Mike Vecchione knows the numbers game to make the Flyers this fall.
The Union College graduate, who signed with the Flyers last March and inked a two-year deal this offseason, will likely compete with Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, Matt Read and possibly even Michael Raffl for two jobs at training camp.
Despite the stiff competition, the 5-foot-10 rookie is not concerned with anyone, or anything, other than himself.
“If I worry about everything everyone else is doing, I will lose track of what I am doing,” Vecchione said at development camp earlier this month. “You have to worry about what you can control, and I have been pretty good at doing that. I think that is a big reason why I am sitting here.”
The mature mental approach for the 24-year-old is the product of sports psychology, a growing and popular science he has fully embraced. Vecchione was first introduced to it as a freshman at Union by “Doc” Wally Bzdell, a sports psychologist, who met with the Union team every couple of weeks.
The point that “Doc” Bzdell drove home which stuck with Vecchione was to focus on the here-and-now — and himself.
“After four years of his help, I stay in my mind and figure out what I need to do to get better,” Vecchione said. “I make sure nothing else can distract me from what I need to do out there on the ice. I’m a strong believer in sports psychology.”
It helped him at Union, where last year he was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top college hockey player in the country. The center will also lean on the same mental toughness for his upcoming challenge with the Flyers.
“One shift at a time, move your feet, win faceoffs, take a deep breath and move on. If you have a bad shift or practice, let it go and focus on the next one,” Vecchione said. “Doc taught me to concentrate on the ABC’s of the game. It’s the little things you have to focus on that lead to the big things.”
One of the big things is obviously a spot on the third or fourth line with the Flyers in the season opener on Oct. 4 against the San Jose Sharks.
“I have to make sure I play my game this fall,” Vecchione said. “The game is a little faster and the guys are more skilled so I need to improve in all aspects that I can. I am not going to get any taller but can get stronger on my skates.”
“I’m not too worried about all the guys who will be at training camp, though. I am just worried about myself.”
“Doc” would be proud.