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    Carter Hart granted "indefinite leave of absence" for personal reasons

    Charlie O'Connor Avatar
    January 23, 2024

    Carter Hart already was not slated to start for the Philadelphia Flyers in Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Now, it’s unclear when he will start for them again.

    About three hours before puck drop, the Flyers released a statement announcing that the 25-year old Hart had requested and was granted an indefinite leave of absence, citing personal reasons.

    Hart entered the 2023-24 season as the Flyers’ clear No. 1 starter, and his results through 26 appearances — a 12-9-3 record, a 0.906 save percentage and a +1.75 Goals Saved Above Expectation (per Evolving-Hockey) — were befitting a slightly above-average NHL netminder. But in recent weeks, the Flyers have moved to more of a 50/50 timeshare, as a result of the demanding schedule, the emergence of rookie Sam Ersson, and recent struggles on the part of Hart.

    Hart was absent from morning skate on Tuesday, and Tortorella announced that it would be Ersson and not Hart who would get the nod in net against Tampa. It is unclear whether that decision was made independent of Hart’s requested leave of absence, or if Ersson received the start because the Flyers were already aware of Hart’s unavailability. Cal Petersen — acquired in the offseason trade that sent Ivan Provorov to Columbus — was recalled to serve as Ersson’s new backup.

    Hart did miss two weeks in December due to an unspecified illness, but Hart noted that he and his doctors were confident that they had identified and would be resolving the issue that had caused Hart to become ill on multiple occasions in 2023-24.

    Hart was a member of the 2018 Canadian World Juniors team that has been under investigation by both Hockey Canada and the NHL since the summer of 2022 for an alleged sexual assault that occurred on June 19, 2018 in London, Ontario. The results of the investigations remain unreleased, and Hart has declined to comment in the past when asked to speak on the incident, citing legal reasons. It remains unknown whether Hart is a subject of the investigations, or when reports regarding the investigations will be released. Dillon Dube, another member of the 2018 Canadian junior team, was granted a indefinite leave of absence on January 21 by his club, the Calgary Flames, with the team citing mental health as the reason for his absence from the team.

    Hart’s representation was asked for comment regarding the leave of absence, but they had not yet responded prior to publication.

    During Hart’s leave of absence, Ersson — 12-6-3 with a 0.909 save percentage this season — will take over as the Flyers’ primary starter. After a rough start to the year, Ersson has excelled in a backup and timeshare role over the past two and a half months. Since November 3, Ersson ranks third in the NHL with a 0.926 save percentage, and third by Goals Saved Above Expectation as well, with a +17.98 mark. While Ersson will be spelled by Petersen (or another backup), it is likely that Ersson will now take on a starter’s workload for the foreseeable future, despite just 34 games of NHL experience.

    As for Hart, the specific reason for his indefinite leave of absence remains unknown, and in the Flyers’ statement, they noted that they would have no further comment at this time. This remains a developing story.

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