t think any one guy wants the attention on himself.”
Flynn signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Stars as a depth forward prior to the start of the 2017-18 season after spending the previous five seasons with the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres. The former captain at the University of Maine and native Bostonian quietly compiled 47 points in 51 AHL games this season, third in team scoring. Though he eschews speaking openly about his resume and previous accomplishments, his teammates and coaches speak glowingly about him and believe he will be key in every area when the Ontario Reign come to town on Thursday.
“Flynn is a seasoned vet,” said head coach Derek Laxdal. “He has a calming presence in our dressing room and on the ice. I think he’s going to be very important in this series because he can play through the hard adversity. He’s played in the NHL in the last several years in Montreal, and he’s been through the playoffs. His experience is going to help our young group, and it’s going to help our leadership group in the room.”
Such experience has given Flynn the tools to be a player who sees ice time in all situations and makes the right plays to help win games. “He really doesn’t have a panic point in the game, and he doesn’t panic with the puck,” said Laxdal. Though his skill with the puck is probably his best asset, Flynn would rather discuss his penchant for playing the game the right way while avoiding unnecessary risk-taking.
“I just try and play pretty honest. I don’t cheat. If you’re cheating, you’ll get some points--maybe in bunches. But I think in the long run it always comes back to bite you. If you look at plus/minus and things like that I think that I always play on the right side of the puck and help generate some offense.”
For all that the quietly consistent Flynn has done for the Stars this season, he sees his role as mainly having to do with how he can help his teammates. “Once the puck is dropped, I think that all the guys know that I want to win. And everything that I do on the ice is not for myself--it’s to help the guys win.”
He also owns the burden of leadership that comes with his list of achievements. “Guys know how hard it is to get to the [NHL] level, and they respect that. We have a lot of guys like [Roope Hintz] and [Denis Gurianov] that are going to play in the NHL for a while. I just try and help them out and give them some of the things that I’ve learned, because it’s a different game at the next level. Those guys have the physical ability, but if you want to stick around for a while you have to play smart. So I try to help those guys out as much as I can.”
In general, this seems to be Flynn’s overall approach to life and leadership. When asked about how his play measured up to his own expectations during the regular season, he spent little time talking about himself and gave ample room for discussing his teammates.
One such teammate, Matt Mangene, who played with Flynn at the University of Maine, helped Flynn and his wife transition to central Texas this past offseason. “We’ve worked out in the summers together for the previous four or five years. Once I signed here, you start hanging out a little bit more. Then in training camp, once you get here you don’t really know anyone so [Mangene] helps introduce you to the guys, and it just makes the transition a lot easier.”
Up to that point, Flynn had spent his entire life in the northeast, but he’s loving life in the south--particularly the weather. “It’s been a nice change of pace, and my wife is thrilled about it. Buffalo has a ton of snow, and Montreal has a ton of snow and is really cold. We’re from Boston, and it snowed there this past week. So we’re pretty happy with where we’re at.”
Flynn is also happy with the position of his team heading into the playoffs. A quick survey of the stat sheet will reveal that the Stars possess balanced scoring throughout the lineup, a critical component of winning playoff hockey. “We’re not relying on that one or two guys every night,” said Flynn. “You’re not going to go deep in the playoffs with just the same guys scoring over and over; you need it from everywhere. I think going into the playoffs we’re peaking at the right time.”
Beginning with Thursday’s game against the Reign, the Stars have a chance to do something special as a group, which translates into more opportunities for players looking to set themselves up for future success. “The guys realize that the deeper we go [in the playoffs] and the better our team does, then the better off they’ll be contract-wise and chances moving forward.”
In a lot of ways, the under-the-radar, but successful, Stars season has mirrored the contributions of Flynn. If they are going to make a run, they’ll need Flynn to keep doing what he’s been doing, but you won’t catch him talking about it. When the puck drops on Thursday, watch for him to avoid notoriety and incessantly pursue winning.
“The spotlight is not something that I want. I just want to win and help the guys.”