Friday, November 30, 2012

Extra Points: Nothing is a Brees without your head coach |

Extra Points: Nothing is a Brees without your head coach |

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mediation no help as lockout continues

The National  Hockey League  and the  NHL Players'  Association  met  with  federal  mediators for  a second day  on Thursday  in  an  attempt  to  spur negotiations  towards  a  new  Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the news was far from promising.

Unlike Wednesday's meeting, cover was totally blown on the location, revealed by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun to be Woodbridge, New Jersey -- known for its office park at the intersection of the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike.

"Today, we concluded two days of mediation with FMCS (Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service) mediators and representatives of the NHL Players' Association. After spending several hours with both sides over two days, the presiding mediators concluded that the parties remained far apart, and that no progress toward a resolution could be made through further mediation at this point in time," said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. "We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful."

Multiple additional reports, primarily from John Shannon of Canada's Sportsnet and Katie Strang from ESPN, surfaced following the league-issued statement that commissioner Gary Bettman offered the players the chance to meet owners face-to-face, without any representatives from either side involved. Nonetheless, the union remained neutral when issuing its own statement.

"Today, players and NHLPA staff, along with representatives of the league, concluded a second day of mediation under the auspices of the FMCS. This afternoon, the mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further today," said NHLPA executive director Don Fehr. "The mediators indicated that they would stay in contact with the league and the NHLPA, and would call the parties back together when they thought the time was right."

Mediation  by a  third party  was  also sought  out twice  during the  2004-05 lockout;  once as a  last-ditch effort to save the season in February of 2005, and  once more during the following summer, with no positive outcome. The hope was that an objective party could help get the negotiating process on track.

A stray report from a Montreal Canadiens blogger also revealed that one of the mediators grew exasperated at the lack of movement from either side, saying "I can't help people who don't want to be helped."

It has been widely speculated that the players' next move will be to decertify the union, a move last seen in professional sports by the NFLPA during the league's lockout last Spring.

The  current  work stoppage, which  began on Sept.  16, has already caused the cancellation  of  422 regular-season games  as well  as the Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chooch suspended by MLB

Carlos Ruiz's career year in 2012 can now officially come under suspicion.

Major League Baseball suspended the Phils catcher for 25 games on Tuesday after he tested positive for amphetamines, reportedly the drug Adderall.

Here's the official release: "The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz has received a 25-game suspension without pay after testing positive for an Amphetamine in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspension of Ruiz is effective at the start of the 2013 regular season.  He will be eligible to participate in Spring Training, including in Spring Training games."

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. added his own statement: ”The Phillies fully support Major League Baseball’s Drug Program. We are disappointed by the news of this violation of the program.  We will support Carlos in an appropriate manner and move forward to achieve our goal to play championship-caliber baseball in 2013.”

The 33-year-old Panamanian backstop enjoyed a career year for an injury-plagued Phillies club, hitting .325 with 16 home runs, 32 doubles and 68 RBI over 114 games and earning his first career All-Star selection.
Ruiz did miss time with an oblique strain and was also on the sidelines due to plantar fasciitis, which landed him on the disabled list and caused him to miss most of August and part of September.

Ruiz also issued a statement, in both English and Spanish. The English version reads: "I am sincerely regretful for my mistake in taking a prohibited stimulant. I apologize to my teammates, the Phillies organization, and the Philadelphia fans. I will serve the imposed 25-game suspension to begin the season and I look forward to returning to the field and working toward bringing a championship back to Philadelphia in 2013." 

The Phillies are slated to begin their 2013 schedule on April 1 at Atlanta.

Bye Bye Babin; D-Jax on IR with broken ribs

In a move that only came as a "shock" to those who were unable to ferret out the news before it was announced, the Philadelphia Eagles released defensive end Jason Babin on Tuesday afternoon.

Babin signed with the Eagles as a free agent in 2011 and racked up 18 sacks over 16 games to earn his second straight trip to the Pro Bowl.

The 32-year-old followed that effort with a team-high 5 1/2 sacks through 11 games this season, but the Eagles, who fell to 3-8 after Monday's loss to Carolina, decided to part ways with the defensive end.

"We appreciate everything that Jason has given this team over the last couple of years," Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said. "We wish him all the best as he continues his career. By releasing him today, this gives us an opportunity to give more playing time to some of younger guys in the defensive line rotation."

The Western Michigan product was selected 27th overall in the 2004 draft by the Houston Texans and has compiled 53 1/2 sacks and nine forced fumbles in 109 games, including 69 starts, over nine seasons with the Texans, Seattle, Kansas City, Tennessee and the Eagles.

Babin never endeared himself to this fan base due to his battles with disgruntled fans in the social media and public spheres who dared question his and the team's heart and desire to play better than the 11-16 record the Birds amassed with the MAC product on the club.

Earlier in the day, worse news came down the pike when it was learned that wide receiver DeSean Jackson will miss the remainder of the season because of fractured ribs and will be placed on injured reserve.

"He fractured a couple ribs up high in his chest," said Reid during his day-after game press conference. "He's got multiple fractures."

Jackson was hurt during the first quarter of Monday's loss to Carolina. He is leading the Eagles in receiving with team highs of 45 catches and 700 yards. 

The Eagles have now lost their starting quarterback, top running back and No. 1 receiver in the last three weeks.

Quarterback Michael Vick missed his second straight game Monday because of a concussion. Reid said Vick still hadn't passed an impact test and was set to undergo another on Wednesday.

"I want Mike to get healthy, I haven't gone beyond that thinking there," said Reid about who his starting quarterback would be for next Sunday's game against Dallas.

Vick was hurt two weeks ago against the Cowboys, while running back LeSean McCoy sustained a concussion last week against Washington and sat out Monday's game. McCoy's status is also still uncertain.

Nick Foles has started the last two games at quarterback and the rookie will get another turn on Sunday against the Cowboys if Vick is still not ready to go. Bryce Brown ran for 178 yards with two scores in his first NFL start on Monday in place of McCoy, but also fumbled twice.

Reid also said Tuesday that offensive tackle Jason Peters will be placed on injured reserve. Peters was on the reserve/non-football injury list because of an Achilles' tendon injury he sustained in the offseason.

Union's Adu, Farfan and Okugo training overseas again

Union Forward Freddy Adu, midfielder Michael Farfan and defender Amobi Okugo are contining to hone their skills in the offseason with European clubs Galatasaray in Turkey and SC Freiberg of the German Bundesliga, the club announced.  

Adu is in the midst of a two week training stint with Galatasaray, while Farfan and Okugo are in Germany to train with SC Freiberg. 

This marks the second straight season that Adu, Farfan and Okugo have trained with European clubs in the offseason.  Adu spent two weeks with Spanish side Rayo Vallecano last season, while Farfan traveled to Sunderland last January.  Okugo spent time with Freiberg last December. 

The trio is the latest in a string of Union players traveling to Europe for offseason training, joining Zac MacMath who spent time with Everton, Cristhian Hernandez who was with Real Sociedad and Jimmy McLaughlin who is currently with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. 

Soul trade star receiver Morgan

The Philadelphia Soul have traded wide receiver Donovan Morgan to the New Orleans VooDoo in exchange for their No. 4 pick in the claiming order.  The move was made at Morgan’s request to be closer to his family.

“I enjoyed my time with the Soul and in the great city of Philadelphia,” Morgan said.  “I have some family considerations that need my immediate attention and I have asked the team to arrange a trade to my home city of New Orleans so that I can focus my time at home.  I am grateful to all the fans and wish the entire Soul organization the best of luck in the future.”

In his two seasons with the Soul, Morgan is amongst the franchise career regular-season leaders in receptions (200), receiving yards (2,977), receiving touchdowns (63) and total touchdowns (65).

Morgan was the AFL Rookie of the Year in 2008 while with the Chicago Rush.  He also earned First Team All-Arena in 2010 with the Tulsa Talons and Second Team All-Arena honors while with the Soul in 2011.

Saint Joseph’s to play in Old Spice Classic

PHILADELPHIA, PA. - Saint Joseph’s men’s basketball will be one of eight teams competing in the 2013 Old Spice Classic, to be held this weekend, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, Nov. 28, 29 and Dec. 1, at the HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla.

Joining the Hawks in the field for the eighth annual event are A-10 foe Butler, LSU, Memphis, Oklahoma State, Purdue Siena and Washington State.

The 2013 Old Spice Classic will feature a bracket format with 12 games over three days. Each team will compete in one game per day, advancing through the bracket. The two teams that remain undefeated throughout will face off in a championship game on the final day of competition.

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) will serve as the event’s sponsoring conference for the eighth straight year.

The family-friendly tournament is a weekend-long affair at the Walt Disney World Resort where participating teams practice, play and enjoy the Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks.

Previous winners of the Old Spice Classic have included Dayton, Notre Dame, Florida State, Gonzaga, NC State and Arkansas.

Blow for Joe(ckel)!

Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel
By Steve Lienert

After Monday evening's 30-22 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Eagles fell to 3-8.
If the season ended today, thanks to the one-point win over Cleveland on Opening Day, Philadelphia would have the fourth pick in the 2013 draft.

The Chiefs, who currently own the top pick, the Jags (2-9) and the Browns (3-8) hold the three picks in front of the Birds, but none are expected to take Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel.
That's good news for the Eagles. If they land Joeckel and get Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce back from injury, suddenly the offensive line is vastly improved.

Danny Watkins or Evan Mathis can start at the other guard position or the Eagles can select Kentucky guard Larry Warford or Wisconsin guard/center Travis Frederick in the third round to solidify the line.

However, if one of the benefits of this wretched season happens to be that the Eagles develop some depth on their offensive line, it may open up the opportunity for the Birds to draft Oklahoma QB Landry Jones in the third round.

Ravens QB Joe Flacco could become a free agent at the end of this season but it would be tough to see him leaving Baltimore. The Seahawks traded for former Aaron Rodgers backup Matt Flynn but decided rookie Russell Wilson was a better option. That could make Flynn, and his high salary, an expendable piece. DeSean Jackson for Matt Flynn? Hmmm...

If either of those falls through, the Eagles could do worse than drafting Jones, who backed up Sam Bradford before taking over the reigns in Oklahoma.

Of course this all happens after the Eagles select the new head coach. They need to take a serious look at 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. His act will be refreshing, especially in South Philly.

Once again the backdrop at Andy Reid's press conference was the RICOH ad. "Imagine. Change."
That's all we're doing Andy. That's all we're doing.

It hinges on drafting Joeckel. The Eagles are in prime position to do so.

Failure would set this organization back two more years.

Monday, November 26, 2012

NHL labor dispute to get some Federal intercession

From Bob McKenzie of TSN: "NHL and NHLPA have agreed to allow U.S. federal mediators to get involved in the labor dispute. Deputy Director Scot L. Beckenbaugh, Director of Mediation Services John Sweeney, and Commissioner Guy Serota to serve as the mediators."
The mediation process is slated to begin on Wednesday in an undisclosed location, according to several Canadian sources. 

Mediation was a course attempted in the last lockout, but by that time, in February of 2005, both sides were so entrenched and so far apart that even emergency sessions in Washington, DC did not make a dent. The 2004-05 season was called off days later.  

If mediation were such a desirable and dependable method of resolving labor disputes in the sporting world, it would be tried much sooner than the hour trouble strikes. Those who criticize the NHL/PA for not acting upon this sooner miss the fact that it's only when head-to-head discussions break down that mediation is ever considered or most useful.

Non-binding mediation, as this new step apparently will be approached, means that the principals involved aren't after a means to an end, just a means toward getting both sides to drop pretenses and move themselves towards some kind of accord.

Thus, it's only as good as the willingness of the league and the union to listen to each other and process what the mediators offer to both sides so that the goal of a new CBA is achieved.

College hockey round-up, Week 7

The pride of Carneys Point, New Jersey, sophomore forward Johnny Gaudreau, totaled two goals and three assists on Saturday night as the Eagles doubled up Dartmouth, 6-3, at Conte Forum.

It pushed Boston College (10-1-0) to its 10th straight win and kept the defending national champions atop the national rankings in this week's new poll. Gaudreau, property of the Calgary Flames, has recorded at least one point in all 11 games this season.

The victory also pulled head coach Jerry York within one of Ron Mason's all-time wins mark of 924, with a home-and-home set against rival Boston University on tap for Friday and Saturday -- both of which will be televised on NBCSN.

Last week's #2 and #3 teams saw their paths cross in Colorado.

On Saturday night at Magness Arena, the Denver Pioneers jumped out to a seemingly-safe 3-0 lead in the first period, only to see the New Hampshire Wildcats (9-1-2) recover and score six of the game's final seven goals -- including all four in the third period -- to post a 6-4 decision. Grayson Downing and Kevin Goumas recorded their first collegiate hat tricks to rescue Casey DeSmith, who was pulled after allowing three goals on five shots in just over nine minutes.

That capped a successful weekend, which saw UNH forge a 4-4 deadlock with Colorado College one day earlier that catapulted them into the No. 2 slot. Denver, which also lost to Yale 2-1 in overtime, slid to fifth.

Flyers forward prospect Michael Parks saw his frustrating season continue, as he did not suit up for either of No. 7 North Dakota's games this weekend, a 2-1 win and 5-2 loss at the Ralph against Notre Dame.

It was a rough weekend in upstate New York for the Penn State Nittany Lions, who dropped both of their tilts with 2012 Frozen Four entrant Union College over the weekend. In Friday's opener, Matt Skoff managed to make a career-best 40 saves, but Wayne Simpson and Cole Ikkala provided the necessary offense for the hosts and Colin Stevens added a 22-save whitewash.

On Saturday, Skoff was arguably even better with 42 saves, but the Nits came up on the wrong end of a 4-1 result. David Glen's team-best seventh goal of the year wasn't nearly enough to challenge Union's Troy Grosenick, who made 37 stops. Sophomore defenseman and Flyers prospect Shayne Gostisbehere recorded the go-ahead score in another Bulldog triumph.

Here's head coach Guy Gadowsky's thoughts:

Penn State (6-5-0) returns to the comforts of Central Pennsylvania this weekend, hosting Arizona State for two games.

Princeton recorded a split in its post-holiday slate, winning at Sacred Heart and losing to UMass-Lowell.

In the former, junior forward Andrew Ammon lit up the ice, recording a career-best four-goal effort, including the game-winner coming with 7:09 remaining in the third period. Ammon, out of Virginia, eclipsed his previous best of a regular hat trick against the RiverHawks in December of 2010. In the latter, Tsongas Arena wasn't kind to the Tigers. Terrence Wallin, Michael Colantone and Joseph Pendenza tallied in the final two minutes of the second period to send the hosts to a 3-1 victory.

Now 3-4-1, the Orange and Black face stiffer tests on the road this week coming against ECAC competition, at RPI and at Union on back-to-back nights.

Nebraska-Omaha (8-3-1) came roaring back with a vengeance against Alabama-Huntsville this weekend, winning 3-2 and 8-0. Dusted off for his first action since late October, Anthony Stolarz notched both his first collegiate victory and his first shutout, needing to make just 20 saves on Saturday.

The Mavericks, who have won six in a row, head to the Twin Cities to face Minnesota at Mariucci Arena for two this coming weekend.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The fans have spoken: Operation Hat Trick a success

On Saturday night, an all-time hockey attendance record was set at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City as a group of scattered ex-NHLers came together in the name of charity to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy.

A whopping 10,792 people attended Saturday night's 10-6 victory by Team (Brad) Richards against Team (Scott) Hartnell, far and away the largest crowd for an arena which has recently played host to AHL-level hockey, the ECAC tournament and the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies from 2001-05.

It wasn't a classic contest by any means -- a cross between an exhibition and All-Star farce which saw over 100 combined shots -- but that didn't mean those in attendance didn't bring their vocal 'A' games to the venue.

A partisan crowd unevenly split between Flyers, Rangers and Devils fans alternately turned on each other, Commissioner Gary Bettman and the fact that these players involved aren't playing the game for which they are paid handsomely.

Hartnell had some poignant words after it was all over: "I would be lying if I said I didn’t get choked up when you had 11,000 people cheering 'we want hockey' back." Still, the true meaning and intent of those words from fans deprived of the NHL game is up for debate.

Martin Brodeur wore unfamiliar orange and white of Hartnell's team, and proceeded to allow all 10 scores, clearly outdueled by counterpart and rival Henrik Lundqvist, who started for teammate Richards' squad.

“I think that’s why I [gave up] 10 goals. I’m not used to that orange," Brodeur quipped.

As the lockout passed Day 70, at least the players aren't so blinded by their battle with the owners that they couldn't see customers hungry for their game. Perhaps unaccustomed to the vocal majority of the Northeastern fan, Canadiens defenseman and Toronto native PK Subban said, "There was only 11,000 people out there but it felt like there was 22,000. They were so loud and energetic the whole game and in to it. You can just sense they’re craving for it."

Late to the party of altruistic public figures, but always the life of the party thanks to his brand of tequila and rock club which was damaged in the storm, former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar pledged $1,000 for each goal scored. He'll have to pony up $16,000 in all.

It wasn't all fun and games and a love-fest between players and public. NHLPA head Donald Fehr addressed OHT skaters behind closed doors, and reportedly spread some pessimistic news, that the union and the league are no closer and no wiser than before in attempts to fashion a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Nonetheless, the NHLPA made an undisclosed donation to Operation Hat Trick, and will make further funds available through the auctioning of equipment signed by those who participated.

“Once Thanksgiving is over, it’s a time when people embrace the Holiday season,” offered former Flyers tough guy Todd Fedoruk. “It’s a time for family and friends. But most importantly, it’s a time to reach out to others in need."

According to Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times, the venture has raised approximately $500,000 with the auction forthcoming.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Operation Hat Trick a trick of another kind

Hello again, folks. Nyaaaah!

It's your old pal Evil Bob, back after a looong hiatus to spread some holiday anti-cheer <strokes pencil-thin handlebar moustache> and give you the real scoop on "Operation Hat Trick," that game with all the ex-NHLers taking place this Saturday down in Atlantic City that everyone is just falling all over themselves to let everyone else know they're going.

They got you again, didn't they?

Your blood -- which like all humans, pumps red -- still bleeds Orange and Black, Black and Red or Red, White and Blue for the five major teams in a 130-mile radius. And apparently all it takes for you to spend your hard-earned cash for gas, tolls, tickets and concessions, was for your "heroes" to come streaming back from points unknown and simply take the ice again somewhere.

Nothing says hockey and helping your fellow man like playing near unfrozen water in one of two USA gambling meccas, right?

And of course, that somewhere has to be the Mausoleum-by-the-Sea otherwise known as "Boardwalk Hall." It's a place so sterile (like a hospital waiting room with frescoes) that most fans who are socially inept enough to watch a game there rather than gamble or shop or take in a fine exotic dance show or purchase some gold of untainted origin in this fine city, that their minds wander to the vaulted ceiling to rip on the garish paint job instead of watching a random stick puncture the mouth of a bonus baby now plying his trade in Bratislava instead of Boston.

Remember that New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, unaffiliated with the NHL, not on strike and not locked out, without drama or much fanfare, pledged $1 million of his own money to help victims of Sandy. BOOM! Roasted.

That's true Christian charity, and while it's not 100 percent on the saintly (get it?!) ledger, it's a hell of a lot more altruistic than millionaires who have little interest in sticking around to influence their boss to get a new Collective Bargaining Agreement done suddenly riding in on their White Horses and putting together nothing more than a cheap PR stunt.

You have to hand it to them. Even without advance notice of the NHL's plans to get rid of the All-Star Game and the next two week block of regular-season matchups as of today, they get the badly-needed win. It's like pouring a bag of sugar on a flan. Wilford Brimley would drop dead of diabeetus, this thing is dripping with so much sweetness.

Want further evidence you've been had? Rick Tocchet coaches one team and some dude from that Guinea train wreck MTV show is coaching the other.

The idea of giving to those who need is so pervasive these days, that most of you don't even think -- you just turn your pockets inside out, and are content with yourselves for having done something the world will give you a gold star for doing when there's nothing special about it anymore. A slow clap is in order but that's it.

How quickly you forget these one-trick ponies are roughly half of the reason you cry into your pillows and whine on social media each day about the fact that "hockey is gone" when it's all around you, 30 NHL teams aside. 

You know what the smart thing would be instead of a Pavlovian reflex involving the lightening of your wallet for these international con artists? For some of those close enough to AC to attend the game and who have seen their lives wrecked because of the effects of the hurricane head up to each player and give them a piece of their minds.

Tell Henrik Lundqvist that he's not really cleaning your flooded basement or comforting family members traumatized by damage to their neighborhood by jetting in and jetting out with roughly two hours of his time allotted to play a game.

Mention to Daniel Alfredsson that his cash is no good here (seriously, look up the exchange rate on that). Hand Martin Brodeur the soggy, broken remnants of your ocean-view deck and tell him thanks for the memory.

Inform Scott Hartnell that while he has the option of a) owning a team and b) playing on that team in another continent, you on the other hand don't even have one house in working order in which to live, and have only one job which needs to provide for children, and that maybe using his influence as a Flyers player rep in the union/league negotiations, he might be better served helping rescue a season which may be more of a burden lifter and pleasant distraction in the long run than a simple one-shot deal.

It kinda makes those "liberal" rockers Springsteen and Bon Jovi -- who will organize a benefit at the drop of an upturned fedora -- look good by comparison, because at least they were born, raised and live in the state of New Jersey.

Whatever this is, it ain't nearly enough, and could have been organized just as easily, and a lot less conspicuously, without the flash and trash of what used to be the National Hockey League.

You say there's 10,000 people expected to show up? A question: what is the sound of 20,000 hands clapping? Anybody who's ever been to the weathered edifice on the 2300 block of Pacific Avenue knows that whatever it is, it's usually overwhelmed by the cavernous dimensions of the place, like a scream muted in the vacuum of outer space.

Even if the Jersey Shore version of the Santa Ana winds sweep through the seats and there's a persistent purposeful chant of "We Want Hockey," fat chance anyone of consequence, i.e. the actual players, would be caught noticing it.

So, good luck to you all who make the trip. Remember, just walk up to the table and put it all on black and always hit when you have 16. And when that nice man in the pinstripe suit tells you to get in the limo which will take you to the best bar in town which he says will host the OHT after-party, go ahead and hop in. Nothing could possibly go wrong because charity is something everyone at every level can get behind.

NHL announces All-Star game gone, as are games through December 14

The National Hockey League announced today the cancellation of the 2012-13 regular-season schedule through December 14.

The NHL also decided to blow up something that is of questionable interest anyway, the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend which had been scheduled for January 26-27 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The cancellations were necessary due to the absence of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players' Association and the NHL.

"The reality of losing more regular-season games as well as the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus is extremely disappointing," said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. "We feel badly for NHL fans and particularly those in Columbus, and we intend to work closely with the Blue Jackets organization to return the NHL All-Star events to Columbus and their fans as quickly as possible."

News of this latest round of cuts comes just over 24 hours until a consortium of former NHLers will play for charity in Atlantic City and two days after the league did not react favorably to a union proposal which involved greater concessions than at any point previously.

A total of 422 regular-season games -- 34.3 percent of the season -- were scheduled for Oct. 11 through Dec. 14.

“On Wednesday, the players presented a comprehensive proposal, once again moving in the owners’ direction in order to get the game back on the ice. The gap that remains on the core economic issues is $182 million," said NHLPA head Don Fehr in a statement issued this afternoon. "On Wednesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the league is losing $18-20 million per day during the lockout, therefore two more weeks of cancelled games far exceeds the current economic gap. It makes the NHL’s announcement of further game cancellations, including the 2013 All-Star Weekend, all the more unnecessary, and disappointing for all hockey fans – especially those in Columbus. The players remain ready to negotiate but we require a willing negotiating partner.”

Seven more Philadelphia Flyers games will fall by the wayside, and if a season is to begin at the end of this latest round of cuts, it will be at home on December 15 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

This is Day 69 of the lockout. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Extra Points: Harbaugh creates unnecessary QB controversy - San Francisco 49ers -

Extra Points: Harbaugh creates unnecessary QB controversy - San Francisco 49ers -

NHL, NHLPA closer than ever in CBA talks but still so far

The twin meetings which involved the NHLPA proposal and the NHL's consideration of such have concluded on Wednesday, with some promising news but not all is well.

Despite the fact that the players' union proposal is roughly $182 million away from the league's offer, the gap is closing fast from the $1 billion difference there had been.

From Bob McKenzie, TSN of Canada: "So, to review, NHLPA is prepared to go to 50-50 immediately, but wants $393M over four years as part of so-called "Make Whole...Only system issue addressed is back-diving contracts (cap hit penalties for retired players) but not 5 per cent variance rule or term limit."

Among the addendums to the new proposal are: For on-ice discipline, appeal process to neutral arbitrator or panel of 3 arbitrators (one NHL, one NHLPA, one neutral; elimination of re-entry waivers and the four-recall rule post trade deadline; that any salary over $1 million in the minors gets counted against the salary cap but not the players' share; the Upper Limit of the salary cap may not fall below 67.25 million in any year of the agreement.

The NHL is still pushing for a five-year term for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, while the PA obviously wants something longer.

In addition, Renaud Lavoie from RDS of Canada stated that he believed this last amended proposal is the last one the union will offer, leaving the league to do with it what it will. The breakdown, according to Lavoie, is as follows: the players' share is 50/50 of Hockey Related Revenues. 182 million in 2012-13, 128 million in2013-14, 72 million in 2014-15 and 11 million in 2015-16.

Read the full release, from TSN here.

Speculation, in the form of a tweet from former Islanders scribe Chris Botta last week, was that if the NHL didn't accept terms of a new NHLPA offer, games through December 15 would be cancelled. Further reports earlier this week indicated the All-Star Game, scheduled for Columbus, would be included in the next round of cuts.

"We're making a move in their direction, so I don't see why they wouldn't consider it," Penguins captain and chief face of the union's negotiating force Sidney Crosby told Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday morning. "What we want back on the make-whole is not even close to what we're putting on the table, everything combined."

Where things turned sour is that the league has apparently been non-plussed by the union's efforts. Commissioner Gary Bettman issued a terse answer minutes after the NHL's meeting completed: "We did not put our offer off the table, even if some owners asked. To think our offer will be better as time goes on is not accurate. We're still far apart. Its frustrating for everybody. We are mystified why we are not playing."

There have been 327 games cancelled to this point, the 67th day of the lockout.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sixers turn it on late, claw past Raptors

Special to the Phanatic

Nick Young and Jason Richardson scored 23 and 21 points, respectively, as the Philadelphia 76ers used a late surge to take down the Toronto Raptors, 106-98.

Jrue Holiday added 19 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds and three steals for the Sixers, who have won three in a row. Thaddeus Young ended with 18 points and seven boards.

"I told my players to remember this win," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "We had a lot of fight in the fourth quarter. I'm very proud of them."

DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani had 24 and 22 points, respectively, for the Raptors, who fell to 1-5 on the road this season. Jose Calderon donated 13 points and 12 assists.

Trailing by six, 92-86, with 5:29 to play, Nick Young made a pair of 3- pointers and Thaddeus Young put in a layup to put the Sixers ahead by two.

It remained a two-point contest after Amir Johnson and Holiday made shots for their respective teams. Kyle Lowry followed with a jumper from inside the lane to make it 96-96 with 1:58 to go.

Richardson, who suffered a head contusion in the third quarter, recorded a three-point play to put Philadelphia back on top. After Lowry missed a pair of foul shots, Richardson made a 3-pointer from the corner to make it a 102-96 contest with 1:20 left.

The Sixers kept the momentum as Nick Young blocked Lowry. Thaddeus Young made a layup at the other end to cap an 8-0 run by the home team.

Bargnani's hook shot and Thaddeus Young's slam accounted for the final margin.

"We had control of the game and we've got to make basketball plays," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.

Toronto led by as many as 10 in the first quarter and took a 29-22 margin into the second.

The Sixers went on an 11-2 run late in the second stanza to tie the game at 46. It was 51-51 at the half.

Down 65-64 with 5:36 remaining in the third frame, Toronto used a 12-0 surge to take the lead again. Bargnani bookended the burst with a jumper and 3- pointer to make it a 76-65 game.

The Raptors took an 80-73 margin into the fourth.

Notes: Philadelphia improved to 2-0 against the Raptors this season...The Sixers went 3-2 on a five-game homestand...Toronto started a three-game road trip on Tuesday...Lowry had 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Monday, November 19, 2012

McCoy, Vick concussion updates

Philadelphia  Eagles running  back  LeSean McCoy  suffered  a concussion  during his  club's 31-6  loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

McCoy  departed the  game late in the  fourth quarter after absorbing a hit to the  helmet, and Birds head coach Andy Reid confirmed the diagnosis during his brief post-game press conference.

"We were trying to catch up and win the game," was Reid's response when asked why McCoy was kept in the game so late in a blowout loss.

The Pitt product finished the game with 67 yards on six receptions and 45 yards on 15 carries.

"He was in Stage 1...just taking it day-by-day. He's got a bit of a headache right now," Reid added at his customary day-after press conference on Monday.

As for quarterback Michael Vick, he took his scheduled imPACT test on Monday but did not reach his baseline. Reid relayed that trainer Rick Burkholder placed Vick at Stage 1, and also revealed that Vick was in line to start next Monday night against Carolina

College hockey round-up, Week 6

Boston College continued its early-season roll over the weekend, winning its ninth straight game and remaining atop the new weekly Division I poll.

The Eagles moved to 9-1-0 and gave head coach Jerry York his 922nd career victory with a come-from-behind home victory over Merrimack on Friday night. Down 3-0 in the second period, Steven Whitney, Patrick Wey and Danny Linell tallied to tie the game, then Whitney's second of the contest coming with 7:22 left in regulation was the winner.

York, who is two away from tying Ron Mason's record of 924 wins and three away from setting a new record, will have a prime chance to achieve immortality by the time his kids complete their next three outings: hosting undefeated and suddenly-ranked Dartmouth this Saturday and then a home-and-home, nationally-televised weekend set with Boston University on November 30 and December 1.

Unlike last week, it was not a unanimous decision.

Denver remained at No. 2 and picked up a pair of first-place votes, while New Hampshire ascended to No. 3 along with one first-place mention.

The Pioneers made their surge thanks to a pair of victories over Colorado College (6-2, 6-5) to run their record to 9-1-0, while the Wildcats took home their third and fourth wins in a row after dispatching UMass-Lowell on Friday (3-0) and BU on Sunday (3-1). Denver and New Hampshire (8-1-1) will meet on Saturday at Magness Arena in Colorado's capital. Wildcats goaltender Casey DeSmith was virtually impenetrable, eventually stretching his personal-best and school-record shutout streak to 203:32.

Minnesota and Miami of Ohio both dropped one spot to fourth and fifth, respectively. The Golden Gophers fell despite a win and tie (2-2, 3-1) against perennial WCHA rivals Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday at Mariucci Arena, while the RedHawks slipped despite a tie and win (2-2, 2-0) against CCHA foe Michigan State.

The top 10 was rounded out by Notre Dame, North Dakota, Union College, Western Michigan and Boston University. For the former Fighting Sioux, Flyers prospect and sophomore Michael Parks made his season debut in Friday's 4-4 tie against Minnesota-Duluth, but left before the end of the game with an undisclosed injury.

More bad luck for Philly 2012 selection Anthony Stolarz of Nebraska-Omaha...while the Mavericks were off this weekend, word came down last Tuesday that fellow netminder John Faulkner was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week after stopping 61-of-66 shots in two victories against UMD.

A reminder that Penn State enjoyed the week off, and will return to the ice for two games at Union after the holiday.

Princeton received a sound drubbing on the road in upstate New York last weekend. On Friday, the other Orange and Black managed to hold on for a 3-3 tie with St. Lawrence, then wound up on the wrong end of a 7-2 decision at neighbor Clarkson on Saturday. The Tigers continue their seven-game road swing this weekend, playing Sacred Heart on Friday afternoon in Fairfield, CT and then UMass-Lowell at Tsongas Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Reid's job safe...for next week

Angry with the 31-6 loss to Washington yesterday?

Thinking that Andy Reid may have coached his last game in Philadelphia? Think again, according to Les Bowen of the Daily News.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Griffin, Redskins rout sagging Eagles; McCoy has concussion

Special to the Phanatic

Landover, MD -- Robert Griffin III threw for 200 yards and a career-high four touchdowns on 14-of-15 efficiency while rushing for 85 more, as the Washington Redskins dispatched the reeling Philadelphia Eagles by a 31-6 count in an NFC East clash at FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon.

Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson, Logan Paulsen and Darrel Young each had a TD reception for the Redskins (4-6), who snapped a three-game slide heading into a traditional matchup in Dallas on Thanksgiving and also picked up their first home win over Philadelphia since 2008.

"Nothing's going to change. Robert's going to go out there and make plays and continue to be special," Moss said of his rookie quarterback. "That's the gift that he has, he's a special guy. He brings that kind of 'specialness.' I don't know if that's a word, but he brings it to our offense."

Starting in place of the concussed Michael Vick, Nick Foles finished 21-of-46 for 204 yards and two interceptions for the Eagles (3-7), who have lost six in a row for the first time under Andy Reid and the first time since dropping seven straight to end the 1994 campaign.

"When you have a guy making his first start in the league, other guys have to elevate their game, and I felt like as a team we didn't do that," said Eagles wideout Jeremy Maclin.

Rich Kotite presided over that luckless streak, which dropped the Birds from the lead in the NFC Wild Card race to 7-9 and out of postseason consideration.

Alex Henery's pair of field goals accounted for all of Philadelphia's offense. LeSean McCoy registered 67 yards on six receptions and 45 rushing yards on 15 carries before leaving late after absorbing a hit to the helmet. Reid later reported that the Pitt product suffered a concussion on the play.

"We were trying to catch up and win the game," said Reid when asked why his featured back was still playing in the final minutes of a blowout loss.

The Birds have a chance to right the ship next Monday night at the Linc against one of the few teams left worse off than they, welcoming Cam Newton and the 2-8 Carolina Panthers to prime time.

Misfortune  for the  rookie signal  caller out  of Arizona  came on  the first Eagles  series.  Three plays  in, Foles  was picked off  by DeAngelo Hall, who returned  a tipped ball which fell from tight end Brent Celek's hands 22 yards to  the  Philadelphia 9-yard line. Two  plays later, Griffin lofted a ball for Young  on the  right side  and he  strolled  into the  end zone  for a  6-yard touchdown.

The  Birds reached the  Redskins' 42 on their next series but Foles was picked by  Brandon Meriweather, but the hosts failed to sustain a drive, going three-and-out. The Redskins punted, leaving the visitors on their own 16.

Henery eventually put Philly on the board when he connected from 41 yards away early in the second to cap the ensuing 61-yard, 11-play series.

Washington, however, struck seven plays later when Griffin found Robinson wide open on the right side for a 49-yard touchdown and 14-3 game.

Another  miscue by  the Birds  cost  them three  more points.  McCoy lost  the football  on the  first play of the  Birds' final touch of the first half, and the  hosts took over on the 14. Kai Forbath ended the half with a 25-yard make and it was a 14-point spread for Washington.

Henery  was true from  42 yards away to cap Philly's first series of the third quarter,  but on  the following possession, Moss came down with a Griffin pass in  double coverage and  broke a tackle en route to a 61-yard score and a 24-6 game with 4:50 left in the quarter.

The  rout was on  early in the fourth when Griffin and Paulsen hooked up for a 17-yard score that finished off a 55-yard march.

Philadelphia's penultimate possession resulted in a punt and its final one was a  turnover on  downs when Foles' pass  to Clay Harbor fell incomplete on 4th-and-3 from the Redskins' 34-yard line inside the last minute of play.

"Early turnovers, penalties, drops, giving up the big plays, those are all problems with this game," was all the explanation Reid offered at the start of his usual postgame presser.

Notes: The Redskins outgained the Eagles by a 361-257 margin, including a 169-80 edge on  the  ground ...  The 25-point  margin of victory  most for Washington over Philadelphia  since  a 28-3 decision on  Nov. 15, 1998 ... Redskins linebacker London  Fletcher played in his 234th consecutive game ... Despite the setback, the Eagles are 16-9 vs. the Redskins since 2000, which includes a 10-3 mark in DC ... Alfred Morris picked up 76 yards on 20 carries for Washington ... Riley Cooper ended up with 61 yards on five receptions for Philadelphia.

VIDEO: GSP vs. Carlos Condit fight highlights

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Temple's Harris runs wild at Army, sets new school records in blowout win

Temple running back Montel Harris set the Michie Stadium turf on fire Saturday afternoon, in the Owls' 63-32 victory over Army.

Subbing for an injured Matt Brown -- who scored two TDs on the ground before leaving with an undisclosed injury -- Harris struck for 351 yards and seven touchdowns.

The offensive outburst tied the program's single-season points record set back in 1973 (Sept. 29) in a win 63-34 win at Holy Cross.  The Owls also established a new team record for rushing yards with 534, breaking the old mark set in 1977 against Drake (477 yards in a 42-0 home win on Sept. 17).

Harris' monster day was far and away the most yards gained by an Army opponent, smashing Tony Dorsett's original mark of 268 yards for Pitt back in 1975. His total rushing yards eclipsed Paul Palmer's record of 349 and the touchdown record last accomplished by Bernard Pierce of five in one contest.

Temple snapped a four-game losing streak and will finish their season at home against Syracuse on Friday morning at the Linc. With no 12th game on the slate as logistics eliminated a possible matchup with Hawaii, the Owls need to have every break go their way along with a win against the Orange to have a crack at a bowl berth.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Vick out, Foles in as Birds face Redskins

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Magazine 

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will not play Sunday against the NFC East rival Washington Redskins as he continues to recover from a concussion, meaning rookie Nick Foles will make his first NFL start at FedEx Field.

Eagles  head coach Andy Reid made  it official on Friday, declaring Vick out. The  veteran signal-caller  is still  dealing with  the effects  of what  Reid earlier  this week  called a "pretty significant" concussion, which forced him out of last Sunday's 38-23 home loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Trainer Rick Burkholder said Vick is still bothered by headaches, lethargy and lack  of  sleep, in addition to  earlier reports of sensitivity to light. Vick took  an  "impact test" on  Friday and performed  below his baseline, and will have another one on Monday.

Foles  took over  for Vick last week  and threw for 219 yards while completing 22-of-32  passes with  a touchdown.  He also  threw an  interception that  was returned for a touchdown and lost a fumble that was recovered by Dallas in the end  zone for  another score, as the  Eagles lost their fifth straight game to
fall to 3-6.

It marked the first time in Reid's tenure that the club has lost as many in a row, and first since a 5-game slide under Ray Rhodes which came at the outset (September 6-October 4) of a 3-13 season in 1998. Philadelphia has not lost as many as six straight since a 7-game slide to end the 1994 campaign.

The 23-year-old Foles threw for 4,334 yards on 387-of-560 completions for 28 touchdowns and 14 picks during his senior season in Tucson.

Also listed as out are wide receivers Jason Avant and Mardy Gilyard, both with hamstring issues. Guard Danny Watkins is questionable with a troublesome ankle injury.

Soul lands All-Arena kicker Martinez

PHILADELPHIA – The American Conference Champion Philadelphia Soul and the Arena Football League announce that kicker Carlos Martinez (5’8, 180, Buena Vista) will join the team’s roster for the 2013 season.  The former Beaver, who is entering his ninth AFL season, agreed to a one-year contract.

“Carlos is one of the best kickers in the AFL,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel.  “He does everything you ask for in a kicker – long on kickoffs, consistency on extra points and he isn’t afraid to tackle on special teams.  We are very pleased to have him onboard this season.”

Martinez has played for the Dallas Desperados (2004-06), Georgia Force (2007-08 and 2011-12) and the Orlando Predators (2010) during his eight seasons in the AFL.  He is coming off a season where he converted on 97-of-109 (88.9%) of his extra points and 13-of-23 (56.5%) of his field goals for the Force in 2012.  The standout kicker was named AFL Kicker of the Year and First-Team All-Arena after connecting on 113-of-125 (90.4%) of his extra points and 11-of-18 (61.1%) of his field goals with the Georgia Force in 2011.

For his career, Martinez converted 731-of-812 (90.2%) of his extra points and 69-of-133 (51.9%) of his field goals.  He also earned Second Team All-Arena honors in 2010 with Orlando and was named to the Al Lucas Hero Team in 2008 with Georgia.

Martinez played college football at Buena Vista University, and was a four-year letterman in football as a kicker.  He was a three-time All-America selection, a three-time All-IIAC honoree.  As a senior, he was also named the NCAA Division III Kicker of the Year and as a junior, he was named the team Special Teams Player of the Year.

He is the all-time field goal leader at Buena Vista with 48 and second all-time in Division III history.  Martinez also excelled as a punter in college, with an average exceeding 40 yards.  Martinez capped off his senior season at BVU in 2002 with a selection to play for the American Football Coaches Association Division III All-Star Team which represented the United States against the Mexican National Team in the 2001 Aztec Bowl.

Villanova snares two recruits

VILLANOVA, Pa. –  Two products of the metropolitan Washington, D.C., region have inked national letters of intent to become Villanova Wildcats, it was announced today. Guard Josh Hart, 6-5, of Sidwell Friends School, and forward Kris Jenkins, 6-6, Gonzaga High School, are set to enroll in the fall of 2013.

Hart averaged 20.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game as a junior in 2011-12. The versatile swingman played his AAU basketball for Team Takeover.<p>

“Josh Hart is a complete player who can play any position,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “He and his family will be great Villanovans for life. Josh is an outstanding player and student coming from Sidwell Friends and having been coached by Eric Singletary.”

Jenkins is ranked No. 73 in the ESPN top 100 listing of the class of 2013. As a junior, he averaged 20.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per outing. The native of Washington, D.C. played his AAU basketball for D.C. Assault.

“We’re thrilled to have Kris Jenkins join the Villanova family,” stated Wright. “He brings incredible skill, toughness and great basketball IQ. He comes from a tremendous program with a great coach in Steve Turner. He will be a favorite of the Nova Nation.”

Hart and Jenkins will add to a rich legacy of Wildcats from the metropolitan region of Washington that includes former standouts George Raveling, George Leftwich, Larry, Keith and Reggie Herron, Dwayne Anderson, Dante Cunningham and Scottie Reynolds.

Soul bring back Kizer, Stevenson

PHILADELPHIA  – The American Conference Champion Philadelphia Soul and the Arena Football League announce that defensive backs, Rayshaun Kizer (5’10, 190, Walsh) and LaRico Stevenson (5’11, 205, West Georgia) will return to the team in 2013.  Both players have been secured with two-year contracts that will keep them in Philadelphia through the 2014 season.

“The defensive secondary is an important part of any successful team,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel.  “Any time you can get starters to return from a successful defense, you have to be happy.  Rayshaun is like the quarterback of the defense, while LaRico is very athletic and physical.  Both guys have a knack for making big plays and making quarterbacks pay for their mistakes.”

Kizer, who is a two-time All-Arena performer, finished 2012 leading the League in passes defended (41) and pass breakups (30), while recording 81.0 total tackles, 11 interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.  Prior to coming to Philadelphia, he had two impressive seasons with the Orlando Predators (2010-11) receiving First Team All-Arena honors in both seasons.  In two seasons with the Predators, Kizer played in 32 games, had 28 interceptions, 385 interception return yards, four touchdowns, and 37 pass break-ups.

Kizer was also a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2011) and Montreal Alouettes (2008) of the Canadian Football League, and was a member of the New York Jets (2007) as an undrafted free agent playing in three of four preseason games for the team.

Stevenson, who played just six regular-season games for the Soul, recorded 20.0 total tackles, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.  He also played in six games for the Pittsburgh Power at the beginning of the 2012 season where he had 33.0 total tackles, two interceptions, five pass breakups and a forced fumble.

Stevenson, a three-year veteran, began his AFL career with the Tulsa Talons in 2010 and has 161.0 total tackles and seven interceptions for his career.

Union's Pfeffer and Steffen called up by the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team

Chester, Pa. – Midfielder Zach Pfeffer and Philadelphia Union Academy member Zackary Steffen have been called up by the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team for their latest training camp from Nov. 17-24 in Carson, Calif.

During the training camp, the U-18 MNT is scheduled to square off against the Canada U-18 Men’s National Team on Wednesday, Nov. 21 and Friday, Nov. 23; both matches are slated to kick off at 3 p.m. PT.  Coached by Javier Perez, the team last convened in the Netherlands in September, where they competed against U-18 club teams representing Feyenoord Rotterdam, Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge.

"Anytime you get a chance to represent your country regardless of the level it's a big honor,” said Pfeffer.  “I am excited for the opportunity and always take a lot from those training sessions."

Pfeffer, one of five professionals on the 24-player roster, signed as the Union’s first ever Homegrown player in 2010 and made his first official league appearance with the Union in 2011, starting in a 1-0 victory against the Columbus Crew on September 17. Pfeffer, 17, most recently captained the Union’s U-17 squad to the 2012 Generation adidas Cup.

Rated the top goalkeeper in the class of 2013 by ESPNHS, Steffen verbally committed to the University of Maryland earlier this year.  In addition to participating in Philadelphia's academy system and the Union’s Reserve League team, Steffen plays for Youth Development Affillate FC DELCO and has been a member of the US Youth National Teams since the age of 14.

Soul announce schedule

PHILADELPHIA – The Arena Football League and the Philadelphia Soul have released the 2013 regular-season schedule and division alignments.  The Soul will open the regular season on Saturday, March 23 with a re-match of ArenaBowl XXV in Arizona when they travel to face the Rattlers and will be featured as the “Game of the Week” on new national television partner CBS Sports Network.

The team’s home opener at the Wells Fargo Center will be on Saturday, April 20 against Eastern Division rival, the Cleveland Gladiators.  The team’s nine-game home schedule includes eight Saturdays and one Friday that includes visits from: Cleveland, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Arizona, New Orleans, Iowa, Chicago and Utah.

“The task of making a return to the ArenaBowl is always a difficult one, but one that we will be prepared to tackle,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel.  “There will be plenty of strong teams this season and we will be tested right out of the gate with an ArenaBowl re-match against Arizona in Week 1.  We will be looking forward to one of the best home-field advantages in the League when we open up against Cleveland in Week 5.”

The Soul will be in the American Conference and will be placed in the Eastern Division with the Cleveland Gladiators and Pittsburgh Power.  The American Conference champions will face a schedule where the combined 2012 record of their opponents is 158-166.

Schedule highlights include:

·         Week 1 and 11; Re-match of Arena Bowl XXV against the Arizona Rattlers.

·         Week 2 and 9; Face former head coach Doug Plank and the Orlando Predators.

·         Week 4 and 14; Face former head coach Mike Hohensee and the Iowa Barnstormers.

·         Week 5 vs. Cleveland; Home Opener on April 20 against Eastern Division rival.

·         Week 8 and 13 vs. Pittsburgh; “Keystone Collision”, divisional games against in-state rival.

·         Week 18 vs. San Jose; the re-match of ArenaBowl XXII in San Jose on July 20.

·         Week 10 vs. Jacksonville; Re-match of the 2012 American Conference Championship game.

Union's McLaughlin training with Hoffenheim 1899

Chester, Pa.- Midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin is in the midst of a 10-day offseason training stint with Bundesliga side Hoffenheim 1899.

The Malvern, Pa. native will return to Philadelphia on November 21.  Signed as the Union’s second Homegrown player on December 12, 2011, this is McLaughlin’s first training trip abroad.

A former member of the Union’s Academy, McLaughlin saw action in one First Team match this season, playing 17 minutes against Sporting Kansas City on October 24, as well as various Reserve League matches.  He was also loaned for a portion of the season to the Harrisburg City Islanders.  McLaughlin played one season of college soccer at Colgate University, taking home the 2011 Patriot League Rookie of the Year award.

McLaughlin is the third member of the Union to train abroad this season.  Goalkeeper Zac MacMath is currently training alongside U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard at Everton, while forward Cristhian Hernandez is with Real Sociedad in Spain.

Eagles bring in veteran OL help

The Eagles have signed veteran offensive lineman Jake Scott to a one-year contract. To make room on the 53-man roster, the Eagles released G Julian Vandervelde.

The 31-year-old Scott has started 121 career regular season games and nine postseason contests with the Indianapolis Colts (2004-07) and Tennessee Titans (2008-11) during his career. He started all 16 games in each of the last seven years. He has the ability to play both guard positions and even started three games at right tackle during his career. While with the Colts, Scott (6-5, 292) lined up for Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd and helped the club earn a Super Bowl championship in 2006. He signed with Tennessee as an unrestricted free agent on March 10, 2008.

A native of Lewiston, Idaho, Scott was a 5th round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2004. A former walk-on at Idaho, Scott ended up starting 45 games during his collegiate career and earned a degree in civil engineering.

Former Eagle Sutton passes

The Philadelphia Eagles announced that former defensive back and halfback Joe “Bud” Sutton passed away at the age of 88.

Sutton played in three seasons with the Eagles from 1950-52, notching 13 interceptions in 30 games. He led the team with eight interceptions in his first year with the club in 1950. He also played one season with the Buffalo Bills in 1949 prior to joining the Eagles.

Born on April 24, 1924, in Philadelphia, Sutton attended Northeast Catholic High School and helped lead the football team to a city championship in 1942. Upon graduating from high school, Sutton served in the army in the 131st battalion in World War II. He attended Temple University after he returned from service.

Sutton is survived by his wife, Patricia, and their three children; son, Jack and daughters, Cheryl and Nancy.

Tiger Jones returns to Soul

PHILADELPHIA  – The American Conference Champion Philadelphia Soul and the Arena Football League announce that Anthony “Tiger” Jones (5’11, 195, Louisville) will return to the team in 2013.  The former Cutter’s Receiver of the Year and All-Arena performer agreed to a two-year deal that keeps him in Philadelphia through the 2014 season.

“We continue to make personnel moves that strengthen our team,” said Soul general manager Tom Goodhines.  “We will continue to put the core pieces in place for another championship run.  The entire organization is excited to have Tiger back in a Soul uniform.”

Jones becomes the sixth player – joining Dan Raudabaugh, Derrick Ross, Donovan Morgan, Joe Goosby and Christian Johnson – to return from the 2012 American Conference Championship team for the 2013 season.

“It is great to have Tiger back in the fold,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel.  “He is a great weapon to have in our offense.  He’s a physical player with great instincts and is a perfect fit for our system.  We expect to pick right up where we left off last season.”

Jones, who was awarded the AFL’s Cutter’s Wide Receiver of the Year in 2011, is coming off a record-setting season in 2012 despite missing the final two games due to signing with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.  Jones finished the 2012 season by tallying 133 receptions for franchise-record 2,010 yards and 47 touchdowns in 16 games.

He had a career-best season with the Dallas Vigilantes in 2011, he was on the receiving end of 171 passes, 2,232 yards, and 42 touchdowns on the season.

Jones has spent time with the NFL’s Washington Redskins (2005), Georgia Force (2008) being named to the Arena Football League’s All-Rookie Team, and named Second Team All-Arena with the Milwaukee Iron (2010).

Tiger played collegiate football at the University of Louisville under former head coach Bobby Petrino.  He played in 51 games over three seasons, tallying 26 catches for 326 yards and four touchdowns and was part of the Cardinals team that played in the 2001 Liberty Bowl and the 2002 GMAC Bowl.

Temple - Syracuse to kick off at 11 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA – The Temple BIG EAST football game with Syracuse on Friday, Nov. 23 [Black Friday] will kick off at 11 a.m. at Lincoln Financial Field.

ESPN2 will televise the game nationally.

The game is the home finale for the Owls.  The Senior Class will be honored during a pregame ceremony.

This week Temple (3-6, 2-4 BIG EAST) travels to Army (2-8) on Nov. 17 for a Noon game at Michie Stadium. CBS College Sports Network will televise the game nationally.

Soul bring back OL Johnson

PHILADELPHIA  – The American Conference Champion Philadelphia Soul and the Arena Football League announce the return of offensive linemen Christian Johnson (6’4, 330, Kentucky) to the Soul’s 2013 roster. 

The second-year veteran agreed to terms on a two-year deal that keeps him in Philadelphia through the 2014 season.

“Along with being one of best offensive lineman in the League, Christian is a leader on and off the field,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel.  “He was a big part of why we had the few sacks in the League and why we led the League in rushing last season.  He’s an All-Arena caliber talent and part of the foundation that we are putting in place that will help us get back to the ArenaBowl.”

Johnson, who was one of the anchors on an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks in the AFL, played in 14 regular-season games and all three postseason contests for the Soul in 2012.  The third-year All-Arena caliber lineman played his rookie season under Dolezel in Dallas in 2011.  During his time at Kentucky (2005-08), he appeared in 36 games while earning the starting nod 15 times.  His high-school career at West Potomac, Alexandria, VA included earning All-Metro honors for the District of Columbia Area, and a two-year All-District pick.

In addition to bringing back Johnson, the team secured the services of veteran former Kansas City Command (AFL) wide receiver Jackie Chambers (5’10, 188, Lane College), defensive back Jeffrey Hodges (5’9, 185, Sacred Heart), Tyrone Collins (6’0, 200, Wagner) and defensive lineman/linebacker Calvin Fance (6’1, 245, Angelo State).

“Chambers brings veteran experience to our receiving corps, while Hodges and Fance are guys that will add depth at key positions for us,” Dolezel said.  “Collins was impressive in our open tryouts and we are excited to see what he can do on the field.”

Union name Ricardo Ansaldi as the club’s new Director of International Player Development

Chester, Pa. – Philadelphia Union have named Ricardo Ansaldi as the club’s new Director of International Player Development.  A 30-year veteran of the international soccer scene, Ansaldi will be charged with recruiting top talent from every corner of the world.

“Ricardo brings a wealth of international experience to our staff and organization,” said Union Team Manager John Hackworth.  “I had the good fortune of working with him numerous times when I was working with the U.S. National teams and I was always impressed.  He has contacts at every level and we are confident that is knowledge and expertise will help bring the world's top talent to the Philadelphia Union."

Ansaldi’s career in soccer began in the 1980’s, when he founded Premier Soccer Tours, a company that made it possible for Argentine youth soccer teams to play abroad.  By 1993, the business grew to be the main logistics and operation provider for any national or pro team playing at Miami’s Orange Bowl, giving him the unique opportunity to work with the national teams of Brazil (1998 Gold Cup), Argentina (2003-04 U.S. tours), Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico and El Salvador.

In the late 90’s, Premier Soccer Tours further expanded to include U.S. teams traveling to South America (mainly to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay), working with all levels of U.S. Soccer, various Major League Soccer teams and countless college, club and state association teams.  Ansaldi also organized many international tournaments featuring the United States, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Australia, Peru, New Zealand and Venezuela.

Villanova's Ty Johnson set to transfer

VILLANOVA, Pa. –  Sophomore guard Ty Johnson (Plainfield, N.J./Montrose Christian School) has informed the Villanova coaching staff that he intends to transfer.

Johnson came to Villanova in 2011 and spent one season in a Wildcats’ uniform. He appeared in all 32 games in 2011-12 and earned nine starting assignments. The 6-3 guard averaged 3.3 points, 1.0 rebounds, and 17.7 minutes per outing. He was second on the squad in assists with 65 – an average of 2.0 apg.

“We’re going to miss Ty,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “He has handled this with class. We all respect his work ethic, athletic ability and commitment to this program. We want what’s best for Ty.”

Johnson plans to work out with the coaching staff while he completes the fall academic semester at Villanova.

Union hosting open tryout

Chester, Pa.– Think you have what it takes to play for Philadelphia Union?

The Union will hold open tryouts at YSC Sports in Wayne, Pa. (224 County Line Road) on November 17 from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., the club announced today.

Each participant will be guaranteed two opportunities, a morning and an afternoon session, to impress the Union Technical Staff.

“We know that there is a lot of undiscovered soccer talent in the Philadelphia area and we’re excited to see if we can uncover the next Union player right here in our own backyard,” said Union Team Manager John Hackworth.

Though there is no age requirement, participation is limited and will be on a first come, first served basis.  There is a registration fee of $130 and trialists are asked to bring their own cleats, shin guards and water. 

Union's MacMath and Hernandez training in Europe

Union Goalkeeper Zac MacMath and forward Cristhian Hernandez will continue to hone their skills in the offseason with European clubs in England’s Barclay’s Premier League and Spain’s La Liga.  MacMath and Hernandez will depart today for three week training stints with Everton and Real Sociedad, respectively.

For the third straight year, MacMath will travel to Everton to train alongside U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard.  The fifth overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, MacMath, 21, stepped in as the Union’s starting ‘keeper this season, earning eight shutouts and a 68.9 save percentage in 2880 minutes.  He also posted the second longest scoreless streak in the League this season, going 408 minutes without allowing a goal.

Signed as the Union’s third Homegrown Player on March 5, 2011, Hernandez saw action in two matches for the club as a rookie.  The 19-year-old registered one shot in 26 minutes of action.

Wings bring back Westervelt, three others

The Philadelphia Wings announced on Friday the re-signing of their leading goal scorer from last season, Drew Westervelt, as well as three other players, to one-year contracts.

A University of Maryland product, Westervelt rippled the net 38 times last year, totaling 57 points.

Six-time league champions, the Wings will open the 2013 season -- their 27th in indoor lacrosse -- at home against the Buffalo Bandits at Wells Fargo Center on January 11.

Four burning questions, Part IV

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Searching for different ways to approach the issue of the current lockout, the brain trust at the Phanatic decided to canvas fellow colleagues for their thoughts on how the labor battles of 1994-95, 2004-05 and now 2012 have colored their perspective on the game of hockey from their time as fans to their status as credentialed professionals.

Joining us for the final Friday in this four-part series, once again, is  Dan DiSciullo, hockey editor at The Sports Network, Josh Janet from, and Matt Brigidi from The Checking Line and SB Nation. I thank everyone for their time and insight.

Issue #4: Now that you have become "professionals," and are covering the NHL from an insider's perspective rather than a fan's perspective, what do you want to say to new, or casual or long-time fans who have issues with the way labor problems have interrupted the course of the league over the last 8 years?

DiSciullo: I think it's easy for those of us who work in this business to become jaded about the sport, especially when we've followed these recent labor battles so closely. We search for the slightest glimpse of optimism when often there is none to be found and that process takes a toll on our fandom.

The advent of Twitter and social media allows us to obsess over the current lockout pretty much anytime we want. Although I think that type of constant coverage can be bad, there is at least an outlet for the disgruntled fans to vent their frustrations and to connect with people who actually work in the business.

However, social media is only effective up to a point. During this labor battle it's served as more of a sounding board than an instrument of influence or change. That is why I'd remind fans that there is only one way they can ensure their displeasure gets through to the league and players and that's by not showing up whenever the NHL gets back on the ice. I understand that people miss hockey and will likely offer their support at some point, but if that support is unconditional then there is little doubt we'll be talking about another lockout sometime in the near future. Simple as that.

Whenever the lockout ends -- whether that's next week, next month or next year -- don't jump immediately from anger to joy. Remember that for months and months while millionaires and billionaires squabbled over percentages, your opinions and concerns were not considered by either side. Now, I have serious doubts that people will actually form a boycott effective enough to get the NHL's attention, but I do believe that's the only way for fans to help prevent another lockout from happening.

      Janet:   I think it is worthwhile for fans to recognize during these negotiations that the owners do care about the sport, in spite of what may be written by some players and members of the media (*cough*LarryBrooks*cough*).  My “insider” experience has been limited to the Philadelphia Flyers, but the organization has invested a tremendous amount of resources into the fan, player and media experience and I doubt that it’s all that different around the league.

Take five minutes to browse the web site for the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation and you’ll understand just how far that love of the sport goes.

If you’re bummed that the NHL is on hiatus, I recommend using this time to catch up on the various other leagues around the region, country, continent and globe.  The puck is dropped somewhere around the world every day, so go ahead and explore. If you need to see hockey up close, I also recommend heading to a Trenton Titans game. The arena provides a family-friendly experience and the on-ice product is fantastic, now that some of the AHL talent has made its way onto the roster.

Brigidi: I wouldn't venture to say that I'm an "insider" in the true sense of the term. I only know what I know about the lockout by reading what the actual insiders write. 

Ultimately, I think everyone is open to their own opinion in terms of the lockouts. Yes, they suck and they're a horrible part of the sport that hurts a lot of people. I view it as something that I don't fully understand at this point in my life and reserve judgement because I don't know what an owner or player needs to put up with in order to formulate their opinions, to defend their respective viewpoints. Their money and talent is theirs alone to do with what they will, whether it's the owners' ability to excel in big business or the players' ability with a puck.

However, if the NHL and NHLPA don't manage to resolve their issues and find a way to achieve extended labor peace, I don't know how many people will continue to care about their talents or business acumen. 

Herpen: Remember two things: sports are a business above all else, and don't let that kill your love of the game -- because the game can be found in so many other places than in the 30 special venues across North America.

Your love for your favorite team, your anger over the fact that there might be two lost NHL seasons in such a short period of time, and the constant push and pull over mainstream and social media which won't really tell you anything at all, in the grand scheme means little if you don't keep your own way to separate fandom from life. It should be this way in the best and worst of times.

Fans of any stripe have a great opportunity right now, to soak up the atmosphere of the sport wherever they may be: with their spouses and kids fending off the chill of early-morning rink times, following their sons and daughters playing collegiately, learning about the college and minor-league games and going on road trips to college and minor-pro destinations, along with myriad stops in between in the U.S. and Canada where the culture of hockey exists beyond your own rooting interest. If you do so, you'll get a sharper idea of what your (least) favorite NHLers are fighting for, why they want to make millions playing a game that soaked deep into their bones at all levels up to the Show.

Nobody really has true insight into the business machinations of either the league or the players union, and we most likely will never know until years down the line no matter what happens from this point forward. Still, don't let things that are out of your control mute your passion for this sport and everything that comes with it.

Final thoughts: Unless there are things so well hidden within the cabinet rooms of Manhattan and Toronto regarding the bargaining process that will eventually lead to consensus, the fact that Bill Daly and Steve Fehr, the proxies for the NHL and NHLPA, are stuck spouting the rhetoric once limited to their bosses, it leads one to think this season is pretty well doomed.

As revealed by Renaud Lavoie from RDS of Canada, Fehr bloviated on Thursday:

"Of course everyone on the players' side wants to reach an agreement. The players have offered the owners concessions worth a billion dollars. What exactly have the owners offered the players? We believe that it is more likely that we will make progress if we don't. So we are ready to meet. If indeed they do not want to meet, it will be at least the third time in the last three months that they do not want to meet, it will be at least the third time in the last three months that they have shut down the dialogue, saying they will have shut down the dialogue, saying they will not meet unless the players meet their preconditions.  What does that tell you about their interest in resolving this?"

And Daly was portrayed in "Sad Bill" meme fashion, lamenting over the weight of his own pessimistic thoughts about saving or chucking the whole season: ""I hope not. But I'm more discouraged now than I have been at any point in the process."

So, in the midst of all this, Gary Bettman proposes a two-week break, as if the "right moment" to strike a deal described by Fehr earlier in the week, may come about after both sides cool their jets in neutral corners? Plus, players have missed their third paycheck as of yesterday and even the ones who haven't fled for Europe -- as far as we're told -- aren't exactly breaking down Don Fehr's door to offer ideas on how to fashion a new CBA.

Pardon me while I choke back some laughter. It's still a fool's game, and fans still only have themselves on their side.

Perhaps the real reality of the two-month stalemate prevented anyone other than former Islanders scribe Chris Botta to reveal on Wednesday night, that unless the union agrees to the league's last proposal by Thanksgiving Eve, the NHL will have no choice but to blow up half of December. It's not hard to extrapolate what the next arbitrary deadline will be, and the one after that, and the terminal one after that.

This is the point at which both sides are teetering over the Marianas Trench, watching to see if the other will fall to the abyss. With that much pressure and that much depth, the kicker is neither side, or both, will end up sinking into oblivion -- and still nothing will be accomplished.

That said, I keep getting recommendations to see "Skyfall," the new James Bond flick. I pass that along to my readers as a distraction until the tryptophan in our Thursday turkeys turns into the lotus of ancient times. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Locked out NHLers to play in AC for Hurricane Sandy relief

Breaking news not lockout related from The twitter feed of Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly:

"Scott Hartnell, Brad Richards, Dan Carcillo et al will be in Atlantic City, Sat, Nov. 24 for 'Operation Hat Trick' game for Sandy Relief ...This charity game sponsored by Caesar's Hotel Casino."

Panaccio additionally reported later on Thursday that Kimmo Timonen, along with former Flyers James van Riemsdyk and Simon Gagne will attend, as will South Jersey native and Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan.

Here's the full scoop from the veteran scribe.

Say what you want about the players involved, the nobility of the cause, and the money that's backing the venture, but if the game is contested at Boardwalk Hall, expect there to be roughly 10 times more cash raised than actual attendance. That's especially true when tickets are going for anywhere between $20 and $100 a pop, because, you!

In fact, editorially speaking, don't even go. Just send the money, which, as usual, is only supposed to wind up in the hands of the American Red Cross and other entities geared specifically towards Sandy relief. You'll thank me for saving you an hour-plus trip.

The venerable venue played like an echo chamber at best, a mausoleum at worst when the Boardwalk Bullies of the ECHL skated there from 2001-05. Last year's AHL All-Star festivities fell with a thud, atmospherically-speaking, due to the total lack of spirit as a hockey arena.

Monday, November 12, 2012

College hockey round-up, Week 5

The defending champion Boston College Eagles maintained their perch atop the Division I standings in unanimous fashion thanks to another successful weekend, sweeping a pair of contests against marquee opponents.

In a prelude to the gridiron Holy War, BC and then-No. 7 Notre Dame squared off at Conte Forum, with the hosts taking away a 3-1 victory. South Jersey native and sophomore forward Johnny Gaudreau netted a pair of goals while Parker Milner turned away 19-of-20 shots.

Less than 48 hours later, the Birds rolled into Agganis Arena and dealt the rival BU Terriers -- then ranked 11th overall -- a 4-2 defeat, which set several milestones: the 100th victory for the current senior class, and the 50th in the career of Milner, the senior backstop who made 25 saves and was named Hockey East  defensive player of the week. Destry Straight opened the scoring 43 seconds in and Gaudreau added another tally and for his three-goal weekend, was tabbed top overall player of the week.

“Certainly it’s a really big weekend from our perspective," BC head coach Jerry York said. "Of course this is our chief rival, but Notre Dame also is a pretty big rival of ours. We looked at the weekend and thought this was gonna test us a little bit, and it certainly did. I’m very aware that we could’ve lost both games. Both teams that we played were excellent teams.”

With eight wins in a row, York's charges have improved to 8-1-0 on the year and have won a staggering 27 of their last 28 games stretching back to last January. There are at least two league matchups remaining with the possibility of a Beanpot clash and Hockey East tournament meeting between the Commonwealth Avenue campuses.

“They’re very similar to us in many ways, as far as age, class," said Terriers head coach Jack Parker. "We have a bigger freshman class this year than they do. You look at their first two lines, they are two terrific first lines. It’s hard to determine who’s the number one line. … We’ll see them again later on. This game will make us grow up. This game will help us. Either way, this game was gonna help us. I thought we hung in there and played pretty well against the number one team in the nation.”

Boston University failed to capitalize on the momentum gained in a 3-1 victory at Merrimack on Friday evening.

The Warriors, perpetually trying to muscle in on the territory staked out by BC, BU, Maine and New Hampshire within Hockey East, feature a pair of local kids who flew under the radar: freshman forwards Bryan Christie (from West Chester, PA) and Vinny Scotti (hailing from Vineland, NJ). They look to follow in the footsteps of Vince Clevenger, also out of West Chester, who played in North Andover from 1997-2001.

Back onto the local D-I scene, Penn State continued its early-season success, by splitting a pair at the 'Peg against Air Force. In the opener on Friday, the Falcons stunned the hosts with a 5-1 victory. Five different goal scorers punctured PSU netminder P.J. Musico, with Justin Kirchhevel netted the lone marker -- which happened to be the school's first-ever short-handed tally.

One day later, the script and result was flipped in a positive decision for the Nits. AFA goaltender Jason Trof was blitzed by five different Nittany Lions scorers (Casey Bailey, Luke Juha, David Glen, Michael McDonagh and Connor Varley) while Matt Skoff came up with 31 saves.

Here's PSU head coach Guy Gadowsky after Saturday's win:

At 6-3-0, the boys in Blue will rest for this coming weekend and head to upstate New York for a pair of ECAC tussles against last season's Frozen Four entrant Union College on November 24 and 25. 

The only other Orange and Black still on the ice near Philadelphia, the Princeton Tigers used the comforts of home to pick up two wins against Ivy League foes.

On Friday, against No. 4 Cornell, Rob Kleebaum, Andrew Calof and Andrew Ammon tallied inside the final five minutes to erase a one-goal deficit and get the hosts a 5-3 decision. On Saturday afternoon, it was defense and goaltending at the forefront, as senior netminder Mike Condon turned away 22 shots in a 4-0 victory over Colgate. Mike Ambrosia, Michael Zajac, Tyler Maugeri and Michael Sdao turned on the red light at Baker Rink.

Princeton heads to upstate New York to play back-to-back games this weekend with St. Lawrence and Clarkson.

As for the remainder of the rankings, Denver and Minnesota flip-flopped after the Pioneers swept Minnesota State (4-3, 3-2) and the Gophers won (4-0) and tied (2-2) in Anchorage. Miami of Ohio moved up one slot to fourth after a win and tie (5-2, 2-2) over Northern Michigan. New Hampshire surged from 9th to 5th spot by blanking Vermont, 4-0. Previously fourth-ranked Cornell slid all the way down to 10th with losses to Princeton and Quinnipiac.

Dartmouth and Nebraska-Omaha entered the top 20 at 12 and 18, respectively. The Mavericks returned to form with victories of 3-2 and 6-3 against Minnesota-Duluth on Homecoming weekend. Flyers goaltending prospect Anthony Stolarz continues to be sidelined in favor of John Faulkner, who picked up a pair of wins in net.