There’s a Manning in Philadelphia, but he throws fists and hits, instead of touchdown passes.
Defenseman Brandon Manning, 21, got his first call-up to the NHL Thursday night and made sure everyone knew he wasn’t a quarterback, although he does act like one on the Adirondack Phantoms’ power play.
“He’s all over the news right now,” Manning said of the NFL star. “The guys down in Adirondack are having some fun with it, I’m sure the guys will here, too, a little bit.”
Manning made his NHL debut in lieu of Pavel Kubina, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, and it was a huge accomplishment as an undrafted defenseman who signed with the Flyers as a free agent in November 2010.
“It’s kind of been the underdog story for me my whole career,” Manning said. “It’s something I’ve kind of ran with and rubbed in people’s faces — people who didn’t think I could do it or teams that passed over me. Coming in last year, to do what I did and get an opportunity to play this year, I can’t say enough about it.”
He was injured for both the prospect camp in July and training camp in September, but word spread about his game, which made Peter Laviolette anxious to see him in the lineup.
“I’m excited to see him play because there’s been a lot of positive comments coming up from the minor-league team,” Laviolette said before the game. “He’s done a really nice job. He’s a good two-way defenseman. He plays with an edge. He hits. He fights.”
Rookies are commonplace for the Flyers this year. Manning is the 12th rookie to suit up for the Orange and Black this year and the sixth to make his debut. He was comfortable being in the room because, with Harry Zolnierczyk, Eric Wellwood and Erik Gustafsson, it probably looked a lot like his locker room in the AHL.
“There’s so many fresh faces,” Manning said. “If you look at the team from last year, and then even with my surgery, being around the guys, and being at the rink every day, this morning was just another day for me. It felt like September and October for me. It’s made it really easy.”