Knock him down, he gets back up again
Carman’s Wade Allison has travelled a rough road, now he looks like a keeper for the Flyers
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PHILADELPHIA — It hasn’t been a smooth road to the NHL for Wade Allison.
The Carman, Man., native has faced his fair share of bumps along the way, notably a stretch of injuries that date back to his college days.
But every time Allison has been knocked to the mat, he’s managed to pick himself up. Adversity comes in different forms, and the struggles the 25-year-old has faced early in his career has only made him more grateful for where he is now.
“Just makes you appreciate when it’s going good just a little bit more,” Allison told the Free Press just outside the Philadelphia Flyers dressing room at Wells Fargo Center, just hours from playing his hometown Winnipeg Jets. “I’m not going to say I’m unfortunate; injuries are part of the game. I’ve just happened to get a few more than other people, but I feel like I’m over that, I’m passed that and I feel comfortable and I feel healthy.”
He added: “It’s nice to be able to stack a few games on top of each other and continue to build and keep pushing forward, build the confidence and continue to learn the game.”
Allison has certainly been enjoying life of late. The Flyers winger, along with the entire team, has been playing some of their best hockey of the season, including wins in seven of their last 10 games.
It’s over that stretch that Allison has also caught fire.
Playing the right wing on a line with a pair of veterans in winger Kevin Hayes and centreman Scott Laughton, Allison has three goals and three assists over his last 10 games; he had just four points (3G,1A) through his first 19. He earned the primary assist on Laughton’s game-opening goal in a 2-1 road win over the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night.
Allison said he’s been able to learn a lot from his current linemates, with both Hayes and Laughton eager to help out the Flyers second-round pick (52nd overall) from 2016. It’s little tips from experienced players that can make a big difference, he added, and the trust between the trio has allowed him to flourish in recent weeks.
“I feel like there’s still more for me to give in the game, finding those comfort levels in the game where you can, not cheat, but push and stretch the limits and where you can’t,” Allison said. “We’re just slowly building here and getting more comfortable each game.”
It’s not lost on Allison all the work he’s had to put in to get to where he is now. He’s persevered through a lot since being drafted, particularly on the injury front, to the point where it almost seems like a cruel joke from the hockey gods given how often he’s been sidelined.
In 2018, he tore his ACL while playing for Western Michigan University. Two years later, he suffered another injury while in Flyers training camp, derailing his season.
Right when it looked as though he could become a regular for the Flyers after a 2020-21 season that saw him collect seven points (4G,3A) in 14 games, he spent much of the next year on the injured-reserve, dressing for just one game with the NHL club, while spending 28 more games with the Leigh Valley Phantoms, the team’s AHL affiliate.
The streak of injuries and seemingly never-ending stints in the AHL might be enough for some to simply throw in the towel. Not Allison, though, who embraced his time with the Phantoms. In 38 AHL games, he registered 26 points, including 14 goals and 12 assists.
Ask around about him and players will say he’s the kind of person who is quick to flip a puck to a child in the stands during warmup, or give a wink to a spectator prior to a faceoff. If he’s not having fun, he notes, then what’s the point.
“You got to love what you do,” he said. “I remember being a fan as a kid growing up and I remember what that meant to me when somebody did that for me. For me to go and pay that back, it’s just a small thing that hopefully makes someone’s day.”
As a kid growing up on in rural Manitoba, where he would shoot pucks in the basement or out on the farm, Allison never grew up a Jets fan; he wasn’t even born when Jets 1.0 left in 1996. But his father and friends still root for them, making Sunday’s affair a special one.
“It’s always one you want to win,” he said. “Just to have something to poke my buddies.”
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.