Monday, September 30, 2013

John McMullen joins The Sports Fix to talk Browns upset over the Bengals, other NFL news

MO Radio Show on Sports w/NFL Insider John McMullen

Entire Ohio State team lines up to hug anchor after his daughter's death in car accident

Phils wave goodbye to Dubee

PHILADELPHIA - As expected, the Phillies have begun to change the coaching staff under new manager Ryne Sandberg and declined to renew the contract of pitching coach Rich Dubee on Monday.

Dubee spent the past nine seasons as the club's pitching coach, helping the franchise to its second World Series title in 2008 and an NL pennant the following year.

"Rich was a big part of a wonderful era here and in his nine years he served our organization very well," said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. "We believe it is time for a change as we move forward. We thank Rich for his professionalism and contribution to the Phillies.

Dubee's tenure as pitching coach matched the longest in club history, as Cy Perkins held the position from 1946-54 and Ray Rippelmeyer did so from 1970-78.

John McMullen on TSN 690 talking NFL Week 4

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sixers bring in frontcourt help

PHILADELPHIA – With second-year power forward Arnett Moultrie and rookie Nerlens Noel  sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Sixers needed bodies up front and the team signed free agents Solomon Alabi  and Nayal “Mac” Koshwal. 

Alabi (7-foot-1, 250) was originally the 50th overall pick by Dallas in the 2010 NBA Draft before his rights were traded to Toronto.  The 25-year-old played two seasons for the Raptors in 2010-11 and 2011-12. 

Last season, Alabi played for the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League and Ikaros Chalkidas of the Greek League.  Alabi was an early entry candidate following his sophomore season at Florida State, during which he averaged 12 points, six rebounds and over two blocks.  The Nigerian-born Alabi was twice named to the ACC All-Defensive Team as a sophomore and a redshirt freshman.

Koshwal (6-foot-10, 255) was an early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft following his junior season at DePaul, during which he averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.  The Sudanese-born Koshwal was one of three BIG EAST players to average a double-double that season.  Last season, the 25-year-old competed in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas before spending time on several minor league teams.

Union pick up big win in K.C.

Kansas City (Sept. 27, 2013) – In a gritty road performance, Philadelphia Union (11-10-9, 42 points) defeated Sporting Kansas City, 1-0 Friday night at Sporting Park to move back into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. A first-half goal from forward Conor Casey and an MLS-best 11th shutout from goalkeeper Zac MacMath was enough to give the visitors the win on the night.

Winless since August, and on the outside looking in at the playoffs, the Union quieted its naysayers with the victory at Sporting Park, a place the club has never won and against a team it only had only defeated once entering the match.

A patient Union side waited for a chance to pounce and in the 36th minute, forward Conor Casey rewarded a scintillating run and ball into the box down the right flank from Danny Cruz, as Casey thumped a loose ball from point blank rage past Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.

The goal snapped a 345 minute scoring streak for the Union and put Casey tied for the team lead in goals alongside fellow forward Jack McInerney with 10. Additionally, the win moved the Union from the seventh spot in the East and back into playoff contention as they improved to 11-10-9 (42 points) on the season.

“The put us under a lot of pressure for good chunks of the game,” Casey said postgame. “But I thought we defended quite well, especially our back four. It was just really a great team defensive effort…it’s just a huge three points for us and something we really needed at this point in the season.”

The Union withstood a barrage of Sporting (14-10-6, 48 points) attacks and counterattacks with a commanding physical defensive presence. It almost appeared as if the Union’s physicality was unexpected by a Kansas City team that was looking for a win to chase the pack in the race for the MLS Supporters Shield, given to the team with the best regular season record. While they got their chances, the Union was excellent in keeping Sporting guns Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber, Jacob Peterson and C.J. Sapong in check for the full 90 minutes.

“Playing here is incredibly difficult,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “We were up against a really good opponent tonight and we were fortunate, but you can see our fight and we were pretty tough and resilient all the way through.”

The man of this match for the Union had to be the play of Zac MacMath, who dialed in to the tune of five saves and picked up his league leading 11th shutout of the season. In this match, it was less about parrying away shots that were on target but keeping lofted balls and driven crosses into his 18-yard box away from the back of his net.

A task the 22-year-old was clearly up to on this night.

“I really didn’t see too many shots on goal, but I think the team had to sit-in as Kansas City just bombed balls into the box,” said MacMath. “The defense did really well just heading balls away and keeping everything clear…I will say that the first 30 minutes weren’t the way we planned them to go, but anytime you can get a goal in the first half, you give yourself a chance to win.”

A true statement from MacMath, as his club improved to 7-0-2 this season in league play when taking the lead into half.

The physical nature of this one didn’t come without consequences however. Hackworth noted postgame that Cruz, who left the match in the 58th minute suffered a “hamstring tweak,” which gave Hackworth concerns on whether or not he’ll be good to go for next Saturday’s match against Toronto FC at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., The Comcast Network). Additionally, there was some concern over the health of right back Sheanon Williams, who gave up plenty of his body to preserve this win.

It was a night in which the Union proved that there is definitely still plenty of fight in the dog.
Now it’s time ensure it can be replicated over the next four weeks.

“We have four more games left and we still have to win at least two more games,” said Casey. “We know where we are at and tonight was a big win, it’s just important that we carry the win like this brings into next week and go after three points at home next week.

Philadelphia Union 1, Sporting Kansas City 0
Friday, Sept. 27, 8 p.m. ET
Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan.

PHI: Casey (Daniel), 17’

SKC: Rosell (caution), 34’
PHI: Carroll (caution), 70’
SKC: Feilhaber (caution), 74’
PHI: Williams (caution) 82’
SKC: Opara (caution) 89’

MacMath, Williams (McInerney 83’), Okugo, Parke, Gaddis, Carroll, Lahoud, Fabinho, M. Farfan, Cruz (Le Toux 58’), Casey (Wheeler 67’).

Substitutes not used: Nikolov, Torres, Fernandes, Hoppenot.

Nielsen, Collin, Sinovic, Opara, Collin, Myers, Feilhaber (Joseph 75’), Bosell, Zusi, Sapong, Dwyer (Bieler 66), Peterson (Saad 45’).

Substitutes not used: Gardner, Besler, Kronberg, Olum.

Caps trip up Flyers in exhibition finale

Alex Ovechkin netted a pair of power-play goals and Eric Fehr added two tallies, as Washington downed Philadelphia, 6- 3, in preseason action Friday night at Verizon Center.

Tom Wilson and Mathieu Perreault also lit the lamp for the Capitals, who take on the Blackhawks Saturday in their exhibition finale, and then begin the season at Chicago on Tuesday.

Michal Neuvirth stopped 32 shots for the win.

Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell scored in the second period for the Flyers, who open up their regular season by hosting Toronto next Wednesday.

Ray Emery allowed five goals on 35 shots in the setback, leaving Philadelphia 1-5-1 in its seven-game September tune-ups.

The Flyers and Capitals won't meet until November 1 in Philadelphia, playing against each other for the first time as division rivals since the end of the 1997-98 season when both clubs were in the original Atlantic Division.

Wilson snuck behind Braydon Coburn at the right post to tap home a Mikhail Grabovski feed for a 3-0 Caps edge at 11:41 of the middle frame, but the visitors snapped to attention with three in a row before the buzzer.

First, Giroux beat Neuvirth between the arm and body off a one-timer from Matt Read at 14:05, Hartnell stayed glued to the left post to tap in a Sean Couturier feed on a power play 77 seconds later, and Simmonds tied it with 1:10 left when he was credited with the poke in the crease that got through a mass of bodies.

Fehr beat Emery from the left side on his own rebound 1:35 into the third, Ovechkin ripped a one-timer on the advantage at 4:13 and Perreault hit the empty net to seal it.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Extra Points: Pedigree only thing saving Bradford in St. Louis |

Extra Points: Pedigree only thing saving Bradford in St. Louis |

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Josh Freeman was benched this week in
Tampa and you get the distinct feeling that plenty of people in Minnesota
aren't all that disheartened by Christian Ponder's broken ribs, a convenient
injury which happens to open the door for the far more competent Matt Cassel.

Freeman and Ponder are hardly the only quarterbacks in the NFL who should be
fearing for their long-term job security but at least one who should be firing
up the laptop to update the resume -- St. Louis' Sam Bradford -- need not

Bradford is being saved by his draft position as the last No. 1 overall pick
under the old CBA -- a position which meant a massive rookie contract and the
inability to easily cut ties with a mistake.

Well, that and the fact there is no legitimate alternative for the Rams.

The pedestrian Kellen Clemens is the current backup quarterback for the Rams
and probably the most popular man in all of St. Louis today after Bradford's
latest laughable attempt to play the position during a 35-11 fiasco of a game
against NFC West rival San Francisco on Thursday night.

Bradford finished 19-for-41 for 202 yards with one touchdown and one
interception for the Rams (1-3), who have dropped their past three after
opening the season with a victory.

"Obviously as a football team, we have a lot to work on considering what's
happened the last five days," Rams head coach Jeff Fisher understated. "I have
faith in this football team and we're going to get this fixed."

Not with Bradford under center.

Apologists can fall on their swords all they want for Bradford and to be fair,
it's hard to look like Peyton Manning on play-action when Daryl Richardson and
Benny Cunningham are running it for 22 yards on 16 carries.

But, pointing to things like that or the unimaginative offense of Brian
Schottenheimer or a mediocre offensive line or the fact highly-touted rookie
Tavon Austin doesn't have a clue how to run a route doesn't mask the fact that
Bradford is regressing at a rapid rate.

In fact, give this guy Adrian Peterson in the backfield along with Calvin
Johnson, Julio Jones and Jimmy Graham to throw to and I'm still not sure he
would look anything like a franchise quarterback.

Being a great signal caller in the NFL is similar to being an ace pitcher who
doesn't have his best stuff on a particular night. You find a way to grind
through things no matter who is stationed around you.

Take a look at Tom Brady in New England this season. You can make a strong
argument that "Tom Terrific" has fewer weapons at his disposal than Bradford
yet still has the Patriots at 3-0 heading into Sunday night's matchup in

At times you can see Brady wants to pound his head against a wall but he finds
a way to make it work with Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson.

Bradford, on the other hand, is now 16-29-1 as a starter and his confidence is
eroding more rapidly than the New Jersey shoreline.

In fact, one of the major reasons Schottenheimer's offense looks more
conservative than Sean Hannity stems from the fact that Bradford checks down
everything at the first sign of trouble and refuses to take a peek at any
vertical routes because his accuracy when throwing the football down the field
is virtually non-existent.

Against the 49ers Bradford averaged a pitiful 4.93 yards per attempt and that
was against a group missing Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis.

"Tomorrow's going to be a pretty tough day in the film room," Bradford said
after the game. "The good news is we have 10 days, 11 days until we play again
and there's going to be ample time to get that corrected."

Anyone see this getting corrected anytime soon in a division with the Niners
and Seattle Seahawks?

St. Louis already opened up the Brink's Truck in the offseason for left tackle
Jake Long and tight end Jared Cook, and then traded up to draft Austin in
order to speed up Bradford's development.

Now those same players are being thrown under the bus as sacrifices to some
twisted altar of pedigree.

A pedigree which shows no signs of morphing into performance.

Sixers announce signings of Morris and Wyatt, 3 others

PHILADELPHIA – The 76ers unveiled their training camp roster in preparation for the 2013-14 NBA season. 

In conjunction with the start of training camp, the Sixers announced the signings of five players, including former Lakers guard Darius Morris as well as ex-Temple star Khalif Wyatt.

Darius Morris (6-foot-4, 195) was the 41st overall pick by the L.A. Lakers in the 2011 NBA Draft. In two seasons with the Lakers, Morris appeared in 67 games with 17 starts.  During the Lakers First Round series vs. San Antonio in the 2013 playoffs, Morris averaged 11 points and three assists in 26 minutes per game. Morris entered the NBA Draft as an early entry candidate after his sophomore season at Michigan, where he averaged 10 points and five assists en route to earning All-Big Ten Third Team honors.

Khalif Wyatt (6-foot-4, 205) is a rookie from Temple and was eligible for the 2013 NBA Draft following his senior season, during which he averaged 20 points, four assists, three rebounds and nearly two steals en route to earning Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors.  The Norristown native played for the Sixers in the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League, averaging a team-high 14 points along with three assists and over a steal and a half per game.

Vander Blue (6-foot-4, 200) is a rookie from Marquette and was an early entry candidate for the 2013 NBA Draft following his junior season, during which he averaged 15 points, three rebounds and two assists en route to earning All-BIG EAST Second Team honors.  Blue increased his scoring average, along with his field goal, three-point and free throw percentage across each of his three collegiate seasons.  He averaged 12 points and nearly six rebounds in the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League.

Hollis Thompson (6-foot-8, 206) is a rookie from Georgetown and was an early entry candidate for the 2012 NBA Draft following his junior season, during which he averaged 13 points and nearly six rebounds en route to earning All-BIG EAST honorable mention.  Last season, he played for the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, averaging eight points and four rebounds.

Rodney Williams (6-foot-7, 205) is a rookie from Minnesota and was eligible for the 2013 NBA Draft following his senior season, during which he averaged 10 points, five rebounds and two assists.  He also shot over 51 percent from the floor for his collegiate career.  Williams averaged eight points, two assists and a block and a half per game in the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League, while playing for the Sixers’ Summer League team.

Training camp will take place at Saint Joseph’s University’s Hagan Arena beginning tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 28, and runs through Wednesday, Oct. 2.



NO.    NAME    POS.    HT.    WT.    DOB    Prior to NBA/Home Country    YEARS PRO
00    Spencer Hawes    C    7-1    245    4/28/88    Washington/USA    6
1    Michael Carter-Williams    G    6-6    185    10/10/91    Syracuse/USA    R
4    Nerlens Noel    C    6-11    228    4/10/94    Kentucky/USA    R
5    Arnett Moultrie    F    6-10    240    11/18/90    Mississippi State/USA    1
7    Darius Morris    G    6-4    195    1/3/91    Michigan/USA    2
8    Tony Wroten    G    6-6    205    4/13/93    Washington/USA    1
9    James Anderson    G    6-6    210    3/25/89    Oklahoma State/USA    3
11    Khalif Wyatt    G    6-4    205    6/10/91    Temple/USA    R
12    Evan Turner    G-F    6-7    216    10/27/88    Ohio State/USA    3
17    Vander Blue    G    6-4    200    7/17/92    Marquette/USA    R
20    Tim Ohlbrecht    F-C    6-11    240    8/30/88    Skyliners Frankfurt/Germany    1
21    Thaddeus Young    F    6-8    230    6/21/88    Georgia Tech/USA    6
23    Jason Richardson    G    6-6    225    1/20/81    Michigan State/USA    12
30    Royce White    F    6-8    260    4/10/91    Iowa State/USA    1
31    Hollis Thompson    G-F    2-8    206    4/3/91    Georgetown/USA    R
33    Rodney Williams    G-F    6-7    205    7/23/91    Minnesota/USA    R
50    Lavoy Allen    F-C    6-9    255    2/4/89    Temple/USA    2
54    Kwame Brown    C    6-11    290    3/10/82    Glynn Academy HS (GA)/USA    12

Unofficial depth chart:

PG: Michael Carter-Willliams, Darius Morris
SG: Tony Wroten, , James Anderson, Khalif Wyatt, Vander Blue, Jason Richardon (injured)
SF: Evan Turner, Rodney Williams, Hollis Thompson
PF: Thaddeus Young, Lavoy Allen, Royce White, Arnett Moultrie (injured)
C: Spencer Hawes, Kwame Brown, Tim Ohlbrecht, Nerlens Nowl (injured)

Rafflcopter, Great Dane head North

At least one half of the burning "who will get the final roster spot as a forward" question has been answered. On Friday afternoon, the Flyers announced that Michael Raffl was assigned to the Adirondack Phantoms.

Despite neither Raffl nor Scott Laughton apparently distinguishing themselves for a spot in the NHL for the first game next Wednesday, the Austrian winger was the first to be shipped up to Glens Falls. The club is expected to make their final roster transactions by Sunday.

Also heading up I-87 will be defenseman Oliver Lauridsen, who had distinguished himself with a strong end to last season.

You get the feeling this won't be the last we'll see of either player in Philadelphia this season.

Sixers' Moultrie out after ankle surgery

PHILADELPHIA - The Sixers have announced that forward Arnett Moultrie suffered an injury to the medial malleolus of his left ankle last week and underwent surgery on Thursday.

The second-year pro is not expected back in the lineup until some time in the new year.

Moultrie appeared in 47 games last season, averaging 3.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

The Sixers also announced on Friday that center Kwame Brown, who suffered a right hamstring strain during offseason workouts, will seek a second opinion on the injury.

Brown appeared in 22 games, starting 11 times, with the Sixers last season and averaged 1.9 points and 3.4 rebounds.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

NHL 14 Review

The latest installment of EA's fast-paced hockey series brings balance to both hardcore and casual gamers alike

By JJ Miller

Hockey has always toed the line of popularity in North America, attempting to balance hardcore ice junkies with the casual fans who want to see hitting, hits, more hits and fighting.

NHL 14 does its best to draw in both types of fans, offering deep simulation with a mix of the rough stuff.

The biggest example comes in the collision physics, developed along the same lines of that which powers the popular FIFA series. EA made sure that the hits are big and painful, but also accurate. Large players deliver bone crushing hits -- when timed and lined up just right -- while the little pests knock opposing players off balance and jar the puck loose.

Out of the box, the heavy hits and amount of fighting are above average for your normal NHL game, something sure to pull in casual fans. But for those who crave the accurate jousts, the hardcore simulation setting is a must and the sliders may need adjustment.

Speaking of fighting, NHL 14 delivers the impressive enforcer engine. Powered by EA Sports Fight Night technology, the new enforcer engine does away with the third-person button-mashing brawls and introduces a slightly zoomed dance between the two combatants. Fights can either happen off the draw, by instigating during or after the play, or your could be forced into a confrontation after delivering a big hit to a star player.

In a nice touch, players not involved stay live during the fight, so you'll see teammates pairing off and jousting with the other team or just gliding around the brawl.

Fights begin either already grappled or in a standing premeditated style. Players must time their punches and grabs or risk leaving themselves exposed for the big blow.

This nice upgrade adds another element to the game, but of course you are likely to see more fighting in an average game now.

On the ice, the AI is still shaky at times and it can be frustrating. Teammates often have little mustard on their pass and shot attempts and take odd routes in bringing the puck into the zone. Defenders also seem to struggle when the puck is carried across the middle, leaving goaltenders high and dry.

Garbage goals, though, seem to come in fewer bunches.

Another odd quirk, aside from the fact that the season modes do not include the names of the new divisions, is the fact that the computer-controlled players often times turn their back to the play along the boards when they have the puck, resulting in a lot of boarding penalties for aggressive players.

In another attempt to balance the hardcore and causal fan, EA put in one-touch dekes. While past gamers were able to pull off dazzling moves by rotating analog sticks with brain-wracking combos, the less talented can now use the bumper button and left stick to pull off dekes, if the player has the skill level.

True performance skating sees some upgrades in its second year in the NHL franchise. New animations are packaged and the game continues to nail down the aspects of balance, lateral skating and acceleration for an authentic feel.

GM modes return as does the Be a Pro career mode, but now under the title "Live the Life." This puts players into the role of either an existing or created player and has them control on and off-the-ice aspects of being a professional hockey player.

Players are given the choice of starting in junior leagues, at the draft or in the AHL/NHL like previous games, but NHL 14 introduces a relationship meter with fans, teammates, management and family. Positive ratings in these categories have a good influence on attributes, on-ice behavior and the cash/money, while a lower rating has negative effects, so Sean Avery wannabe's can beware.

Influences come in the form of media interviews, either pregame, postgame or when a roster move happens, as well as endorsement deals and off-ice interactions with teammates and families.

While the mode is certainly appealing, it does need work. Interviews and events offer four choices and some are just so ridiculous that no one in their right mind would make that choice. Expanded options would certainly keep these events fresh as they can become repetitive as well.

HUT and EASHL online seasons are also an option and offer a sort of Euro soccer style tier. Win and move onto tougher divisions; lose and get bumped down to lesser opponents.

The cherry on top of this game is the NHL 94 Anniversary mode.

EA celebrates its most popular and cult-followed edition of the game with a throwback mode of the game that puts the current physics and rosters onto the famous blue ice of the '94 game. Retro stars under the players, music and other options give a nod to the past and offers a more arcade style of play.

It's a one-trick pony for sure, but it is certainly a mode that will see tons of older gamers sit down and enjoy for hours with friends, though the mode is offline only.

NHL 14 may feature New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur on the cover, but his year's edition is all about the hits and physical play of the game. It is by no means a must-own, but is certainly worthy of a pick up if it has been a few years since you last played the franchise.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Obscure Flyers profile: Jan Hlavac

Thanks to Flyers History
by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor 

If the Philadelphia Flyers ever engaged in hockey's version of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, in one special case there's only a single degree of space between two giants of their times: Eric Lindros and Donald Brashear.

A former member of the Czech Line with the New York Rangers which was also comprised of Petr Nedved and Radek Dvorak, Jan Hlavac came to Broad Street in the blockbuster deal of August 20, 2001, seeing Lindros head to Broadway in exchange for defenseman Kim Johnsson and forward prospect Pavel Brendl.

The 73 days and nights of Hlavac in Orange and Black ended on December 17, when the winger was sent packing to the other end of the continent for the truculent Brashear who made his mark with his fists for the Canucks.

To ease his transition from Rangers blue to Philly's Halloween duds, Hlavac was made right at "home," paired with Brendl and Jiri "the best player in the world not in the NHL" Dopita on an all-Czech line towards the end of the preseason.

"What you're seeing is talent," Flyers head coach Bill Barber said to the Inquirer on the eve of the 2001-02 regular season. "It was all-Canadian at one time in the U.S. Does it really matter? You're a Flyer. You could be a Canadian, a Czech, a Finn, a Swede. . . . People are still going to like our team."

Things never seemed to click for the 25-year-old, however. It took three games to register his first goal of the year, then a five-game goal drought followed as he was shuffled back and forth between lines. He went scoreless in games where he led all players in shots (6 on 10/13 vs. FLA in a 5-2 win; 5 on 11/8/01 vs. TB in a 2-1 victory) and also twice put on a red light in disappointing Flyer losses (10/25 in a 7-2 loss vs. OTT and 11/14 in a 4-2 loss at NYR).

Hlavac's "finest" performance here came on a somber day for the franchise. His lone multi-goal effort -- scoring twice to fuel a three-goal second period in a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on December 8 -- occurred shortly before Barber revealed to the public that his wife, Jenny, succumbed to cancer after a long and brave fight.

That burst of offense came after a seven-game slump which passed without a point, on the heels of an earlier six-game scoreless string.

It might not have been a surprise that, nine days later, the club decided to spin the wheel again. Blessed with plenty of forwards but little spit and grit, Clarke shipped Hlavac off to Vancouver for Brashear.

"I'm shocked," Hlavac said to Tim Panaccio that day. "I guess they expected a different guy. I tried to do my best. I was surprised they put me [on a line] with Mark Recchi for two games. Now I think they wanted to showcase me [for a trade]."

Hlavac failed to solve a goaltender in his final four games with Philadelphia and registered only one assist. He logged a little more than 11 minutes of ice time in a 3-2 home loss to Edmonton on December 16. All told, seven goals and 10 points in 31 games.

As fate and the schedule-makers would have it, Brashear, Hlavac, the Flyers and Canucks crossed paths exactly two weeks later in the last of a series of New Year's Eve games between the clubs. Neither player registered a point in a 2-1 Philly win, cemented when Simon Gagne scored with three seconds left in regulation.

Hlavac managed three more NHL seasons, bouncing between Vancouver, Carolina, another stint with the Rangers, then three years in Europe before coming back in 2007 and suiting up for the Lightning and Predators. Since 2008, Hlavac has split his time between the Czech Extraliga and Swedish Elite League, going for 15 goals and 28 points in 50 games with Kladno and Vaxjo last season.

This concludes our preseason slate. Be sure to head back and check out the first three obscure profiles. Come by this weekend for my 2013-14 Flyers season preview, then stay in October and throughout the season for more AHL, college and NHL news, views and game recaps.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Giroux returns, Voracek exits; Flyers lose to Devils

Claude Giroux finally hit the ice after a long layoff recovering from that freak golf injury which managed to cause a lacerated tendon in one of his fingers, but once the initial euphoria wore off at the WFC, there was hockey to be played.

Cory Schneider finally did manage to give up a goal, but that was all, as the Devils clipped the Flyers by a 2-1 count on Tuesday.

"Yeah, it was a pretty good shot by a pretty good player. Other than that I thought our team did a really great job blocking shots," the former Vancouver back-up admitted. "Some of the guys were blocking shots like it was April, it was great to see. The start we had, (we needed to) settle in and hang onto that lead.”

Marek Zidlicky and Mike Sislo did the offensive damage for New Jersey, and Schneider also kept up his end of the bargain by stopping Jakub Voracek on a penalty shot -- one of his 22 saves -- in the second period.

Voracek eventually left the game with what the club termed the dreaded "upper-body injury" and the visitors threw their usual blanket over the Orange and Black until Kimmo Timonen's power-play strike with 91 seconds remaining in regulation.

Ray Emery stopped 17 shots in the loss.

"I think I’m ten days away from ready for the regular season, is that what we have left? But it’s getting as sharp as you can before the season starts," the 2013 Cup champion admitted.

The Flyers, who were coming off a week-long retreat in Lake Placid, didn't play with a full roster and fell to 1-3-1 during their exhibition slate, which continues on Thursday against these same Devils at Prudential Center in Newark.

Giroux, who picked up an assist on the hosts' late tally, led all Flyers forward in ice time at 22:04. He also won 9-of-11 faceoffs. Mark Streit clocked in at a healthy 23:57, second only among all players to Bryce Salvador, who topped out at 24:24 TOI.

“(I felt) better as the game went on, I think the first period I was just getting back in the game kind of and making plays," Giroux said. "I knew it was going to happen.  My legs really weren’t there at one point, but I’m happy I got to play one game and hopefully I’ll have a chance to play one more.”

Voracek will be evaluated further tomorrow, and Paul Holmgren said he expects the young Czech to play in Friday's preseason finale at Washington.

"That’s why it’s called preseason – you try different stuff, different PP unit, different forwards  together, different guys and that kind of stuff. I’m sure the next two games we’ll pare down and start playing lines together," said the always even-keeled Timonen. 

Wayne Simmonds was once again scratched due to a lingering case of the Adirondack Flu.  

The Flyers did do a better job of laying the body, outhitting the Devils by a 36-11 margin.

Penn State anchors initial Big Ten hockey poll

As expected for a second-year Division I program lumped into a conference with other traditional college hockey powerhouse programs, Penn State was picked last in the inaugural 2013-14 Big Ten preseason poll released on Tuesday.

Voted on by each of the six coaches of its member schools, the order of finish turned out as follows:

1. Wisconsin

2. Minnesota

3. Michigan

T4. Michigan State

T4. Ohio State

6. Penn State

Also on Tuesday, the conference announced the creation of a Challenge during the first two weekends of the season between Big East and Hockey East member schools. Bang the link for the full release. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Soul announce Dance Team tryouts

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Soul announced the open call tryout for the 2014 Soulmates Dance Team will be held on Saturday, November 2 at Dave & Buster’s in Plymouth Meeting (500 W. Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462). 

The open-call audition registration will take place between 9-10 a.m. with the audition beginning promptly at 10 a.m.

Fee for the clinic is $25, but those that pre-register will receive a $5 discount.  Pre-registration is available at where credit cards and PayPal are accepted or cash at the door.

Participants must be a high school graduate and at least 18 years of age by November 2, 2013 with a valid photo ID.  Participants are required to wear two-piece dance wear, including a midriff top, lycra shorts and appropriate footwear.  Participants will be taught a routine and do not need to prepare their own. Experienced dancers as well as beginners are encouraged to audition.  Applicants will be judged on dance ability, appearance, personality and attitude.  Must bring dance resume, non-returnable headshot and full body picture.  The open-call audition will be closed to the public.

Those seeking additional information about the auditions should e-mail the Soul at or visit the official team website at

Temple and Rutgers renew football rivalry

PHILADELPHIA  – Temple University and Rutgers University have jointly announced a four-year agreement to play football beginning with the 2020 season and continuing through the 2023 season.

This agreement will continue a rivalry that began in 1948 and will see its 36th contest on November 2, 2013. One-time BIG EAST competitors, the two schools battle in the American Athletic Conference together this season.  Rutgers, however, will move to the Big 10 next year.

“We are excited to announce a four-year agreement to play Rutgers in football starting in 2020,” said Interim Director of Athletics Kevin Clark.  “This is a great series for fans of both teams, and it will continue a geographic rivalry, which is big part of our scheduling philosophy.”

“I know about the Temple-Rutgers rivalry, but hadn’t had a chance to be a part of it,” said Temple head coach Matt Rhule. “This year will be my first year going against them and I know it’s great for both schools to compete against one another when geographically we are so close. I was disappointed to see that they were moving from our conference, but excited now to see that they are back on our schedule in a few years.”

The agreement states that Temple will host Rutgers in 2021 and 2023, while Rutgers will host Temple in 2020 and 2022.

September 19, 2020 – Piscataway, NJ
September 11, 2021 – Philadelphia, PA
September 17, 2022 – Piscataway, NJ
September TBA, 2023 – Philadelphia, PA

Eagles make practice squad move

PHILADELPHIA -  The Eagles re-signed rookie WR Will Murphy to the practice squad and released OL Isaac Remington from the practice squad.

Murphy caught three passes for 26 yards during the preseason after being signed as a rookie free agent from Oregon.

John McMullen of TSN about Week 3 in the NFL

MO Radio Show on Sports w/NFL Insider John McMullen talks NFL Week 3

John McMullen on Week 3 of the NFL on TSN690

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Phillies take interim tag off Sandberg

PHILADELPHIA - The Phillies have taken the interim tag off Ryne Sandberg and officially named the Hall of Famer the 52nd manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Sandberg signed a three-year contract through 2016 with a club option for 2017.

Sandberg, 53, was named interim manager of the Phillies on August 16.  Since then, the team has posted an 18-16 (.529) record.  He began the 2013 season as the Phillies third base coach, his first major league coaching position.  This year is his third in the Phillies organization, having served the first two as the manager for triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he went 155-132 (.540) and led the team to their first playoff appearance.

“We are pleased to announce that Ryne Sandberg will be our major league manager,” said GM Reuben Amaro.  “We feel that Ryne has the qualities and leadership skills that are essential to move our club and our organization forward.  Ryne’s six years as a minor league manager, Hall of Fame credentials and work ethic warrant this opportunity.”

Before joining the Phillies, Sandberg managed for four years in the Chicago Cubs minor league system, leading his clubs to two first-place finishes.  He had an overall managerial record of 439-409-1 (.517) in the minor leagues.

A 2005 inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Sandberg is the only Hall of Famer on a current major league staff.  He was originally drafted by the Phillies in 1978 and made his major league debut with the team in September of 1981 before being traded to the Cubs.  Sandberg played 15 years for Chicago and finished his career with a .285 batting average, 282 home runs and 1,061 RBI in 2,164 games.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Read it and smile: Flyers give center long-awaited extension

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor 

One of the last remaining questions as far as contracts were concerned was finally solved Friday afternoon, when the Philadelphia Flyers and Matt Read agreed to a four-year extension worth a reported $14.5 million.

“We’re excited and happy we finally got this done,” said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren in announcing the deal. “This has been going on for the better part of the summer. We’re happy and I’m sure Matt’s happy. He’s one of the young, core players on our team.”

Perhaps you can forgive Holmgren for calling Read young, since he picked up a 33-year-old Vinny Lecavalier and 35-year-old Mark Streit over the Summer.

Read, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent following the completion of this upcoming season, is set to make $1 million (according to from his initial three-year deal signed in 2011. He'll get a significant upgrade once the new pact kicks in next year.

The 27-year-old Bemidji State product totaled 11 goals and 13 assists last season, and was on pace for a stellar sophomore campaign, except for torn muscles in his rib cage which kept him sidelined during the middle portion of the schedule.

"I’m pretty excited, very happy and pretty relieved,” said Read. “It’s been an ongoing process, but I’m very happy about it. My first two years have been overwhelming for me. Its crazy that I’m even playing in the NHL, but to get this second contract with this organization is a dream come true. I couldn’t be with a better organization and I’m thrilled to be here for a few more years.”

It's a tremendous vote of confidence to those around the hockey world both inside and outside mainstream media who had Read pegged as the most likely trade candidate when weighing options between he, Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn due to Read's "advanced" age. It is also a rare event that the Flyers will sign and keep a player in the "prime" of his career age-wise compared to the rest of the NHL for a reasonable amount of money per season and for the length of the deal.

A native of Ontario, Read has contributed 35 goals and 71 points in 121 appearances over the last two NHL seasons. He totaled three goals and five points through two playoff rounds in the Spring of 2012.

Video: Fight in stands at Eagles-Chiefs game

Report: Flyers in running for 2015 Winter Classic

Proving once more that the National Hockey League only wants to showcase top teams in large markets, comes a report from CSN Philly, which quoted sources saying that the Washington Capitals were awarded the home game for the 2015 Winter Classic and that the Flyers are one of the two teams in the running to be the opponent.

Boston was reported to be the other franchise in consideration.

The 2014 Winter Classic will take place at Michigan Stadium between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings, the Big House's 100,000-plus capacity by far the largest venue the New Year's Day contest will be contested within.

Philly skated against the Bruins in the 2010 version at Fenway Park, then participated in the last Classic at Citizens Bank Park in 2012. The Orange and Black are 0-2 in such contests.

If America's capital is chosen to host, Nationals Park (capacity 41,418) is the most logical location to host the event and the best possible option. Since its 2008 inception, the Winter Classic has been held in NFL venues Ralph Wilson Stadium (73, 079) and Heinz Field (65,500), along with baseball venues, and this year's edition may inflate attendance records but will lose a lot of character and spirit.

Back in the Spring, I wrote about how it wasn't a good idea and wouldn't attend a potential outdoor game in Happy Valley between the Penguins and Flyers because the sheer largesse of the crowd would take away from the experience, but if it came down to the Metropolitan Division rivals Flyers and Capitals in a more intimate arena, it's a no brainer.

The Caps played in their initial Winter Classic in 2011 against the Penguins at Heinz Field, in a game notable more for abnormally warm temperatures and occasional rain.

Reid's Return: The old dog teaches Kelly some new tricks

PHILADELPHIA -The drunken fans who got into a melee just under the press box at Lincoln Financial Field during the third quarter on Thursday night showed a lot more fight than the Philadelphia Eagles in Andy
Reid's return to town.

Reid proved to the world you can indeed teach an old dog a few new tricks,
leading his Kansas City Chiefs to a relatively easy 26-16 win over the club he
spent the previous 14 seasons coaching.

"Big Red" played down his return trip to Philadelphia like only he can. Armed
with his trusty book of cliches, Reid tried to make the Chiefs' visit to the
City of Brotherly Love nothing more than your average Week 3 NFL game.

"In this business you're focused in on getting your team ready to play, and so
that's where my energy is going to go," Reid said earlier in the week. "I
haven't really thought about that other part at all. I don't necessarily plan
on thinking about that. I want to make sure I concentrate on the game at hand
and anything else becomes a distraction and I'm not going to let that happen."

"Anything else" was what this game was about, though, and to his credit Reid
took his team on the road in the midst of all the hoopla during a short week
and had them far better prepared than his flavor of the month counterpart,
Chip Kelly.

After the notorious Philadelphia fans, who have a well-chronicled love-hate
relationship with Reid, showed him some Brotherly Love with a standing ovation
pre-game, Kansas City went to work and surpassed its entire 2012 win total as
it forced five turnovers in the triumph over the Eagles.

Jamaal Charles carried the ball 20 times for 92 yards and a touchdown and
added seven receptions for 80 yards, Donnie Avery punished the Birds with
short drag routes, hauling in seven receptions for 141 yards and Alex Smith
completed 22-of-35 passes for 273 yards in the victory.

Defensively, Justin Houston did his best Lawrence Taylor impression, totaling
3 1/2 sacks, four tackles for losses, four quarterback hits, three passes
defensed and a forced fumble.

"We wanted to win the game for coach Reid," Houston said, "but we also really
wanted to win one for ourselves as well. We want to keep up the great
motivation and keep winning games we play. This was a nice team win."

Michel Vick, who regards Reid as a father figure and the man who gave him not
only a second chance in football but also in life, was in a giving mood,
completing just 13-of-30 passed for 201 yards with two interceptions and a

"I wasn't amped at all. I wasn't caught up in the hype and what was going on,"
Vick said. "It was just another football game. I tried to approach it that
way, and I didn't look at it any different. They were just the better team
tonight. We didn't execute at all on offense. We didn't do the things that
we're capable of, and it hurt our football team."

After the final seconds ticked off Reid, the winningest coach in Eagles
history, received a much-deserved Gatorade bath and showed uncharacteristic

"I appreciate the fans and the support that they gave," Reid said. "I
appreciated it when I was here, I appreciated it from them again today, that
was very kind of them, and I appreciated the Chiefs fans that were here.

"It's a good win."

And a satisfying one.

Remember this is a guy who piloted the Eagles to 140 wins, notching six NFC
East division titles along the way with five NFC Championship Game
appearances, and a Super Bowl berth before family problems kicked in and
familiarity began to breed contempt.

He gave his heart, his soul and perhaps even his oldest son, who succumbed to
a drug overdose at training camp in 2012, to the Philadelphia Eagles.

And you can talk about shelf life all you want but at the end of the day Reid
was fired by the franchise he built and that stings.

"I know he has a lot of love for his Eagles, he worked there a lot of years
and he probably wishes he was still coaching there," Charles admitted.

I'm not so sure about that. After all, Kansas City is the city with the great
BBQ and Pro Bowl-caliber talent at every level on defense. And perhaps more
importantly, the Chiefs wanted Reid and his every move isn't followed by a
series of snarky Tweets criticizing his clock management skills, mocking his
weight or ripping his now almost legendary disdain for the running game.

Success breeds selfishness and a distinct lack of perspective.

Before Andy, the Eagles weren't exactly a franchise steeped in a winning
tradition. Sure Dick Vermeil and Buddy Ryan had small spurts of success but
the city was far more familiar with the coaching inadequacies of people like
Joe Kuharich, Jerry Williams, Ed Khayat, Mike McCormack, Marion Campbell and
Rick Kotite.

As badly as things ended for Reid in Philadelphia, time will eventually
heal all the wounds and he will be recognized for what he was with the Eagles
-- a great football coach.

That doesn't mean the fans and the organization aren't hoping Kelly doesn't
end up being a little bit better, though.

Reid, a witty, even cantankerous fellow behind the scenes, was a curmudgeon in
public, often coming off as arrogant and aloof to a fan base that lived and
died with his teams.

He started all his press conferences by running down his team's injuries
before clearing his throat and saying "Time's yours" to the assembled media.
No matter how many questions were asked or how you asked them, the most you
ever get out of Andy was "I have to do a better job."

He was just protecting his organization and its players but his manner turned
off many in Philadelphia who circled this game as a de facto Super Bowl in a
rebuilding year.

Then a funny thing happened. Kelly unveiled his offense in the Eagles'
opener at Washington and heads spun as rebuild quickly morphed in to "hey,
maybe we can contend in a watered down NFC East."

Games against San Diego and the Chiefs were now afterthoughts, chalked up as
wins before an even funnier thing occurred -- College Chip's honeymoon lasted
all of six days and probably should have spanned just two quarters.

The Redskins turned a sure blowout into a game late before San Diego seized on
Kelly's own clock management deficiencies as well as his porous secondary for
an upset win.

Kansas City and Reid then followed that up Thursday with a dominating
performance marred even further by Kelly's goofy swinging gate conversion
attempt after a first-quarter TD.

Reid punctuated things by taking over the play-calling from offensive
coordinator Doug Pederson just in time for the game-deciding drive in the
fourth quarter, a marathon 15-play march which lasted over eight minutes.

It was Andy's way of giving the middle finger to his detractors, tweaking them
even further by leaning on Charles.

"Well it was big," Reid said of the last crucial drive.  "Our runner
(Charles), who is a Pro Bowl player, I mean he played like a Pro Bowl player
-- he ran the ball well, he caught the ball well when we needed it down the
stretch, he really pushed it hard."

To the bipolar in Philly, Kelly went from Vince Lombardi to Kotite in the span
of 11 days.

History will eventually record -- like most coaches -- he is somewhere in

One thing is for certain, though, he's no Andy Reid -- at least not yet.

"Fourteen years, is 14 years," Reid surmised. "That's a long time especially
for a chubby, old guy. I enjoyed every minute here; I'm enjoying my time in
Kansas City. I don't know -- it's all kind of settling in right now, not sure
exactly how I feel other than I'm glad we won the game."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Flyers trim roster ahead of Lake Placid sojourn

Ahead of their camp relocation to Lake Placid, the Philadelphia Flyers trimmed their roster to 32 players thanks to the latest round of cuts:

Heading back to Glens Falls will be: Brandon Alderson, Jason Akeson, Mark Alt, Rob Bordson, Tyler Brown, Carsen Chubak,  Doug Clarkson, Nick Cousins, Steven Delisle, Cullen Eddy, Kyle Flanagan,
Cal Heeter, Tyler Hostetter, Andrew Johnston, Matt Konan, Maxim Lamarche, Matt Mangene, Brandon Manning, Derek Mathers, Tye McGinn, Mark Nemec, Marcel Noebels, Petr Straka, and the inimitable Zack FitzGerald.

Samuel Morin has been returned to his junior club in Rimouski of the QMJHL, while  forwards Tyrell Goulbourne (Kelowna, WHL) and Taylor Leier (Portland,WHL) were also sent back to juniors.

Defenseman Todd "Tony" Orlando was released from his tryout contract.

That sets up what everyone assumes is a battle for a roster spot between Austrian Michael Raffl and last year's early call-up Scott Laughton.

Extra Points: Steelers are in rare rebuilding mode |

Extra Points: Steelers are in rare rebuilding mode |

Reid returns to Philly, leads Chiefs against Eagles

 The past meets the future in Philadelphia on Thursday

Perhaps the greatest quarterback in Eagles history, Donovan McNabb, will have
his No. 5 jersey retired and will be inducted into the franchise's Hall of
Fame on the same night his old coach, Andy Reid, returns to the city he called
home for 14 years.

Reid, the winningest coach in Eagles history, will be on the opposite sideline
of Lincoln Financial Field for the first time when he leads his 2-0 Kansas
City Chiefs against his former team.

The veteran coach piloted the Eagles to a 140-102-1 record, notching six NFC
East division titles along with five NFC Championship Game appearances, and a
Super Bowl berth before family problems kicked in and familiarity began to
breed contempt.

"I have great respect for Andy," his successor in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly,
said Tuesday. "He was a head coach here for 14 years and if you're a coach in
the NFL, anybody that coaches in one spot 14 years, you kind of look to them
and say, 'Holy smokes.'

"You just walk down these hallways (at the NovaCare Complex) and look at the
championships that were won here -- the division championships, conference
championships, and what he's done -- he's had a huge impact on this
organization. I've got a ton of respect for him."

As badly as things ended for Reid in the City of Brotherly Love, time tends to
heal all wounds and he will eventually be recognized for what he was
in Philly -- a great football coach.

That said, enough time hasn't passed yet and while Reid will likely get a warm
reception, this is the game everyone in town has circled.

Call it the "Big Red Bowl."

"In this business you're focused in on getting your team ready to play, and so
that's where my energy is going to go," Reid said. "I haven't really thought
about that other part at all. I don't necessarily plan on thinking about that.
I want to make sure I concentrate on the game at hand and anything else
becomes a distraction and I'm not going to let that happen."

Reid comes in riding high after Alex Smith finished 21-of-36 for 223 yards and
a pair of touchdowns last Sunday, while Ryan Succop hit the deciding field
goal early in the fourth quarter as Kansas City nipped Dallas, 17-16, in a
Week 2 matchup from Arrowhead Stadium.

"When you're trying to build something, you need to win games like this," said
Smith. "These are the games you look at in November and December. You need
these types of wins, not only the caliber of the win but the style of win."

Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles combined for 104 yards and two scores on 12
receptions for the Chiefs, who were coming off an easy win at Jacksonville to
begin their 2013 slate.

Under Reid Kansas City has already equaled its win total from last season,
which was a dismal 2-14 campaign under Romeo Crennel, and the team has a
chance to advance to 3-0 for the first time since 2010.

Kelly, wowed people during a season-opening win over Washington which featured
a high-tempo offense that had everyone's head spinning. The rookie head coach,
though, stumbled with some game management problems in a Week 2 home loss to
San Diego, failing to utilize the clock to his advantage late in the game and
also admitting he didn't understand calling a timeout could have enabled him
to keep QB Michael Vick on the field for a key play after the veteran was
dinged up.

With the Eagles trailing by a field goal and just over two minutes remaining
Vick, who threw for a career-high 428 yards in the game, was slammed violently
to the turf by Chargers defensive lineman Jarius Wynn.

The hit came inside the San Diego 20 and forced Vick to leave for one play, a
2nd-and-10 try from the 14 with 2:09 left.

"The referee said I had to come off," he said. "I was back up and standing,
ready to play (but) the referee told me to come out."

Backup Nick Foles came on and lofted a fade pass into the arms of DeSean
Jackson, a nice outcome except it came three yards outside the field of play.
No doubt groggy and behind the 8-ball on 3rd-and-10, Vick couldn't get
anything done and the Eagles were forced to settle for a 32-yard Alex Henery
field goal to even things.

"I won't say I wasn't hurt," Vick continued. "I wasn't 'hurt, hurt.' If I am
standing up I'm not hurt. I'm ready to go. I think that was unfortunate for my
team but the referees are doing their jobs."

"I actually said we couldn't (call a timeout and get Vick back in the game),"
Kelly admitted on Monday. "I didn't think we could."

After the kickoff San Diego QB Philip Rivers had 1:45 to work with and that
meant game, set and match against a porous Philadelphia defense which allowed
539 yards in the contest.

"When you look at it in hindsight we didn't score. We kicked a field goal so
it was tied. We wanted to try to score a touchdown, go up four, and then make
them have to drive the entire field at that point in time," Kelly said. "So
obviously when you look back at it, we probably should have ran the clock

Jackson hauled in nine balls for 193 yards for Philadelphia while LeSean McCoy
registered 114 yards receiving on five catches and ran for 53 yards on 11
carries in defeat.

The Eagles lead their all-time series with the Chiefs 4-2, including a 2-0
mark in Philadelphia. In their only meeting at the Linc, the Eagles won 34-14
in 2009.


The honeymoon for Kelly in Philadelphia lasted all of six days. He was the
toast of the town after thumping Washington with his innovative offense in
Week 1 but some fundamental coaching flaws, along with his undermanned defense
cost his team a very winnable game against a lightly-regarded Chargers team.

"I've made mistakes," Kelly said. "I think we've all made mistakes. That's
what this game is all about. No one coaches a perfect game, no one plays a
perfect game. But you've got to learn from those mistakes and hope that they
don't happen again. We've been in these situations and say, hey, we've been in
this before, what did we do in that situation, didn't work out for us, so next
time when we come back, we don't want to do it again."

The Philadelphia team we all expected to see showed up against San Diego.
The Eagles offense remained dynamic but left a number of plays on the field
while the defense -- especially the pass defense -- struggled mightily against
Rivers and his favorite target, Antonio Gates.

The 539 yards allowed against San Diego were the most the franchise has
allowed at home since Nov. 11, 1962 when Vince Lombardi's Packers put up 628.
It's also the first time the Philadelphia D has given up more than 500 yards
at home since 1971 against the 49ers.

The final line of defense for the Eagles -- safeties Patrick Chung, Nate Allen
and rookie Earl Wolff -- was particularly bad and couldn't contain a receiving
group which lost its biggest asset, Malcom Floyd, to a scary looking DeMeco
Ryans shot to the head early in the third quarter.

"Right now there aren't any safeties on the street, I can tell you that,"
Kelly said. "So we're going to play with the ones we've got."

Some Philadelphia players privately groused that Rivers knew exactly what
defenses they were in, casting doubts on the inventiveness of defensive
coordinator Billy Davis' schemes.

"They'd get up, take a look, then come back, sometimes they checked, we
checked, and then they checked again," Kelly explained. "I think when you're
playing a quarterback like Philip Rivers, I think basically they put the game
in his hands and he was making a lot of checks at the line of scrimmage
depending on the looks we were presenting. That's what you get when you're
going against someone as talented as him."

Smith may not be quite as talented as Rivers but he is 21-5-1 in last 27 NFL
starts so the Eagles will be facing another savvy signal caller who is going
to key and diagnose rather quickly.

The problem for the Chiefs, however, is they don't have the type of dynamic
offensive unit that can win a shootout like San Diego did against Philly.

Bowe is a solid receiver and Charles is a home run threat out of the backfield
but Reid is using a more conventional approach to offense in Kansas City and
that means playing it close to the vest, limiting turnovers and winning games
late, a philosophy that may be untenable against the Eagles.

"It means a lot, so I hope we go out there and play for our coach," Charles
told ESPN. "You know what I'm saying? I know he has a lot of love for his
Eagles, he worked there a lot of years and he probably wishes he was still
coaching there."

Philadelphia's 954 total yards on offense currently ranks second in the
league, only 11 behind the Packers, and the team boasts the NFL's leader in
receiving, Jackson, as well as rushing, McCoy.

"This is a really good offensive system, and I think Chip proved that at
Oregon and it's based on really solid things," Chiefs defensive coordinator
Bob Sutton said. "You get caught up in the tempo, which they do a great job
of, but really the way the system is run is really good."

Disrupting Vick's timing is paramount and that's where the Chiefs' impressive
front seven comes in. Big nose tackle Dontari Poe has 3 1/2 sacks already this
season and has really elevated his game, while Kansas City features three Pro
Bowl linebackers: veteran Derrick Johnson and pass rushers Justin Houston
and Tamba Hali.


There is a growing concern in Philadelphia that Kelly might be the bizarro
Buddy Ryan in that he only cares about offense.

So far, it looks like Kelly's vaunted offensive schemes are translating well
but he rarely had to worry about "silly things" like the defensive side of the
ball or clock management at Oregon. The learning curve is going to be much
steeper than most thought in those aspects.

That said, even though Reid seems rejuvenated in Kansas City, the Chiefs just
don't have the firepower to win the type of game you can win against the
Eagles. Meanwhile, the short week of preparation works against a defense
trying to catch up to Kelly's tempo.

"There are great coaches in this league, and I think every coach probably
tells you on these Thursday nights that it is a quick turnaround and you just
have to go," Reid said. "It's something you have to do. You buckle down and
make sure that you get it done. Chip (Kelly) has done a great job there,
obviously, the numbers are phenomenal. It should be an exciting game."

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eagles 31, Chiefs 23

Eagles sign CB Carmichael, put Hughes on short-term IR

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles have signed cornerback Roc Carmichael off the Texans' practice squad and placed cornerback Brandon Hughes on short-term injured reserve.

Hughes was re-signed by the Eagles last week when Bradley Fletcher was lost to a concussion. He suffered a hamstring injury in last Sunday's loss to the San Diego Chargers.

Carmichael was a fourth-round pick of the Texans out of Virginia Tech in 2011. The 5-foot-10 cornerback spent his rookie season on injured reserve and played six games in 2012.

The 25-year-old Carmichael becomes the sixth cornerback on the roster, joining Cary Williams, Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Jordan Poyer and Shaun Prater.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rangers take down Flyers in preseason action from WFC

It's the end of a rare four-game, three-day stretch to open the exhibition schedule, and the upcoming retreat to Lake Placid should provide some rest for the weary.

Benoit Pouliot registered the game-winning score with 5 1/2 minutes played in the third period, as the New York Rangers dumped the Flyers by a 3-2 count in South Philadelphia on Tuesday.

"It's a little confidence booster and it's always nice to score a goal whatever game it is," Pouliot said. "It helps you, it helps you mentally, and you feel better obviously but when the season starts it's going to be a different story."

Former Flyer Darroll Powe and Derick Brassard also lit the lamp for the Blueshirts, while another ex-Philly goaltender -- Martin Biron -- stopped all six shots he faced through the first half of regulation time. The one-goal decision gave new head coach Alain Vigneault his first win as Rangers head coach.

Cam Talbot picked up the win, despite yielding two goals on 12 shots for New York.

Max Talbot and Sean Couturier both registered their first tallies of the preseason, while Steve Mason was stuck in net for all three goals on 23 shots in defeat.

The Orange and Black face a week between games having gone 1-2-1 during this brutal stretch that began just three days after the start of training camp.

Most telling from the loss, was that Peter Laviolette laid some blame at the feet of the defense for goals which occurred closer to Mason's crease than he would have liked. The former Blue Jacket was also victimized for three goals in the early portion of a 4-3 loss against Toronto on Sunday night.

"He’s been in the net for some goals and they seem to be something that’s happened quite a bit, so it’s going to get addressed, but they’re chances that are coming from ten feet inside of an area in front of him and we have to do a better job cleaning him up," Laviolette admitted.  "I wouldn’t classify them as bad goals, I would classify it as we’re not helping him out the way we need to inside that area."

And so it is that Hal Gill, here on a PTO, will see his audition last a little bit longer. The 38-year-old picked up an assist in 15:17 of ice time and blocked four shots, lumbering all the way as he has since entering the NHL in 1997 with the Bruins. The closest living facsimile to Chris Pronger and Pronger's ability to sweep the slot, may yet have a spot on the roster if the question of protecting Mason is still unresolved.

"His best asset is defending. You think back through Hal and his career and what’s most noticeable and its him taking care in front of the net and being physical on top-end players and high-end player, so I think well even get a better look and a better read on Hal as the camp moves on," Laviolette added.

Samuel Morin, the gangly youngster taken with the 11th overall pick in June, continued to get an extended look as the club is apparently trying to ascertain his limits. He led the Flyers in ice time at 22:22, a night after placing third in TOI at 23:14 behind fellow blueliners Kimmo Timonen and Mark Streit.

Lake Placid has been known to provide a kick in the pants for some Flyers who needed it. A generation ago, Mike Keenan used time in the Adirondacks on the All-Star break for a mini-camp, and it fueled the strong finishes of both Murray Craven and Rick Tocchet -- the latter posting his first career 30-goal season with a torrid stretch not too long after play resumed in the Winter of 1988.

The New Jersey Devils await, in another preseason tilt on home ice.

Holmgren talks Morin, training camp and more

On Tuesday, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren spoke briefly on a variety of subjects concerning the early part of training camp, including the upcoming retreat to Lake Placid.

On Sam Morin, his entry-level contract, and if his preseason game on 9/16 vs. WSH sped up the process…

"No…we've been talking…we're not in a rush to get it done, but we've been talking since before camp started. I think it's important to get it done, and whatever happens from here on, it's a good little feather for him, and good for us."

On if Morin has a chance to make the Flyers out of training camp…

"That's a stretch, just because of the numbers we have here. We're just going to take it a day at a time and see how it goes. He's obviously playing again tonight, and we'll see how that goes. We were obviously pretty happy with how he played last night. He's an intriguing young man."

On comparisons to an impact franchise defenseman, ala Chris Pronger…

"I'd hate to put labels on him like either one of those labels, but he's an intriguing young man. For a guy that size, I think he gets around the ice really good. His hands are good; his sense is really good. We'll just take it a day at a time. Any time he can spend here is a bonus, to learn from guys, learn what it takes to be a pro. When the time comes to make our decision, we'll make it."

On if he has seen anything since that draft that he did not know about him before…

"Obviously, you don't really know the kid, what he's made of. He's obviously a very confident kid. He's pretty sure of himself—not in a bad way, but in a good way. And he's a hard working kid. He's put the time in to train properly; he eats properly already. He weighs 211 pounds—I remember Chris Pronger, when I had him in Hartford as an 18-year-old, I think he weighed 180 or 185. Sam's already 211 pounds. He's going to continue to get bigger and stronger. Who knows what he's going to be when he's done growing."

On if he will announce cuts tonight or tomorrow…

"Probably tomorrow."

On how many players he plans to take to Lake Placid…

"We'll probably take 26 to 28, no more than that."

On when the idea of going to Lake Placid first came up…

"We've talked about it for a few years, it just never seemed like the right time to do it. This year it just worked out with what's going on at the Skate Zone, the renovation, and the way that training camp broke. Obviously, with the split squad yesterday, we killed two games in one day. It makes it easier to plan what we have going this year. It kind of just worked out—the game that we had last night at home was originally (scheduled) for Thursday, but we didn't want to go up against the Eagles, so they moved it to Monday. I wouldn't mind moving two of those games next year, to play two doubleheaders with two split squads.

On if anyone has ever done two doubleheaders before…

"We had talked about it, but we couldn't get anybody that really wanted to do it in the East. A lot of the teams in the West had done it for the last few years. It gives everybody an opportunity—it forces you to put kids in your lineup, and everybody gets an opportunity to play."

On how important the team building activity in Lake Placid is…

"I think it's good. Peter and the coaches have some interesting things planned for the players up there. They'll not only put them through the paces on the ice, but some off-ice stuff they can do, which is very important as you prepare for an 82-game season, and hopefully playoffs. I think it's going to be good for us."

Phillies writers announce yearly award winners

Prior to the second edition of a three-game home series with the Miami Marlins, the Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America revealed their 2013 award choices. 

The full release is below.


            Domonic Brown won the Mike Schmidt Award for Most Valuable Player and Cliff Lee earned the Steve Carlton Award for Most Valuable Pitcher in voting by the Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which announced today the winners of its annual Phillies franchise awards.
            Former manager Charlie Manuel and Kevin Frandsen also were honored by the writers. Manuel won the Dallas Green Award for Special Achievement. Frandsen won the Tug McGraw Award for True Professionalism. 
             Brown received 78 percent of votes for the Schmidt Award. He was an NL All-Star in his first full season as a regular, and leads the Phillies in homers (27) and RBIs (81) despite missing 22 games in the second half. Chase Utley finished second in voting.
             Lee was nearly a unanimous choice to win his second Carlton Award. He received 92 percent of votes. Lee leads the Phillies in wins (14), ERA among starters (2.95) and strikeouts (201).
             Manuel received 83 percent of votes for the Special Achievement Award, which he earned for becoming the 58th manager to win 1,000 games. Manuel previously won the Green Award in 2011 for surpassing Gene Mauch for most wins as manager in franchise history.
             Frandsen edged former Phillie Michael Young for the True Pro Award given to the player who best exemplifies McGraw’s good-natured personality and for his professional cooperation with beat writers. Three other players and Manuel also received votes.
             The awards were instituted by the BBWAA Philadelphia chapter in 2004. They will be presented on the field before Saturday night's game against the New York Mets.

Previous Winners

Shane Victorino
Cliff Lee
Charlie Manuel
Raul Ibanez
2012   Carlos Ruiz                          Cole Hamels                     Jimmy Rollins                Juan Pierre

Flyers sign Morin to ELC

The Philadelphia Flyers announced on Tuesday that defenseman Samuel Morin has been signed to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The Inquirer stated it is worth $4.275 million for the duration. The contract will be one that's allowed to slide and not be counted against the CBA-mandated limit of 50.

Morin, an 18-year-old native of Quebec, was taken with the 11th overall pick in this past June's draft from Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

He made his NHL debut last night in a preseason contest against the Washington Capitals, an appearance which has led CSNPhilly's Tim Panaccio and The Hockey Guys' David Strehle to already pen pieces about the potential for the gangly youngster's impact on the back line.

Morin posted four goals and 16 points with a whopping 117 penalty minutes over 46 games for the Oceanic last season, his second in juniors.

Penn State hockey to get national exposure this season

The Penn State Nittany Lions will play select games in their 2013-14 schedule as a Big Ten member on national networks during the upcoming season.

Guy Gadowsky's club will be featured on the Big Ten Network for the following games: October 11 vs. Army (Pegula Ice Arena opener); January 13 vs. Minnesota; January 17 at Michigan State; February 14 vs. Michigan State; February 21 at Michigan; February 28 at Minnesota.

PSU also takes on Ohio State on ESPNNEWS February 1, while hosting Michigan one week later on ESPNU. Another ESPNNEWS game is slated for Feb. 15 against the Spanrtans in East Lansing.

Click here for the full Conference release.

Monday, September 16, 2013

MO Radio Show on Sports w/NFL Insider John McMullen - Week 2

Flyers send Stolarz back to juniors

Flyers goaltending prospect Anthony Stolarz has been sent back to his junior team, and lucky for him, the journey isn't far.

Stolarz, a 2012 selection, saw his first NHL action last night in a 4-3 loss to Toronto in the clubs' exhibition opener. The 19-year-old gave up the eventual game-winning goal in the second period.

The game was played in London, Ontario, which happens to be the location of the Knights, his OHL club.

Stolarz went 13-3-2 with a 2.29 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and one shutout for the league champions and Memorial Cup entrant last year, after jumping from the University of Nebraska-Omaha mid-season.

Obscure Flyers profile: John Druce

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor 

This Flyers forward from the 90s might be best known for a throwaway line used by the club's television play-by-play man during a game at Pittsburgh in February late in his first full season with the team.

He might be better known for a key goal scored late in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Madison Square Garden later that same year.

Whatever the case, John Druce  left an imprint on clubs in the latter part of the decade stacked with talent.

Acquired from the LA Kings late in the 1995-96 season along with a draft pick which turned into Todd Fedoruk, Druce provided four goals and four assists in 13 games as the Flyers rose from third in the Patrick Division to first in the Eastern Conference with a strong stretch run.

"I'm a streaky scorer,'' Druce told Gary Miles of the Inquirer shortly after his acquisition. "`This is an intense time of the season. It's time to rise to the occasion and play your best hockey, and that's what I'm trying to do -- go out every night and battle and see what happens.''

Druce participated in 79 regular-season games and 17 playoff games over parts of three seasons, but did we really get to see him? More often a healthy scratch or stashed across the street with the Phantoms, Druce spent the latter half of his career and most of his tenure here as a defensive specialist with face-off responsibilities and a knack for short-handed play.

So when Jim Jackson exclaimed "John Druce! Druce is loose" after a third-period strike against Patrick Lalime which boosted the Flyers to a 4-2 edge after trailing 2-0 in the first period of an eventual 6-2 win, you could sense the Ontario native might be sticking around a while having tallied in back-to-back games during a weekend sweep of the Pens after being out the previous eight.

But Druce sat 14 of the final 23 regular-season games and didn't score again, in part due to a lacerated leg.

Druce went seven playoff appearances through the first two-and-a-half playoff rounds without an assist, but picked up his biggest goal in seven years during a pivotal contest against the Rangers. Trusted enough by head coach Terry Murray to kill a late-game New York advantage in a 1-1 game, he skated out with Trent Klatt on a 2-on-2 break up the left wing, then picked the rebound of his initial shot out of Mike Richter's pads and roofed it from the right side to give Philly a 2-1 lead with 3:13 to play in regulation.

Even though Brian Leetch beat Ron Hextall after the conclusion of the same power play to tie the game over a minute later, without that surprise strike, Eric Lindros' memorable game-winner as seconds bled away in the third would only have been a tying score.

"I was up in the crowd and the guys up there were razzing me,'' Druce told Ed Moran of the Daily News about Rangers fans during Game 3, a 6-3 Flyers victory. "They were calling me a bum. "The toughest part about it is mentally you've got to be ready to play and when you're called upon you've got to go out there and do a good job. We've got a lot of depth on this team."

That "bum" helped Murray, then the new head coach with the Washington Capitals, take down the first-place Rangers during the second round of the 1990 playoffs. Nine of Druce's career-best 14 goals that postseason came against the Blueshirts in a five-game triumph. And nobody needs to be told that Rangers fans have long memories.

It still didn't seem to be enough for the veteran winger to stick. Between head coaches Wayne Cashman and Roger Neilson the following season, Druce only dressed for 23 NHL games and tallied a goal with two assists. He amassed 49 points (21 G, 28A) in only 39 AHL contests but was unable to parlay that into another job in North America. His last appearance in Orange and Black came against his old team, in their final game as division rivals until this year's realignment.

Left unprotected in the 1998 expansion draft but unwanted by anyone else, Druce spent two years in Germany's top league, one each with Hannover and Augsburg, before hanging up the skates for good at the start of the new Millennium.

His quote from the following feature aptly sums up his career: "Every day was a joy to go to the's something you never forget. It's like a roller-coaster ride playing in the National Hockey League. One day you're in the penthouse, the next day you're in the doghouse."