Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Four ways Flyers' next leap will be forward

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Now that the madness capped by Monday's trade deadline is over, the real work of a playoff hopeful team can begin.

If only for this reason, Peter Laviolette should garner consideration for the Jack Adams Trophy because he's kept the club afloat despite a third of a roster's worth of rookies, constant injuries to key players and now two new veteran additions to the blue line.

Lavi has put together almost as many lineups as your average MLB skipper over a hockey season half as long as baseball's course; but now it's time to evaluate what should be done to ensure it all doesn't come crashing down in the next 6 weeks.

1) Establishing continuity with the lines.

We all know by now that Jagr-Hartnell-Giroux is the #1 unit, but there's been little to bind any of the other three. Having a roster set in stone will aid the process. Establishing chemistry is just as important as shuffling players based on situational hockey, so how about a nice 5-game stretch where the same guys are on the same line with the exception of power play and penalty kill?

What those line combos should be is something we can only really speculate about, but whatever the plan, it should be adhered to no matter what for this block of games.

Let them struggle. Let them get crossed up, let them laugh about it and sort out those issues on the ice and the bench. In the short term, points may be lost, but the long-term benefit will more than make up for it. For reference, the Life Line of Tocchet-Eklund-Propp did a lot of damage in the '87 postseason and Hartnell-Briere-Leino's magic was well-documented in 2010.

2) Keep Ilya Bryzgalov at the top of his game by starting him every night except in back-to-backs.

I don't care if he coughs up eight to the Islanders on Thursday and Sergei Bobrovsky has a near-unbeatable record against them, plop him in the crease and don't take him out . And then show some backbone and confidence by going right back to him for Washington. And then again for Detroit and Florida. Bobrovsky gets the nod at Toronto next Saturday then Bryz goes in on Sunday. Repeat as often as desired.

Resorting to the shenanigans of the first two-thirds of the season and yanking him at the first sign of trouble will completely counteract the goal of establishing the #1 goaltender physically and more important, mentally. Any blame from here on out falls on the head coach, not the man in the pads.

3) Reconfigure the power play.

What? Yep, you heard right. A power play clicking at just under 20 percent and tied for seventh in the NHL can become more efficient with tweaking. First thing I'd tell Joey Mullen is to get the defensemen away from the boards a step and another step inside the blue line for starters.

You wanna know why a lot of point shots don't get through? It's because the PP set-up is so spread out that it gives the short-handed team more room inside their box/diamond to cut off shooting angles. Same goes for passing -- the more space you allow the defenders, the riskier each pass becomes.

Second thing is to allow for some creativity and innate reaction time in a two-man advantage.

It's a difficult thing to tell that to players at this late a date after they've spent the whole season memorizing where they need to be on the ice, but it's a key, subtle move. Keeping the penalty killers -- and more importantly the opposing goaltender -- constantly moving and guessing and
forcing them out of their own spots will open up lanes that aren't there once the tempo is slowed down enough to establish the usual positions.

4) Rest the veterans.

Here's another short-term loss, long-term gain issue. There aren't as many pieces to this puzzle as there were two years ago, but it's imperative that Jaromir Jagr, Danny Briere, Pavel Kubina, Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell get some additional rest as the stakes get higher.

At this point, simple maintenance days aren't enough. One-game absences are in order to ensure maximum output. Briere's should come first in the wake of the hit he took last night in San Jose, and after that it should be up to Laviolette and the coaching staff/training staff's discretion.

Don't believe it can work? Well, what has the first 62 games of this season taught us if nothing else? The Flyers can get along for short bursts of time without key personnel for a variety of reasons. The only palms who will sweat over ideas like this are the ones who buy the tickets and the merchandise.

The idea is novel, but not new. Bob McCammon instituted rest periods for Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber and others at the end of the 1983-84 season, but the implementation and execution came under fire when Clarke publicly resisted, Barber suffered a career-ending knee injury and the Flyers bombed out in three straight against the Capitals.

Temple's Hardin, Palmer on college HOF ballot

PHILADELPHIA – Former Temple football coach Wayne Hardin (1970-82) and running back Paul Palmer (1983-86) are among the 84 honorees on the 2012 Football Bowl Subdivision Ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation announced today.

“Having a ballot and a voice in the selection of the inductees is one of the most cherished NFF member benefits,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, a 1989 Hall of Fame inductee from Ole Miss. “There is no group more knowledgeable or passionate about college football than our membership, and the tradition of the ballot helps us engage them in the lofty responsibility of selecting those who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in our sport.”

Hardin, who coached at Navy (1959-64) before heading to Temple, led the Owls to a No. 17 ranking in 1979. He is Temple’s all-time leader in wins (80), leading the Owls to their only 10-win season and their first bowl win in the 1979 Garden State Bowl.

Palmer was an unanimous first-team All-American in 1986, his senior season. He led the nation in rushing yards (1,866), rushing yards per game (169.6) and all-purpose yards (2,633) that season. Named 1986 ECAC Player of the Year, Palmer set 23 school records and remains the Owls’ career leader in rushing attempts (935), rushing yards (4,895), 100-yard rushing games (21), and 200-yard rushing games (6) .

The ballot was mailed this week to the more than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers whose votes will be tabulated and submitted to the NFF's Honors Court, which deliberates and selects the class. Chaired by Gene Corrigan, a former ACC Commissioner and NCAA president, the 14-member NFF Honors Court includes an elite and geographically diverse pool of athletics directors, conference commissioners, Hall of Famers and members of the media.

The FBS Hall of Fame Class will be announced live in New York City during a Noon press conference on May 15 and inducted at the 55th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on December 4, 2012 at the landmark Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

To be eligible for the ballot, players must have been named a First-team All-American by a major/national selector as recognized and utilized by the NCAA for their consensus All-America teams; played their last year of intercollegiate football at least ten years prior; played within the last 50 years and cannot be currently playing professional football. Coaches must have coached a minimum of 10 years and 100 games as a head coach; won at least 60% of their games; and be retired from coaching for at least three years. If a coach is retired and over the age of 70, there is no waiting period. If he is over the age of 75, he is eligible as an active coach. In both cases, the candidate's post-football record as a citizen may also be weighed.

Wilson and Taylor to meet for NABF Cruiserweight crown in AC

Philly's Garrett Wilson

Atlantic City, NJ—Garrett Wilson, of Philadelphia, PA, and Andres Taylor, of Johnstown, PA, meet for the second time in less than 19 months as they battle for the vacant North American Boxing Federation (NABF) cruiserweight title on Saturday evening, April 14, at Bally’s Atlantic City.

The Wilson-Taylor championship contest tops a seven-bout card which begins at 7.30 pm. in the 1,500-seat Grand Ballroom.

Wilson and Taylor met the first time on Sept. 11, 2010, in Johnstown, PA, in a scheduled eight-round fight which Wilson accepted on three days’ notice.  The outdoor match was interrupted by rain after the fifth round and later resumed with one official voting for Wilson, one for Taylor, one for a draw.

Since then, Wilson, 29, has beaten Aaron Williams, of Las Vegas, NV; Omar Sheika, of Paterson, NJ; Chuck Mussachio, of Wildwood, NJ, and Pedro Martinez, of Philadelphia, PA.  He captured the United States Boxing Association (USBA) cruiserweight title by beating Sheika and defended it against Mussachio.

Wilson is 12-5-1, 6 K0s.  He is rated No. 9 in the world by the International Boxing Federation (IBF), No. 23 by the World Boxing Council (WBC).  He tuned up for this fight on Feb. 25 by stopping Martinez in three rounds at Bally’s.

Taylor, 33, also has not lost since fighting Wilson, earning decisions over Rayshawn Myers, of Cleveland, OH; Kamarah Pasley, of Philadelphia, PA; Mike Alderete, ofAlbuquerque, NM, andGary Gomez, of Salt Lake City, UT.

A pro less than four years, Taylor is 20-1-2, 7 K0s. and rated No. 33 by the WBC.  His last fight was Nov. 23, 2010, in Pittsburgh, PA, when he out-pointed Gomez over eight rounds.

Taylor (above) suffered his only pro loss in 2009 when Leo Bercier, of Great Falls, MT, out-pointed him in Campbell, OH.  Taylor avenged the loss three months later, also on points, in Johnstown, PA.

There are no common foes.

Taylor has gone eight rounds on three different occasions.  Wilson has gone 12 rounds twice.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Union Fan Fest set for March 14

The Philadelphia Union Fan Fest, a meet-and-greet event where fans can interact with current Philadelphia Union players, will be held on Wednesday, March 14 at Chickie’s & Pete’s PLAY2 from 7:00- 8:30 p.m. 

Union season ticket holders will have exclusive access from 6:30-7:00 p.m. before doors open to the public at 7:00 p.m. Play2 is located at 1526 Packer Avenue in Philadelphia.

The Union open up the 2012 season on March 12 with a nationally-televised game against Portland at 9:30 p.m. EST. The club then returns home to PPL Park on Sunday, March 18 to face the Colorado Rapids at 4:00 p.m.

The Nick and Artie Show coming to WIP

The Nick and Artie Show has added SportsRadio 610WIP, in Philadelphia to its list of affiliates.

Produced by DIRECTV, The Nick and Artie Show is a hilarious, late-night look at the world of sports and guy stuff from the perspective of two fans.

Distributed by Premiere Networks, the program features Artie Lange, best known for his work on MADtv and The Howard Stern Show; and Nick DiPaolo, who has made frequent appearances on the Stern Show and Comedy Central. 

The Nick and Artie Show airs Monday through Friday from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET and is streamed live on the show’s website,

Sixers' Hawes out an additional two weeks

Sixers center  Spencer Hawes will miss at least another two weeks with an Achilles injury, the team announced Monday.

Hawes, who has sat out the last nine games with a sprained left Achilles, was examined by Dr. Richard Ferkel of the Southern California Orthopedic Institute this past weekend. He will no longer wear a protective boot on his left foot.

The 23-year-old is averaging 10.5 points and 8.3 rebounds but has appeared in just 14 of the 76ers' 34 games this season.

Philadelphia is in the midst of a season-long five-game losing streak and is just 8-12 without Hawes vs. 12-2 with him on the season.

Lavoy Allen will start at center for Philadelphia tonight against the Pistons.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Eagles sign backup QB Edwards

The Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to terms with QB Trent Edwards on a one-year contract.

Edwards (6-4, 230) played in 37 games from 2007-10, making 32 starts with Buffalo and one with Jacksonville after being waived by the Bills in September of 2010. The Los Gatos, CA native has completed 60.5% of his passes (561-of-927) for 6,019 yards and 26 touchdowns over his career. Edwards was signed by the Oakland Raiders prior to training camp in 2011 but did not make their regular season roster. He set career-highs in 2008 with a 65.5% completion rate (245-of-374) for 2,699 yards and 11 scores in 14 starts for the Bills. The former Stanford signal caller was drafted in the third round (92nd overall selection) by Buffalo in 2007, and his nine starts that year were the most by a rookie quarterback that season.

During his collegiate career, Edwards made 31 starts for the Cardinal from 2003-06 and finished sixth in Stanford annals in completions (487) and passing attempts (865) and seventh all-time in passing yards (5,429) and touchdowns (36). He enjoyed his best campaign as a redshirt junior in 2005, completing 168 of 268 passes (62.7%) for 1,934 yards, 17 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. He graduated with a political science degree before entering the draft.

Carter, Richards and the Orange and Black oasis of LA

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Now that Jeff Carter and Mike Richards have been reunited after a long, torturous eight months apart, the NHL's most passionate Bromance is free to continue.

In a serious understatement, Carter said this upon the revelation of the deal: "I am obviously excited. I am familiar with the team and a lot of guys on the team."

And how.

It's hard not to notice what's going on out in Los Angeles. It's as if the Kings are an incubator, or dare I say it, a rehab space, for former Philadelphia Flyers.

Though Serenity Knolls it's not -- and despite the fact that stories of the Terror Twins tearing through Olde City are legion -- it's becoming very obvious that the future of the Crowned Ones is hitched to Eastern stars.

With the addition of Carter from Columbus on Thursday night, that brings the total number of former Philadelphia players on the roster to four (Simon Gagne and Justin Williams are the others). Add to that, former head coach and assistant Terry Murray and John Stevens presided over the club at the start of the season, and that LA's assistant GM is none other than Ron Hextall and its general manager is former scout Dean Lombardi, and no wonder it's being called Philadelphia West.

So what if this is no accident? What if it really is meant to be that so many ex-Flyers wind up on the Left Coast? And what if this is just a pit stop for the one-time babyfaced assassins who roamed the ice, the bars and frat parties "back home?"

The New York Yankees wouldn't have been as good as they were in the late 1950s and early 1960's if the franchise hadn't struck an "agreement" with the Kansas City Athletics. The skids were greased because then-Yanks owner Dan Topping persuaded friend Arnold Johnson to buy the A's from Connie Mack and relocate to Western Missouri in 1954.

Over the next six seasons, a suspicious number of players saw "playing time" in Kansas City before being called back to the big leagues: Bob Cerv, Clete Boyer, Billy Martin, Ralph Terry, Hank Bauer and the most famous of all in the pipeline, Roger Maris.

The Flyers are notorious for finding willing trade partners whose influence will not affect the club's playoff hopes in the East. Phoenix and Nashville had gained Most Favored status in recent years, up until a virtual Breakaway Republic gravitated away from Philadelphia and out to Southern California.

Now, with the sweet set-up in Los Angeles, the possibility of being burned through trade has been eliminated. There's a ready-made feeder system in place. And two new projects have popped up on the radar.

“He made a long-term commitment to Philadelphia," said Jackets GM Scott Howson. "It was hard for him to deal with the trade [from Philadelphia to Columbus]."

Given that obvious fact, it's hard not to think of the former 2003 draft picks as waiting to be molded back into the kind of players (and for that matter, men) who will be ready to return to the Flyers with more seasoning and maturity.

They're in the best possible environment now, far away from the passionate but fickle fans and the intrusive media here, under the wing of simpatico front office personnel. It's an audition as much as it is a convalescence. What happens from now on is up to them, and any distractions and blame can't be directed anywhere but on their own heads.

With any luck, in four or five years, sometime close to the end of their original decade-long contracts Paul Holmgren awarded them, Carter and Richards will ride back out of the sunset. It'll be a fiery orange ball of glory directed to the Quaker City. And, sufficiently chastened, they'll be able to capture the magic of the 2010 playoff run on a more consistent basis.

The waiting is always the hardest part.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Carter gets wish, reunited with Richards

Jeff Carter would never be and will never have become part of the Columbus Blue Jackets turn towards respectability, as much for the franchise's total inability to find success as much as for Carter's own dislike of the situation following the trade last Summer from Philadelphia for Jake Voracek and the pick which became Sean Couturier.

On Thursday night, the Kings pulled the trigger on a deal which sent defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick either 2012 or 2013 to the LA in exchange for the 27-year-old scorer, who was languishing in his first pro year away from the club which drafted him in 2003.

“Jeff is a proven goal scorer in our league. He brings goal-scoring abilities, speed and at his age he is entering the prime of his career. We also like his versatility as he can play both center and wing,” said Kings GM Dean Lombardi shortly after the deal was struck. “We also want to wish Jack Johnson the best going forward.”

Thus, exactly eight months to the day both men were liberated from Dry Island and shipped their separate ways, a reunion will take place in the shadow of Hollywood.

The sum total of Carter's production in Ohio's capital is 15 goals -- including two hat tricks -- and 25 points in 39 games.

Carter brings 500 games of NHL experience and 196 goals to a Kings team which has totaled a league-low 129 goals.

Both Carter and Richards bring to Southern California a two-man wrecking crew not seen since the Glimmer Twins were in their prime.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Three Temple players invited to NFL Combine

PHILADELPHIA – For the second consecutive year, three Temple football players have been invited to the NFL Combine. This week junior All-American running back Bernard Pierce (Ardmore, Pa.), senior tight end Evan Rodriguez (North Bergen, N.J.), and senior linebacker Tahir Whitehead (Newark, N.J.) will participate in the 2012 NFL Combine in Indianapolis to be held Feb. 22-28 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The annual NFL Combine provides more than 300 college players the opportunity to showcase their skills and meet with each of the 32 NFL teams head coaches, coaching staffs, personnel directors, and scouts in preparation of the 2012 NFL Draft.  The NFL Combine will be televised on the NFL Network and

Pierce, who decided to forego his senior season, is a three-time first-team All-MAC honoree and was named the 2009 MAC Freshman of the Year. In 2011 he became Temple’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (53), total touchdowns (54), and points scored (324). Pierce also set the season records for rushing TDs (27), total TDs (27), points scored (162), and 100-yard rushing games (9), while setting game records for rushing TDs in a game (5 at Maryland) and points scored (30 at Maryland).

Rodriguez, who played in the East-West Shrine Game, is a two-time first-team All-MAC selection. He played in all 13 games with 12 starts at tight end in 2011. Named to the Mackey Award Watch List, he led the Owls with 479 yards and two touchdowns on 35 receptions. In the win at Maryland, Rodriguez had a career-high 96 yards on five receptions en route to National TE?of the Week honors from the National Football Performance Awards.

Whitehead, a team captain, was a second-team All-MAC honoree in 2011 and the Defensive MVP of the 2011 Gildan New Mexico Bowl.  He played in all 13 games with 12 starts at Sam linebacker. Named to the Butkus Award Watch List, he finished third in team tackling with 70 tackles, a team-best 13.5 TFL for a loss of 66 yards, five sacks, four forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.

Last spring, senior safety Jaiquawn Jarrett (Brooklyn, N.Y.), senior linebacker Elijah “Peanut” Joseph (Hartford, Conn.), and junior defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson (Linden, N.J.) were invited to the Combine.  Wilkerson was a first round pick (30th overall) by the New York Jets, while Jarrett was a second round selection (54th overall) by the Philadelphia Eagles.

The 2012 NFL Draft is slated for April 26-28 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  The first round will start on Thursday, April 26 at 8 p.m.  The second and third rounds are set for Friday, April 27 at 7 p.m.  Rounds four through seven will be held on Saturday, April 28 at Noon. It will be televised by ESPN and the NFL Network.

Soul to hold meet the team event

PHILADELPHIA  – The Philadelphia Soul will hold a “Meet the Team” event on Tuesday, February 28 from 6-8 p.m. at Aloft Philadelphia Airport hotel.  This event is open to the public and will be the first opportunity to meet the players and coaches.

“This event is an opportunity for the entire city of Philadelphia to welcome this year’s team,” said Soul COO/VP John Adams.  “The expectations and excitement for the season are high and we are glad that we are able to hold this event with a great partner like Aloft Philadelphia Airport to kick off the season.”

The Soul begin training camp on Friday, February 24 and have been re-built for a championship run in 2012.  Starting with the coaching staff: head coach, Doug Plank; assistant head coach/offensive coordinator, Clint Dolezel; assistant coach, Leroy Thompson; and assistant coach, Darrin Kenney, the Soul now have a coaching staff that has over 47 years of AFL experience, 10 ArenaBowl appearances and five ArenaBowl titles to its credit.

The 2012 roster has four 2011 First Team All-Arena players (Tiger Jones, Derrick Ross, Rayshaun Kizer and Michaeux Robinson), three 2011 Second Team All-Arena players (Donovan Morgan, Dusty Bear and Devin Clark), one 2011 All-Ironman performer (Jeff Hughley) and three 2010 First Team All-Arena players (Tanner Varner, Morgan and Kizer) for the 2012 season.

Union signs D Williams to extension

Chester, Pa.  – The Philadelphia Union have signed emerging defender Sheanon Williams to a new contract.

The 21-year old, who originally signed on August 31, 2010 from the Harrisburg City Islanders, has developed in to one f the top right backs in Major League Soccer.

"Sheanon has become an important member of our club and we're very pleased to reward him with a new contract that better reflects his value," said team manger Peter Nowak. "He took full advantage of his opportunity with us after coming over from Harrisburg in 2010 and he continued to improve last season. Keeping Sheanon in Philadelphia is an important investment in our defense, both for the present and future."

Since taking over as Philadelphia's starting right back on September 11, 2010, Williams has started all 40 games in which he has appeared, scoring a goal and adding three assists.

Williams helped transform a defense that conceded 1.63 goals per game in 2010 into one of the league's top units in 2011, allowing only 1.06 goals per game, tied for second best in MLS. Opposing teams averaged 3.05 shots on goal per game in 2011, the best mark in MLS history, en route to 10 shutouts.

"The past 18 months has been an amazing experience and I'm very excited to remain in Philadelphia," said Williams. "I would like to thank the organization for their confidence in me and the fans for their incredible support. We made a lot of progress last season but have a lot more work to do to achieve our goals in 2012 and beyond."

Following the 2011 campaign, Williams was called up on three occasions to train with the U-23 U.S. Men's National Team in preparation for Olympic qualifying.

Prior to joining the Union, Williams played the entire 2010 season with the City Islanders in the USL second division, scoring three goals in 19 matches. He played 1,402 total minutes of league action for the Islanders in 2010 in addition to U.S. Open Cup matches. Williams was named the "Upper 90" City Islanders Rookie of the Year.

Williams played the 2009 Premier Development League season with the Carolina Dynamo, earning All-Eastern Conference honors after scoring six goals and accumulating 16 points in 12 games. He left the University of North Carolina after only one season (2008) to pursue a professional career in Europe, landing tryouts with VfL Wolfsburg (Germany) and FC Twente (Netherlands). Despite performing well on trial overseas, Williams returned to the United States in 2009.

After training with Real Salt Lake towards the end of 2009 and early 2010, Williams made his debut with the City Islanders and scored his first professional goal on April 17, 2010.

A product of the U.S. Under-17 National Team Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., Williams has played in two youth World Cups for the United States: the U-17 World Cup in Korea (2007) and the U-20 World Cup in Egypt (2009). He was a 2007 PARADE High School All-American and earned NSCAA/adidas Youth All-American honors in 2006 and 2007.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jagr gets milestone OT winner, Flyers escape Jets

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

If Queen Elizabeth II had been looking down from the rafters of the MTS Centre as she had for so many years at the Winnipeg Arena, Her Majesty surely would have approved of such a heart-stopping matchup.

Jaromir Jagr's tally with 43.6 seconds left in overtime -- his NHL record 16th career marker beyond regulation -- spoiled a 50-save performance by Ondrej Pavelec and sent Philadelphia past Winnipeg by a 5-4 count on Tuesday.

Wayne Simmonds, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux all posted a goal and one assist for the Flyers, who avoided a season sweep and won their second game in three thanks to a season-high in shots on net.

In fact, the onslaught matched the club record for most shots in one road game, after a 55-shot effort in a 4-3 OT win at Boston on March 1, 2007.

"We have four lines and they can all score goals. You have to make the other team tired because every line has a chance to score," Jagr said of the Orange and Black, who have tallied an NHL-best 198 times this season, three better than Vancouver. "We switched a lot on the fly because of injuries, but we can go back to the way it was now. It doesn't matter how many they score against us because we know we can score a lot."

Ilya Bryzgalov was solid enough, making 22 saves for his second victory in three starts. He seemed unrattled by the enemy fan base chanting his name throughout.

It was a fine opening salvo for a four-game road swing that continues on Thursday in Edmonton, something which head coach Peter Laviolette praised:

"I’m really proud that the guys kept coming and pumping,” he said. “It was one of those gutsy efforts that you look back on and that might have been one of our best, toughest, wins of the year. You know, we kept fighting and kept pushing to get those two points.”

Andrew Ladd netted a pair of goals and Tim Stapleton added three helpers for the Jets, whose three game win streak came to an end.

Pavelec tied a career-high for saves in defeat. He also stopped 50 in a 3-1 win at Ottawa on October 31, 2009.

The 24-year-old Czech, born in the same town (Kladno) as Jagr, preserved a one-goal margin with the save of the year -- coming across his crease and diving to make a glove stop on Jakub Voracek inside of eight minutes to play on a Philadelphia advantage. He also did the splits to record a sprawling stop on Simmonds seconds later at the opposite post.

Bryzgalov was pulled for an extra skater with just over a minute remaining, and after almost an entire shift worth of patience in the neutral zone, James van Riemsdyk decided to take matters into his own hands. He flew up the left-wing side, cut to the net and his centering feed found its way to Simmonds for a successful redirect in front 9.7 seconds to play.

On the winner, Danny Briere emerged from a battle behind the net with the puck and wheeled around for a dish into the slot. Jagr did the rest, beating a Jets defenseman and his countryman to the left post.

"Yes, I'm disappointed. I'm happy we got the point. Pavelec was by far the best player on the ice," said Jets head coach Claude Noel. "We might not have gotten a point if not for him. Did we deserve to get two? You can be the judge of that."

It looked like another long night in Manitoba's capital for the visitors, when Dustin Byfuglien slipped a right-point blast between Bryzgalov's pads on a power play with 7:29 left in the first period.

Giroux evened the score a little over three minutes later on a high backhander from the left side, then Hartnell put the Flyers up 2-1 on the advantage with 1:09 played in the second.

Ladd drew the hosts even during another power play on a shot in close at the 7:52 mark, then gave the Jets a one-goal edge just over a minute later on a backhander from just outside the crease.

Max Talbot then followed up a blocked Andrej Meszaros' point drive and beat Pavelec for a 3-3 game at 11:14.

Brayden Schenn even got in on the crease action early in the final period, as he made twin stops seconds apart on Bryan Little and Ladd with Bryzgalov out of position.

That didn't change fortune much when Winnipeg added its third power-play score of the contest to take a 4-3 lead at 4:57 of the third. Bryzgalov looked foolish when he stabbed at Evander Kane's floater from below the right circle with his glove and missed.

Notes: Philly improved to 12-15-2 when giving up the game's first goal...Pavelec's previous season-high in saves was 39, accomplished on November 8 at Buffalo and December 6 against Boston and Hartnell's tally was his league-best 14th on the power play, one better than Pittsburgh's James Neal...Ladd has scored three times in the last two games following a 13-game goal drought...The last time a team based in Winnipeg swept the Flyers was 1984-85, when the original Jets won all three of that season's matchups...Philadelphia hasn't lost consecutive games in Manitoba's capital since dropping four in a row from November of 1983 to December of 1985...Jagr had been tied with Mats Sundin, Patrik Elias and Sergei Fedorov for overtime heroics...Little added two assists in the setback...Tuesday's win marked the first time since 1984-85 that the Flyers unloaded 48-or-more shots on one club twice in one season, having done it against the Vancouver Canucks (58 shots in a 13-2 win on 10/18/84 and 50 in a 7-4 win on 12/28/84)...Philly registered 48 in a 9-8 home loss on October 27...Giroux recorded a career high 10 shots on goal...The clubs combined for 39 goals in the four-game season set.

Union agree to terms with 5 players

Chester, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union continued to fine tune the club's roster today, signing SuperDraft selections Greg Jordan and Raymon Gaddis, Supplemental picks Krystian Witkowski and Antoine Hoppenot and goalkeeper Chase Harrison. The quintet has been training with the club since the start of preseason. Per club and MLS policies, the terms of their deals will not be released.

Jordan, picked 32nd overall in the 2012 SuperDraft, was named to the NSCAA All-American Second Team in 2011 as a senior, as well as the All-Missouri Valley Conference Second Team as both a junior and senior. He helped Creighton secure 19 shutouts in 2011, adding three goals and three assists. In his four-year college career, Jordan scored seven goals and added eight assists. Jordan attended a U.S. U-17 national team camp in 2006.

Gaddis, selected 35th overall in the 2012 SuperDraft, played for Union PDL affiliate Reading United in 2010 and 2011. Considered one of the top right backs in the draft, Gaddis earned second team all-BIG EAST honors as a senior in 2011. He was a MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List member prior to the season after being named a third team All-American by TopDrawerSoccer in 2010. Gaddis registered six assists in 73 career games at West Virginia University.

Harrison returns to the Union after intially signing with the club in September of 2011. Formerly a member of the Harrisburg City Islanders, Harrison led the Islanders to the 2011 USL-Pro final but the team lost in a penalty shootout to the Orlando City Lions. During his second season with the club, the goalkeeper registered a total of five shutouts in goal, posting a 1.3 GAA and 8-6-6 record. As a City Islander in 2009, Harrison earned eight shutouts, finishing with an 8-4-4 record and a 0.81 GAA, the best mark in the league.

Witkowski, a midfielder out of Marist College, was the 26th overall pick in the 2012 Supplemental Draft. He collected three consecutive All-MAAC First Team awards and in 2011 was named to the All-North Atlantic Region second team. In 71 collegiate games, Witkowski registered 21 goals and 12 assists, including nine goals and six assists as a junior. Prior to playing for Marist, Witkowski featured for the U-18 Polish national team.

Hoppenot, taken 39th overall in the Supplemental Draft, was a three time First-Team All-Ivy selection and was ranked 20th on the Top Drawer Soccer Men's National Top 100 list as a senior. In 2010, he was named Ivy League Player of the Year and was a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy, as well as garnered Second-Team All-American honors. Born in Paris, France and raised in Princeton, N.J., Hoppenot tallied 26 goals and 15 assists in his college career. Last week, Hoppenot scored two second-half goals in a 5-0 preseason win against the University of Central Florida.

Eagles restructure deal to keep DT Jenkins

The Philadelphia Eagles today announced that they have agreed to terms with DT Cullen Jenkins on a restructured contract.

In his first season in Philadelphia in 2011, Jenkins posted 5.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss, and 61 total tackles. He registered four sacks over his first three games as an Eagle, becoming just the second defensive tackle in team history to open a season with one sack in each of the first three contests (Jerome Brown, 1991).
“We are very excited about having Cullen back on our football team,” said general manager Howie Roseman. “Cullen made an immediate impact for us this year on and off the field. We look forward to a great future together with him an Eagles uniform.”

A ninth-year pro out of Central Michigan, Jenkins spent the previous seven seasons with Green Bay where he accumulated 29 sacks at both defensive tackle and defensive end. The Detroit, MI native helped guide the Packers to a Super Bowl championship in 2010 with a career-high seven sacks. Since he broke into the league in 2004, Jenkins ranks fifth among all undrafted players with 34.5 sacks, and also ranks fourth among defensive tackles with 12.5 sacks since 2010

Temple adds 2 to football coaching staff

PHILADELPHIA – Temple University head football coach Steve Addazio announced the additions of Ryan Day and Kevin Rogers to his staff on Monday along with several staff responsibility changes.

Day and Matt Rhule will serve as co-offensive coordinators with Day to coach the wide receivers and Rhule to continue to coach the tight ends. Rogers, a former quarterbacks coach with the Minnesota Vikings, has been named the associate head coach and quarterbacks coach.

Tyree Foreman will take on the added responsibility as the recruiting coordinator along with the running backs position.

Sean McGowan will increase his duties as the special teams coordinator along with the inside linebackers position. 

The Owls begin spring practice on March 12 in preparation for their sixth season of Mid-American Conference play in 2012. The squad’s annual Cherry & White spring game is slated for Saturday, April 14.  Temple (9-4, 5-3 MAC in 2011) returns 38 letterwinners, including nine starters, for the 2012 season.

Soul adds All-Arena G Devin Clark

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Soul have signed offensive lineman Devin Clark for the 2012 season. 

The former Arizona Rattler becomes the ninth former All-League player – joining Dusty Bear, Jeff Hughley, Tiger Jones, Rayshaun Kizer, Donovan Morgan, Micheaux Robinson, Derrick Ross and Tanner Varner – to sign with the Soul for 2012.

“With players reporting to training camp on Feb. 23, Devin is the final piece to our training camp roster,” said Soul general manager Tom Goodhines.  “We are excited about the team – players and coaches – that we have assembled for 2012.”

“Devin is an extremely talented offensive lineman,” added Soul head coach, Doug Plank.  “We are impressed with his playing ability and leadership in the locker room.  He has the size, strength, and lockdown abilities that will prove to be a huge asset to our team.  This is a great addition to our offensive line.”

Before signing with the Rattlers in 2010, Devin played in the NFL with the Washington Redskins in 2008.  He played in two games, one against division rival Philadelphia Eagles and one against the Cincinnati Bengals.  Before being activated, Devin played on the practice squad.  He was originally an undrafted free-agent by the Redskins.

He spent two seasons with the Arizona Rattlers (2010-11) and earned Second Team All-Arena honors, while helping lead the squad to an ArenaBowl appearance in 2011.

Before going pro, Devin spent two years at New Mexico (2006-07).  While with the Lobos, Clark played in the New Mexico Bowl twice and was named first-team All-Mountain West Conference in his senior year (2007).  In high school, he was named to the all-state team as both a junior and a senior.  He also participated in the Junior National Olympic Weight Lifting competition.

The team also announced the assignment of center, Brennen Carvalho late last week. He will be entering his third season in the AFL, spending the past two seasons playing for Arizona.

In his time with the Rattlers, Carvalho anchored the offensive line that made it to the ArenaBowl last season and accounted for one 21-yard reception and one rushing touchdown during his two-year stint (2010-11) in Arizona.

"Brennen will help solidify our offensive line immediately,” said Soul head coach Doug Plank.  “One of the most important positions on the team is center and we believe that Brennen will be a key piece to our pass protection and our overall success on offense.”

Carvalho also spent time in the National Football League before joining the AFL.  He was signed by the Green Bay Packers as a rookie free agent and spent the season on the team’s practice squad (2008).

Before starting his pro career Carvalho was a standout player at Portland State (2004-07).  He started in 39 consecutive games, the most of any player in the 2007 senior class, and was named to the First-Team All-Big Sky three years in a row (2005-07).  During his senior season, Carvalho also received the Division I FCS Remington Award, which is given to the nation’s best center.

Carvalho was born in Kapa’a, Hawaii.  He attended Kamehameha High School where he lettered three times and was First Team All-League as a junior and senior and First Team All-State as a senior as well.

Temple's Fernandez named Big 5 Player of the Week

PHILADELPHIA – Temple University senior guard Juan Fernandez was named the Philadelphia Big 5 Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week ending Sunday, February 13.  It is second time he has earned Big 5 Player of the Week, the last coming on Dec. 14, 2010.

The 6-4 Rio Tercero, Argentina native averaged 18 points, five assists, and three steals in two Temple wins. On February 15, he scored 16 points and made a career-high four steals in a 76-70 win at St. Bonaventure.  He followed that up with a 20-point, six-assist outing in a 78-59 win over Duquesne Saturday.  In that game, he shot seven-for-11 from the field, and a sizzling shooting six-for-seven from three-point range. Also in the win over the Dukes, he became the seventh Owl to dish 400 career assists.  He now has 403 for his career.

On the season, Fernandez leads Temple with 101 assists (3.9 apg.) and ranks third on the team in scoring with an 11.5 average.

The #22/22 Owls (21-5, 10-2) play two road A10/Big 5 games this week, travelling up Broad Street to take on La Salle Wednesday (7:00 p.m./1210 AM WPHT) and then to Saint Joseph’s for a nationally-televised game against the Hawks (7:00 p.m./ESPNU/1210 AM WPHT).  It marks Temple’s first time at Hagan Arena since Feb. 13, 2001, a 72-61 St. Joe’s win.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Holmgren speaks

Sunday is a day for most of the organization and its fans to share a little face time and contribute to a good cause for the 35th Flyers' Wives Fight for Lives Carnival down on South Broad Street.

But Flyers GM Paul Holmgren took time to address the madness of the past 24 hours, as well as the club's position heading into the trade deadline which is eight days away.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

On a day of surprises, at the end Flyers land Kubina

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

The plot thickens on this eve before Hockey Day in America, as the Philadelphia Flyers made official the acquisition of defenseman Pavel Kubina from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a pair of picks.

Leaving town will be minor-league forward Jon Kalinski along with a conditional second-round draft pick acquired when the club shipped Kris Versteeg to Florida, and a fourth-round selection in 2013.

The deal as originally constituted -- with just the draft picks -- would have sent the Flyers above the mandated contract limit of 50 players, but word from sources throughout the evening was that Kalinski did not leave with Adirondack following its 3-2 loss in Bridgeport, CT. Kalinski will now report to the Bolts' AHL affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.

Kubina is a hulking presence at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds. The 34-year-old Czech posted three goals, 11 points and 59 penalty minutes with a plus-1 rating in 52 games for Tampa. For his career, the former seventh-round pick in the 1996 draft has accumulated 110 goals, 382 points and 1,108 penalty minutes with the Lightning (1997-06, 10-12), Maple Leafs (06-09) and Thrashers (2009-10).

Kalinski, a 24-year-old Alberta native last appeared in the NHL two seasons ago, when he picked up a pair of assists in 10 games. He totaled one goal and five points in 22 contests with Philadelphia. The Minnesota-Mankato product recorded nine goals and 12 points over 40 appearances in the AHL this year.

Pens pull rug out from under Flyers with third-period burst

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Matt Cooke tallied twice and added one assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins used some penalty-killing acumen to stay afloat, and a quick burst early in the third period to break a tie and surge to a 6-4 victory over Philadelphia.

"Our penalty-killing was huge,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “To come out of special teams a plus-1 with a couple shorthanded goals was a big part. And this was definitely (Cooke's) best game) this year. Physical-wise, skating-wise, with the puck, defensively and 5-on-5. He was solid on the wall play."

Named first star, the thorn in everyone's side managed to slip a little history into his performance, netting the first two-man disadvantage goal against the Orange and Black in nearly 20 years.

Jordan Staal picked up a goal and one helper, while Pascal Dupuis, Dustin Jeffrey and James Neal also lit the lamp for the Pens, who have won eight of their last 10 games in Philly over the last three-plus years.

Marc-Andre Fleury was as solid as he needed to be down the stretch, snagging the win thanks to a 27-save performance.

Jaromir Jagr tallied twice in an 18-second span in the first period, Eric Wellwood netted his first NHL goal and Wayne Simmonds added a late, meaningless tally for the Flyers, who fell to 4-10-1 in afternoon starts this season.

Ilya Bryzgalov was pulled after Cooke's goal, charged with three goals on just 13 shots in almost 37 minutes of action. Sergei Bobrovsky didn't fare much better, also giving up three scores, but making 17 stops for the remainder of regulation.

Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center was supposed to be about a reversal of fortune; about forgetting the Flyers' horrible record in matinee starts, about forgetting goaltending issues, about a lineup which was as healthy as it's been in weeks; and about competing with division foes with more on the line as the regular season wound down.

Instead, each and every problem reared its ugly head in domino-like fashion in a jaw-dropping third period.

"Once it got to be 5-3 we lost all our steam it seemed to me," admitted Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. "I wasn't happy with that first shift. We turned the puck over when we had a chance to slow the pace of the game down. They kept that cycle going and it just wasn't a good start to the third."

It began at the 37-second mark as Jeffrey's slam-dunk from the crease gave the visitors the lead for good. The sequence was aided by the fact that Bobrovsky failed to control the initial shot, and turned into a Marx Brothers routine when usually-reliable Kimmo Timonen's clearing attempt came right back towards the goal. There were only two white jerseys in the vicinity and one slapped the puck home.

Dupuis then picked up an insurance score with 2:09 played when his prayer from the goal line to Bobrovsky's right deflected off the inside of his padding and dropped home for a 5-3 contest.

The coup-de-grace helped double the Pens' edge at the 9:02 mark.

Marc-Andre Bourdon, who has continually showed his rookie stripes, failed in his pinch attempt inside his own zone and the puck found Evgeni Malkin, who shuttled ahead to Chris Kunitz. Kunitz led Neal, who was streaking down the right-wing side. The first shot from distance was kicked out, but the former Dallas Star followed up and managed to flip a one-handed offering just inside the right post.

The testy affair calmed down for good, with the only real tomfoolery happening with 2:03 left as both Joe Vitale of Pittsburgh and Scott Hartnell were given the gate with 10-minute misconducts.

Simmonds provided the final margin on a nifty backhander inside the final 20 seconds.

It wasn't such a somber start in the final contest before the annual Carnival, as the Flyers came out with unusual verve.

But Public Enemy No. 1 opened the scoring on a wrister from the left wing just 3:17 in. Cooke gained possession thanks to a miscommunication between partners Andrej Meszaros and new addition Nick Grossman, flew up the left wing and scored from the circle.

Things heated up thanks to the former Penguin, who set the crowd alight with his short-range sniper abilities.

First, during a 4-on-4 with Craig Adams and Simmonds in the box, Jagr cradled the puck for a second, faked a pass and ripped a wrister over Fleury's glove at 15:16.

Then, after the Simmonds minor expired and Staal off for a hold, he was left alone in almost the same spot on the right side and scored on a similar shot roughly two strides above where he stood on the first tally. Thus, it was 2-1 for Philly with 4:26 showing.

The Penguins committed five minors in the second period to two for the Flyers, but that didn't seem to matter as Staal and Cooke tallied a man down in a span of roughly two minutes.

"It was very frustrating. I score those two goals, we're up 2-1, then we have a power play and they score both times on the same power play and changed the momentum," Jagr said. "It doesn't matter (if they were 'good' or not) when we have a power play we can't let them score. We have to be very careful. Maybe we were pushing too hard to try and score goals."

On the score which tied the game, 2-2, Claude Giroux made an inexplicable pass after winning the puck off the boards but it slid right to Adams, who found Staal on the left wing. Bryzgalov appeared to unnecessarily lean forward before the shot, and without the benefit of a screen, a wrister from between the circles rippled the back of the net at 15:14.

The ensuing Penguins' tally sent Bryzgalov to the bench, but it wasn't all the goaltender's fault. Despite room on a 5-on-3 power play, Giroux's dish back to Timonen at the left point got past the Finn. Cooke, charging at full speed, managed to overtake his checker, hang onto the puck once Timonen caught up, and flipped the puck inside the left post.

"It was a strange period with the types of situations we were in," Bylsma noted. "The second period was unique in a lot of ways. Penalty-wise and giving up one in the first, finding ourselves down so much."

But the karmic wheel managed to spin the Flyers' way before the end of the second as Pens rearguard Deryk Engelland peeled out and went down in the slot, allowing Wellwood to chip the loose puck home for the milestone goal with 1:19 on the clock.

Notes: Cooke's three points were a season high, and the most he's recorded in one regular-season game since March 3, 2008 with Washington in a 10-2 defeat of Boston...Prior to Saturday, the last player to record a 3-on-5 goal against the Flyers was Benoit Hogue, who did so into an empty net during a 4-2 Islanders' win at Uniondale on March 9, 1993...James van Riemsdyk returned to the lineup for the first time since January 12, recording an assist in 14:43 of ice time...Jagr has scored 39 goals in 39 games against the Penguins thanks to his fourth multi-goal effort this season...This marked the seventh time the Flyers have allowed five goals or more in an afternoon start this year...Grossman ended up a plus-one in 18:26 TOI.

Flyers lineup to look a little fuller on Saturday

Word out of the press box this morning is that James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere AND Andrej Meszaros will return to the lineup.

And the word is good...van Riemsdyk back in action for the first time since January 12 on Long Island. Briere on ice despite an upper-body issue (presumed to be a shoulder) suffered on Thursday, and the Gentle Giant of the D is back after a one-game absence. Also, Jaromir Jagr is apparently over his "birthday flu" and will be suiting up.

Starting goaltenders are Ilya Bryzgalov and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Villanova to be without two starters against Notre Dame

VILLANOVA, Pa. – The Villanova Wildcats are likely to be without two starters for Saturday night’s BIG EAST battle against red-hot Notre Dame at the Wells Fargo Center, head coach Jay Wright said today.

Junior Maalik Wayns, who suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee in a Feb. 7 win over Providence, did not play against USF on Wednesday night and is listed as doubtful for the game against the Fighting Irish (18-8 overall, 10-3 BIG EAST).

In addition, sophomore guard James Bell suffered a sprained left ankle in the second half of Wednesday night’s 65-51 loss at the University of South Florida Wright said that Bell will be sidelined Saturday night as well as on Monday, when the Wildcats host Connecticut at the Wells Fargo Center.

Neither player participated in this afternoon’s practice at the Pavilion.

“Obviously we would miss both of those guys but this is an opportunity for some of our younger guys to contribute and gain experience,” stated Wright.

No. 23/25 Notre Dame is the hottest team in the BIG EAST, winners of seven straight, including an upset over then No. 1 ranked Syracuse. The Fighting Irish have won four of six on the road as they head to Philadelphia for the only meeting between these schools this year.

“(Notre Dame head coach) Mike Brey has done a great job,” stated Wright. “They lost Tim Abromaitis for the whole season and yet have become one of the best teams in the BIG EAST. They are an intelligent, balanced team that shares the basketball and defends well.”

With Wayns’ availability in doubt, the point guard duties for the Wildcats again figure to fall on the shoulders of freshman Ty Johnson.

“Considering it was his first time in that situation of playing 38 minutes against a quality opponent on the road,” noted Wright, “I thought Ty did a good job. He made mistakes but it was a great learning experience for him.”

The game begins at 9:05 p.m. and will air nationally on ESPNU as well as ESPN 950 Radio locally.

The Sixth Man: James can't go home again - Miami Heat -

The Sixth Man: James can't go home again - Miami Heat -

Sixers' Turner on Team Chuck

TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, serving as general managers for the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, made their player selections Thursday night on NBA TV.  

With the first pick of the first-ever draft for the event, TEAM SHAQ selected Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers while TEAM CHUCK countered by tapping Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers with the second overall selection.  Each former All-Star then filled their rosters through the draft process.

In a Draft night surprise, TNT’s Kenny Smith, the Honorary Commissioner of the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, added Norris Cole of the Miami Heat and Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks to the player pool.

The 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge will be played Friday, Feb. 24, in Orlando during NBA All-Star 2012. While Barkley and O’Neal functioned as the general managers for the draft, Smith served as the honorary commissioner and Ernie Johnson performed the hosting role.

Joining Griffin, Lin and Cole on TEAM SHAQ are Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves), Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats), Landry Fields (New York Knicks), Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons).

Besides Irving, TEAM CHUCK is comprised of DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Derrick Williams (Minnesota Timberwolves), Paul George (Indiana Pacers), MarShon Brooks (New Jersey Nets), John Wall (Washington Wizards), Tiago Splitter (San Antonio Spurs), Evan Turner (Philadelphia 76ers), Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs).

This marks the first year in which rookies and sophomores have been mixed together on teams. Historically, the game featured NBA rookies facing off against sophomores. The participants in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge were selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches, with each team submitting one ballot.

TNT analysts Mike Fratello and Steve Kerr will be part of the coaching staffs for the teams, with Fratello joining TEAM CHUCK and Kerr joining TEAM SHAQ. The head coaches for both teams are the lead assistant coaches from the 2012 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs. The Chicago Bulls’ Ron Adams will lead TEAM SHAQ and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Maurice Cheeks will man the sidelines for TEAM CHUCK.

The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge will be televised live nationally on TNT at 9 p.m. ET and also will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio, while will make live audio available to fans in multiple languages.

Last year in Los Angeles, the Rookies won for the second consecutive year, 148-140. Wall earned MVP honors after recording a record 22 assists, five more than Chris Paul managed in 2007.

Below are the rosters for the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge:

                                                        Prior to NBA/
Player        Team        Pos.        Ht.                Wt.        Home Country        Exp
MarShon Brooks        New Jersey        G-F        6-5                200        Providence/USA        R
DeMarcus Cousins        Sacramento        C        6-11        270        Kentucky/USA        1
Paul George        Indiana        G-F        6-8                215        Fresno State/USA        1
Gordon Hayward        Utah        F        6-8                210        Butler/USA        1
Kyrie Irving        Cleveland        G        6-3                191        Duke/USA        R
Kawhi Leonard        San Antonio        G-F        6-7                225        San Diego State/USA        R
Tiago Splitter        San Antonio        F-C        6-11        240        Saski Baskonia/Brazil        1
Evan Turner        Philadelphia        G-F        6-7                205        Ohio State/USA        1
John Wall        Washington        G        6-4                195        Kentucky/USA        1
Derrick Williams        Minnesota        F        6-8                241        Arizona/USA        R

                                                        Prior to NBA/
Player        Team        Pos.        Ht.                Wt.        Home Country        Exp
Norris Cole        Miami        G        6-2                175        Cleveland St/USA        R                
Landry Fields        New York        G        6-7                210        Stanford/USA        1
Blake Griffin        L.A. Clippers        F        6-10        251        Oklahoma/USA        1
Brandon Knight        Detroit        G        6-3                189        Kentucky/USA        R
Jeremy Lin        New York        G        6-3                300        Harvard/USA        R        
Greg Monroe        Detroit        C        6-11        250        Georgetown/USA        1
Markieff Morris        Phoenix        F        6-10        245        Kansas/USA        R
Ricky Rubio        Minnesota        G        6-4                180        FC Barcelona/Spain        R
Tristan Thompson        Cleveland        F        6-9                227        Texas/USA        R
Kemba Walker        Charlotte        G        6-1                172        Connecticut/USA        R

Flyers acquire D Grossman from Dallas

The Flyers have acquired defenseman Nicklas Grossman from the Dallas Stars in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, previously acquired from Los Angeles, and a third-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, previously acquired from Minnesota.

The hulking blueliner, 27, has skated in 52 games for the Stars this season, during which time he has recorded five assists and 26 PIM along with an even plus-minus rating.  He has recorded an even 100 blocked shots so far this year, which led the Stars and ties his personal career high for an entire season.  He has also recorded 96 hits on the season.

Grossman has played in 333 NHL games for the Stars over parts of six seasons (2006-07 to 2011-12), scoring three goals and adding 38 assists for 41 points.  He was selected by Dallas in the second round (56th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Three Union players called up by U-23 U.S. Men’s National Team

CHICAGO – Freddy Adu, Jack McInerney and Amobi Okugo will again join the U-23 U.S. Men’s National Team as they train for CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, U.S. Soccer announced today.

The 10-day camp convenes February 19th and culminates with a match against Mexico’s U-23 National Team on Wednesday, February 29 at FC Dallas Stadium.  Kickoff is set for 9:00 p.m. CT and the match will be broadcast live on Univision.

In addition to the Mexico match, the U.S. U-23s will hold scrimmages against FC Dallas of Major League Soccer on Wed., Feb. 22, and the North American Soccer League’s new franchise, the San Antonio Scorpions, on Friday, Feb. 24.

The Union represent three of the 15 Major League Soccer players on the 24-man training camp roster. McInerney and Okugo make their fourth appearance with the U-23’s this offseason, while Adu is on his third tour with the squad.

This camp marks the fourth gathering of this group as the team prepares for the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in March.  The first camp was held at the Sportschule Wedau in Germany in early November, the second took place in Lakewood Ranch, Florida in December, while the most recent camp in January was split between Carson, Calif. and Costa Rica.

The U.S. U-23 MNT was drawn into Group A of the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and will face Canada, Cuba and El Salvador. The teams open group play from March 22-26 at LP Field in Nashville. The two finalists from the tournament qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Soul sign LB Bear

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Soul have announces the assignment of linebacker, James “Dusty” Bear  for the 2012 season.

Bear, who was a Second Team All-Arena selection last season with Dallas, will be entering his third season in the Arena Football League.

“The Soul got stronger today,” said Soul head coach Doug Plank.  “We targeted Dusty because he is versatile and one of the top defensive players in the league.  He is a playmaker that has the ability to play many different positions.  We’re excited to have him on our team this season.”

Bear is coming off of his best season after playing for the Dallas Vigilantes in 2011 under current Soul assistant head coach/offensive coordinator, Clint Dolezel.  He played in 16 games, recording a total of 43.0 tackles for the season.  He ranked No. 3 in the league in sacks (11.0) and No. 4 in tackles for loss (12.0).  He even scored a touchdown and two safeties for a total of 10 points.

Prior to signing with Dallas, Bear played in three games with the Alabama Vipers in 2010.  During just three games he was able to record seven tackles, seven assists, 1.5 sacks and two receptions for 10 yards. He had begun the 2010 season with the Tampa Bay Storm.  In five games with Tampa Bay, he recorded eight tackles, four assists, one sack and five rushing yards.

In 2009, before joining the AFL, Bear played for an af2 team, the Florida Firecats.  Here he recorded 26.5 total tackles, four tackles for loss, and two sacks.

Bear played college football at Western Kentucky University (2004-07).  In 2007, his senior season, he recorded 37.0 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, and two interceptions for 38 yards.

Ronda Rousey discusses early battles, judo and her thoughts on champion Miesha Tate

  Photo courtesy of Darin Harvey

“There's no way she can conceive the amount of pain, sacrifice, bravery, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles I've had to overcome to make it to this point.”

By ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey:

In just a few weeks I'm going to be fighting Miesha Tate for the Strikeforce women's 135lbs world championship title. It’s a match that she's resisted since the very beginning, but has snowballed into women’s MMA's most anticipated fight since Gina Carano and Cris Cyborg set ratings records for Showtime a few years ago. It began with me defeating Julia Budd this past November in an admittedly brutal fashion, followed by me asking for the first shot at Miesha since she won her belt from Marloes Coenen. Miesha immediately protested, and as a result we had a now infamous debate on Ariel Helwani's show ( She was obviously less prepared for the debate than I was, as I treated the debate like a fight in itself. I saw the potential and importance of this opportunity, and looked up every article I could find arguing her point of view. I then wrote a counter argument to every single point they made and took turns with my friends playing both myself and her in "practice arguments." By the time we were on the show she sounded uneducated and unprepared in comparison, conflicting herself and falling speechless on several occasions. Several months later while doing a round table press conference with her, Scott Coker, and myself, (part 1:   ---- and part 2: ) I swear I could hear an echo in the room as she completely abandoned most of her original stances o the subject and adopted mine. The only thing she hasn't conceded on was the fact that she doesn't think I'm a "worthy" opponent and don't deserve to fight her. If that is the case, I encourage her and her fans to put their money where their mouths are. Because at the moment I'm favored almost 4-1 in the Vegas odds, and I would like for my friends to actually make a decent profit for once off of one of my wins. Funny isn't it? That a challenger who isn't deserving of a title shot is so heavily favored over the champion….

Though she's argued that I'm less experienced than her, not able to deal with pressure, and likely to mentally break after the first minute… there's no way she can conceive the amount of pain, sacrifice, bravery, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles I've had to overcome to make it to this point.

I was literally born fighting. The umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck and my face was blue, everyone was scared that I died. Obviously I didn't, but there was some damage done. I was far behind my sisters and other children my age in speech, and could not speak coherently till I was around 6. No one ever told me there was anything wrong with me, my Mom and Dad refused to let me feel abnormal. I just remember being frustrated all the time, because I knew in my head what I wanted to say, but for some reason no one could ever understand me; my words came out as gibberish. My father most of all told everyone: "Ronnie is a sleeper. Just you watch, she's gonna show everyone and be the best of them one day." He would always tell me that I was destined for greatness. At the time I was swimming competitively and he would constantly tell me I was going to win the Olympics and be the best in the world someday.
Unfortunately my Dad died when I was 8 years old, and it was the most painful thing my family has ever been through…
Swimming was something me and my dad would do together, and after his death I quickly lost my motivation to swim. Though I never lost the need to honor him and fulfill every expectation he had of me.

Several years later we moved to Los Angeles, my mother remarried, and things got better. My mother was the first American to ever win the world championships in judo, something she never talked about much when I was a kid. But she used to train at Tenri Judo in East LA during her prime in the 80's, so when we moved back to LA she went to visit her old teammates who had then opened up clubs of their own.
I took to judo right away and it soon replaced swimming as my number one passion. Swimming was very one-dimensional in comparison. You could do the breaststroke one way and the butterfly one way, but, once you'd mastered those skills, there was little room for creativity. Judo, on the other hand, really encouraged creativity and individual flair. It allowed me to create my own style and personality and play around with the textbook. You could try things out, improvise a little and think outside the box. There were just so many different things to learn and pick up on, and that really excited me. I didn't feel I could necessarily learn how to become a better swimmer – you simply practice and practice until you hopefully one day became one. Judo was very much a learning process for me, though. It was something I could play with and make my own.

Mom was against me doing judo at first, she felt people would expect too much from me given who she was and what she had achieved in the same sport. It was actually her team-mates, who were my coaches at the time, who persuaded her to let me do it. In all honesty, I didn't feel any additional pressure because of the fact my mother was previously involved in the sport. If anything, I'm the one that puts pressure on myself when it comes to goal-setting. I don't feel right unless there is some element of pressure. Some people crack under it, but I've always thrived. Six years after starting out, I made my first Olympic team. Maybe it was genetics, destiny, or both, but I really had a knack for it.

The whole reason I focused on judo to begin with was so that I could one day reach the Olympic Games and win a gold medal. That was literally my sole aim from day one, and nothing else crossed my mind from that point. I wasn't interested in being involved in judo to become a mere also-ran. Even after my very first practice, I remember thinking to myself, 'Yep, this is definitely going to work out – I'm going to win the Olympics'. It was all or nothing for me, and that same attitude carried over after transitioning to MMA.

Some people like to call me cocky or arrogant, but I just think "How dare you assume I should think less of myself? The problem isn't me thinking I can achieve any goal I set for myself, the problem is you projecting your own self doubt onto me."

My current goals are to revive women's MMA and solidify its place in the sport. The first step to achieving that goal is to beat Miesha Tate in impressive fashion on March 3rd. And there isn't a goddamn thing that can stop me.

Follow Ronda on twitter @RondaRousey

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Jersey gets Wrestlemania 29

The State of New Jersey has lured WWE's annual Wrestlemania event to MetLife Stadium.

Gov. Chris Christie will make an announcement Thursday at the sports complex in East Rutherford.

State officials spent more than a year working with organizers to land the event, according to Past events have generated significant economic impact of $50 to $60 million dollars for the host city.

The Sixth Man: Pacers fail big test | NBA (AP) | Sports News and Videos on the Dallas Cowboys...

The Sixth Man: Pacers fail big test | NBA (AP) |

On Records and open minds

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

"If the Red Wings get to 20 regulation wins at the Joe during this streak, then and only then should their record not have an asterisk."

That was the Gospel according to Frank Seravalli of the Daily News through his Twitter account yesterday, after Detroit set an NHL record with its 21st consecutive home win, a 3-1 decision over the Dallas Stars.

Thank you, Frank, here's your parting gift. Love to have you back some time...

It's a shame that my two favorite sports -- hockey and baseball -- have seen such shifts in culture and in guidelines over the last few generations so that anyone with an opinion and a forum to release them sees fit not to merely discuss, but to pontificate, in some fashion.

What the Red Wings accomplished on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena should not have an asterisk beside it, because the club simply took advantage of the rules in place. They did not ask for special consideration, nor did they circumvent those rules or undertake illegal or immoral means (like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire did with PEDs) to make history.

The record should be celebrated as it stands, and the league will have to make a little room alongside the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers for the Red Wings.

It still galls me that baseball saw fit to debase his accomplishment and place an asterisk beside Roger Maris' record of 61 home runs for so many years, through no fault of his own, simply because the length of the regular season was extended from 154 to 162 games.

It was unfair and unbecoming of an institution that crowed so much about being a pursuit which outwardly promoted fairness, and to suggest a similar entity like the National Hockey League do the same for the Wings thanks to its own rule changes is ridiculous.

The asterisk is such a nasty little notifier, anyway. A lazy man's answer to something which threatens the order he's created inside his own mind.

While we can all debate the merits of the way the NHL hands out points like Halloween candy or the ridiculousness of having the shootout as an effective measure to decide games, there should be no equivocation here.

All records should be celebrated. Ones which occur in different time periods just have to be differentiated.

For instance: the Edmonton Oilers began the 1984-85 season unbeaten in 15 games thanks to 12 wins and three ties. That record stood until the league decided to wipe out the possibility of deadlocks. Then, the Anaheim Ducks began the 2006-07 season by winning 12 games and losing four beyond regulation.

One is not superior to the other. They are both valid, and the record books should reflect that each mark was set under different circumstances.

Comparison to each club and each record within its respective time frame should be encouraged, but dissecting one at the expense of another or slapping up a marker which inhibits discussion takes away from the spirit of debate -- and that's just un-American (or un-Canadian).

While everyone is entitled to their opinion, there's only one proper way to think. So, congratulations Detroit, may you will always stand with the greats.

Eagles decide against raising ticket prices

The Eagles have announced they will not be raising ticket prices for the 2012 season.

“We appreciate our great fans and our loyal season ticket holders,” said Eagles president Joe Banner. “We understand that this is a difficult economy, and we’re grateful that fans still turned out this season in sell-out numbers to support the Eagles. Holding the line on pricing for another year was one way we could thank Philadelphia fans for their continued support. We are looking forward to another exciting season of Eagles football at Lincoln Financial Field in 2012.”

The team’s season ticket prices have not increased since prior to the 2009 campaign, a span of four seasons. Eagles season ticket holders will be sent their invoices for the 2012 season this week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Soul add Kenney as assistant caoch

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Soul have named Arena Football League coaching veteran Darrin Kenney an assistant coach.

Kenney will work primarily with Leroy Thompson in helping the offensive and defensive line for the 2012 season.

The Lycoming (Pa.) College alum enters his sixth year of coaching in the AFL and first with the Soul.  The former 11-year AFL veteran lineman coached in 2010 with the Alabama Vipers and spent the 2008 season with the Grand Rapids Rampage.  Previously, Kenney spent three seasons (2005-07) with the Nashville Kats.

“Darrin is a seasoned veteran who is a proven difference maker where ever he has been,” said Soul head coach Doug Plank.  “He has tutored some of the all-time greats of our game.  Coach Kenney was a fierce competitor as a player and brings out the best in the players he has coached over the years.”

“Adding Darrin solidifies our status as having the best coaching staff in the Arena Football League,” added Soul general manager Tom Goodhines.  “We continue to add quality to our team with every transaction.  Between Doug Plank, Clint Dolezel, Leroy Thompson and Darrin, we now have a coaching staff that has over 47 years of AFL experience, 10 ArenaBowl appearances and five ArenaBowl titles to its credit.”

While with Nashville, Kenney helped develop the team’s reputation as one of the stingiest defenses in the AFL.  In 2007, Nashville ranked No. 3 by allowing 277.9 yards per game, having ranked No. 1 in the league in the same category in 2006 (263.9).  The Kats also led the League in sacks in back-to-back seasons (2005-06) under Kenney’s direction.  On the offensive side, fullback Dan Alexander demolished the single-season AFL rushing touchdown record by following Kenney’s line into the end zone 41 times.

During his playing days, Kenney played for the Tampa Bay Storm (1993), Albany Firebirds (1994-95), Arizona Rattlers (1997-2000) and the San Jose SaberCats (2001-03). He played on three ArenaBowl championship teams (1993, ’97 and 2002) – in addition, every team he played with made it to at least the semifinal round of the playoffs.

Kenney was known as an excellent pass blocker and registered 58 solo and 21 assisted tackles, while tallying 7.0 sacks and 14 pass breakups on defense.  While in college, Kenney earned Middle Atlantic Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year honors in both his junior and senior seasons (1990-91) and an All-America selection his senior season.  Following his playing days, Kenney served as color analyst for radio broadcasts for the Soul in 2004.

BC captures 60th annual Beanpot with OT thriller over BU

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

The only way the 60th annual Beanpot final on Monday night at TD Garden could have been any better would have been if the game were decided after multiple overtimes.

It very nearly happened.

Boston University was seconds away from escaping to the locker room to regroup, until Bill Arnold's tally with 6.4 seconds remaining in OT sent Boston College to a 3-2 victory against their Commonwealth Avenue neighbors and staked yet another claim to bragging rights over their perennial rivals.

Arnold, a 19-year-old sophomore, accepted a Steven Whitney pass and ripped a shot high over the glove of Kieran Millan from just below the right circle for the winner, touching off a wild celebration.

"I'm in the clouds right now," Arnold said of his title-clinching goal. "You dream about this as a kid and you never really expect it to happen, so this is unbelievable."

Pat Mullane and Chris Kreider each lit the lamp for the Eagles(19-10-1), who took home their third straight crown for the first time since winning three years in a row from 1963-65. Jerry York's squad also picked up its second title-game victory over Jack Parker's charges in the last three years.

It was also a measure of vindication for the two-time defending Hockey East champs, who faltered in two home contests against BU at Conte Forum earlier this season and dropped two of three in the season series.

"BU played an outstanding hockey game," the gracious York said following the contest. "I thought we came right back with the same attitude to our team, so that was college hockey at its finest. We're both ranked in the top five in the country, so we kind of expect that. And then with the rivalry between the two schools, it had all the makings of a classic college hockey game and it unfolded just like that."

Freshman Johnny Gaudreau -- a South Jersey native who scored twice against Northeastern in the semifinals and picked up an assist on Monday -- was voted the tournament's most outstanding player.

Parker Milner stopped 32-of-34 shots as BC claimed its 17th title in school history.

Garrett Noonan potted both scores for the Terriers (17-10-1), who haven't endured a three-year Beanpot drought since 1983-85. Millan was the hard-luck loser despite making 44 saves, but still took home the Eberly Award as the top goaltender.

Mullane put the Eagles up just shy of the nine-minute mark of the first period, beating Millan from the left wing while shorthanded.

Boston University endured a lengthy two-man disadvantage with no damage, then were forced to survive another BC power play before finally hitting the scoreboard on a power play of its own when Noonan rifled home a shot from the left circle with 4:49 remaining in the second.

BC was awarded a two-man edge for 23 seconds late in the stanza, and Kreider beat Millan with a high wrister from between the circles with 1:18 to go.

BU then enjoyed a two-man advantage for 1:47 early in the third period, and Noonan tallied off a redirection of an Alex Chiasson offering from the left side for a 2-2 game at 7:12. The Terriers failed to click on the 5-on-4.

Millan kept his team in the game with multiple key stops, none more than a sprawling glove stop against BC defenseman Brian Dumoulin in the extra session.

In the consolation game earlier on Monday, Luke Greiner notched the winner late in the third period as Harvard topped Northeastern, 3-2.

Alex Killorn and Alex Fallstrom also tallied and Tommy O'Regan added two assists for the Crimson, who fell by a 3-1 count to Boston University in last week's semifinal and haven't emerged victorious in this gathering since 1993.

Steve Michalek stopped 24-of-26 shots for the win as Harvard claimed third place for the second straight season.

Luke Eibler and Robbie Vrolyk scored for the Huskies, who dropped a 7-1 decision to Boston College in the other semi. Clay Witt played well in defeat, making 33 saves.

Northeastern finished fourth for the first time since 2008 and hasn't celebrated a Beanpot win since taking the final of its four triumphs back in 1988.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Laviolette conference call 2/13/12

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers

Peter Laviolette – Monday Feb, 13 conference call

Q: What do you think is the biggest problem with the power play and PK

PL: “I think there’s always different things. It’s not necessarily one thing. There are things we can do better in the neutral zone, as far as PK goes and end zone. Like I’ve said before we have a lot of new faces and different pieces in place here and we will continue to look at. We have a good opportunity to do some teaching over the next couple days and get ourselves back ready. Our penalty kill has been decent all year. I think Craig does a good job of teaching it and the players have done a pretty good job. But obviously, it has been a little bit of a stumbling block this weekend. But I have a lot of confidence that we’ll get it back on track. I would say the same thing holds true for the power play. We got lots of looks and opportunities but didn’t get it to go.”

Q: During the broadcast last night Mike Milbury said ‘it would be nice if Bobrovsky would make a big save once in a while’. Are you satisfied with the way Bobrovksy is playing?

PL: “Without commenting on Mike’s quotes because I didn’t hear him and I hate going off on not hearing exactly what was said. With regard to Bob, he did make some big saves. You go back to the Ranger game and he made some huge saves for us. I think certainly as a group and as individuals, and everybody, I said this before, everybody gets included in this, all of us, we can be better at what we are doing. We aren’t happy with the way the weekend went.

We can play better in front of Bob and I think there are things that he can do better. We will work on it. It is a long year and through the course of a year you go through ups and downs. When it doesn’t go your way over a weekend you get back to work. You look at it, you work at things on the ice you work at things through watching video. You just go back at it. We have another game coming up and we have to be ready to play. Certainly we are disappointed over the weekend. We played a couple of big teams and we didn’t get the results we were looking for. We’ll go back.”

Q: Were you OK with what Kimmo said after the Rangers game on calling the team out a little bit?

PL: “You guys would have a better view of that. I wasn’t there. I trust Kimmo’s judgment. When you areplaying a team that you haven’t beaten and you are vying for 1st overall in the conference and trying to work your way up, and that was a game that would help propel you, there is frustration that sets in. Kimmo has been around and he is an experienced player. I have no problem with him putting his voice out there. He’s one of the leaders on this team. I didn’t hear him, I wasn’t in on it. But catching the gist of what you guys said, I have no problem with that. I said the same thing. We can be better. We are making mistakes and mistakes are costing us. We need to clean it up.”

Q: In Pronger’s absence, will there be any thought of giving the captaincy to somebody else?

PL: “It has not come up. Right now Chris Pronger is the captain of the team.. He’s injured. We have experienced leadership in the room with Kimmo and Danny, Scott Hartnell, Claude, Jaromir, we have lots of leadership in the room. We are coming off a weekend where it didn’t go our way. Lots of conversations could come and have come up. I have a lot of confidence in the leadership in the room.”

Q: How concerned are you with Danny and Jaromir. They seem to be struggling. I’m not sure if it is coincidence or not but they both seem to have struggled after coming back from injuries? Do you think they are 100%?

PL: “The 100% thing, I’m not sure. Most of the time players are not at 100%. There is usually something that is bugging them or bothering them and there is an ice bag or heat pack on them somewhere. We are coming off a tough weekend and we can be better as a team. We have a couple of days of trying to improve and we will work at this.”

Q: I know you are never happy after a loss. But do you think the team played better vs Detroit than the previous game. Did you sense an improvement?

PL: “I told you after the Ranger game, they scored three power play goals in the first two periods. What I had a hard time with in the Rangers game was the third period. We didn’t generate anything. We gave up too much. Once they scored that goal early on we really faded and that was disappointing for me. I thought we came back and responded, played hard, but there were mistakes and we will continue to work on those things. That’s what we are here to do. We are here to teach and to become better. There’s a lot of that going on this year. We’re working to get better on what we are doing on the ice. If you are asking me if it was a lack of effort in Detroit, and that is why we didn’t win the game, no. I think we made some mistakes and we need to work to clean up those mistakes.”

Q: Bryzgalov was the back-up last night. Is he getting closer to starting?

PL: “With regard to players and their injuries, you can take that up with Paul Holmgren.”

Q: Wayne Simmonds continues to be impressive. Does he continue to impress you?

PL: “What’s really impressed me is his ability to hang on to the puck and make plays along with his physical presence. He’s in a real good run right now and playing with a lot of confidence which is nice. I would like to continue to see him go down that road. But to me his confidence is really high with the puck right now and good things are happening now when he’s on the ice.”