Monday, June 30, 2014

MO Radio Show on Sports Live w/NFL Insider John McMullen 06/30 by Mo Radio Show | Sports Podcasts

MO Radio Show on Sports Live w/NFL Insider John McMullen 06/30 by Mo Radio Show | Sports Podcasts

Talking offeseason NFL news on FOX Sports Radio

The Fellas Hour 3

Phanatic Book Review: Gordie Howe's Son

"I'm not going to thank you for being my line mate for six years and I'm not going to thank you for elbowing the guy who may have taken a dirty shot at me. I'm not going to thank you for being the greatest hockey player ever. 

"I want to thank you for being the husband, father and grandfather you are. You are the role model that led my life. I'm so proud to call you my dad."

Mark Howe's stirring final words in his Hockey Hall of Fame speech from November, 2011 to his father, none other than Gordie "Mr. Hockey" Howe, still resonate.

Many have stated that the younger Howe's belated induction was a direct result of his father's overwhelming on-ice greatness, and former Flyers beat writer Jay Greenberg attempted to chronicle Mark's journey to the summit of his profession while trying to carve out a name for himself, with a book released last Fall.

It's an engaging read from start to finish, if nothing else than for the fact that we finally get to see the life of a man content throughout his career to lead by his play and not by his voice laid out by Howe himself. It's a relief, really, to read thoughts given the proper time to digest and coalesce, given how uncomfortable a public speaker Howe seemed during his Hall induction and his subsequent jersey retirement ceremony by the Flyers in March of 2012.

Whether you're a Flyers fan sick of hearing all the stories of the good old days from relatives or a student of the franchise and the sport mining the pages for some new nuggets of wisdom and anecdotes, this book is well worth your time.

What is most intriguing in revelations of the father-son dynamic over the decades, was that the elder Howe never really took to life in hockey beyond donning the uniform -- both in Detroit and Hartford -- and endured painful splits with both clubs that never really did anything but set him up as a figurehead, while the younger Howe continued to carve out a successful post-playing career as a respected scout for the Red Wings. Nonetheless, it never caused any friction between the two, which could have made for a juicier, more salacious subject.

Included are never-before-published pictures of the Howes throughout the years, as well as a toned-down but still fairly graphic account of another way the family made history: the 1981 incident where Mark's hind quarters were pierced by the metal protrudance that used to anchor the old-style nets in a goalmouth collision with Islanders forward John Tonelli. Even tough old Gordie had a unique reaction -- one more fatherly than his typical gruff on-ice demeanor -- to that freak injury.

In the wake of the potentially life-altering accident, the current free-standing net design was created. To know that Gordie is now 86 and in need of greater care, brings extra poignancy to that story and others contained within between father and son, both on and off the ice. 

Since it's an overview of Mark's hockey life from beginning to end, don't get caught into thinking the section on his 10 years with the Philadelphia Flyers gets a glossy treatment. There's a section close to the end which describes the end of Howe's days here and his return to Detroit for the final three years as a player, as well as an excellent description of the differences between how the Wings and Flyers operate, from Howe in his current role as a scout. 

There's also excellent insight surrounding the still-forgotten 1972 Team USA hockey Silver medal winners from Sapporo, bits about the craziness that surrounded the World Hockey Association, and some unexpected personal anecdotes that add extra dimensions to a man many of us were used to seeing only from behind glass partitions or on television.

Here's the problem, and if you've ever encountered an author who alludes to and quotes his or her work through multiple releases, it's a big one:

Greenberg undertook a massive research project in the mid-90s, going through years' worth of archives from before the Flyers set skate on NHL ice, as well as his own personal writing with the Daily News, and came up with nothing less than the definitive history of the franchise through its years anchored on Pattison Avenue in Full Spectrum. This is a book which I have praised and referenced and quoted from on multiple occasions across several sites, and which I will not hesitate to call a master work. 

If you bought or were gifted this tome, either in its original white hardcover version or its updated black-jacket edition which included the 1997 run to the Cup Finals, you've read through the three main sections covering the decade of the 1980s, including the chapter called "Close Enough to Cry," which tracks the Mike Keenan years that include two Stanley Cup Finals losses to Edmonton and Pelle Lindbergh's death. Two other chapters, entitled "Long Pants and Long Faces," and "No One Monkey Stops the Show," also feature Howe as a primary mover.

Howe spent 10 years in a Flyers uniform, from 1982 to 1992, and was the club's best defenseman, injured or healthy, during that period. You'd think a good chunk of what he had to say in this new offering might be different from anything else previously published, but it's little more than some uncensored conversations and vignettes featuring Keenan and his players of the era.

Unfortunately, a significant portion of Howe's "recollections" came almost verbatim from the above-mentioned work. If Howe wasn't directly providing his perspective, certain phrases and sentences were lifted to further the narrative, and if not done wholly, those quotes were clipped and left in as portions of sentences. At some points, it appeared that Howe wasn't even speaking for himself, merely repeating what Greenberg wrote 18 years ago as if he were providing fresh insight.

It seems a bit disingenuous, but I bet Howe has no idea and Greenberg is betting you either hadn't bought his earlier work or if so, didn't pay attention closely. This is not what I expected from a man I grew up reading and who has been elected to the Hall of Fame as a writer, but I can understand how tedious it might be to construct a new narrative when you've done so much to formulate the definitive one.

If none of that bothers you, then you're still in for a rich re-telling of the second renaissance of Flyers hockey. 

The latter stages of the book deal with things we all have to face as we grow older: the care of elderly parents, and the particular pain when one or both suffers a decline due to failing health. Mrs. Hockey, Colleen Howe, passed away in 2009 after a decade-long battle with Pick's Disease -- something which rattled the foundations of the game's first family like nothing before. For anyone who ever met Mark or saw him working away quietly in the upper tier of the Wells Fargo Center press box, his reserved demeanor never hinted at the private toll it took on him.

The end result is, picking up this book will make even casual Flyers fans more knowledgeable about certain dynamics inherent in the path players take to the top of their profession and how that process affects and informs their personal and professional lives. When viewed through the prism of the NHL's first all-time icon and his equally-talented son, who now share enshrinement in Toronto, you're in for a solid read that is steeped in, but doesn't overdo, its emotional core.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Flyers round out 2014 draft with picks in 3rd-7th rounds

After selecting a forward in the second round, the Flyers decided to make their defensive pool a little deeper, selecting Mark Friedman with the 86th overall choice.
Friedman just concluded his second season with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL, totaling 10 goals and 30 assists over 51 games last season.

A native of Toronto, the 18-year-old blueliner will suit up for Bowling Green in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

"I think I’ve become a more two way player,” Friedman said. "Before, I just relied more on my offense, and now I can really rely on my defense. I hope to bring a two-way game. "I'm a scoring defenseman. I like to join the rush, but I can also play defense so I know I can rely on all aspects of my game."

If that personal account is accurate, Friedman's acumen places him in the mold of former Union defenseman and 2012 Flyers' draft choice Shayne Gostisbehere.

Two rounds later, it was a trip across the Atlantic to select left winger Oskar Lindblom from Brynas of Swedish hockey. The 17-year-old stands 6-foot and weighs 185 pounds.

Ranked 23rd among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Lindblom posted 33 points (13G, 20A) in 43 games for the second division team in 2013-14 before going on to score six goals and add an assist in seven playoff games.

Heading further into the continent, Philadelphia's sixth-round selection was center Radeel Faleev from Russia, who scored 25 points (5G, 20A) in 38 games for the Calgary Hitmen. With their final pick, in the seventh round at 198th overall, 19-year-old defenseman Jesper Pettersen was plucked from Linkoping of the Swedish Hockey League. The right-handed shooter also participated for Tre Kronor in the World Junior Championship.

Hextall discusses his first crack at the draft as Flyers GM

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers, new GM Ron Hextall offers his thoughts about the just-concluded draft and upcoming free agency

What did you see from today’s part of the draft?

Well, I think it was a decent draft.  There were still some names on the table that we liked when it was over.  There’s some depth, but as we all know, once you get into the later rounds it’s a crapshoot.  There were some things we saw on the guys that we picked.

Did you think you would be moving around at all in this draft?

Somebody else has got to be willing to move.  A lot of teams try to get up.  And teams say yeah, we’ll move back, but then they want the king’s ransom.  You’ve got to judge every conversation you have and if something makes sense, then you do it, but if you don’t… you can’t move up or do something that you don’t want to do and overpay.  It’s a feel, and if you feel you got the right deal, you do it, and if you don’t, you don’t.  We got some good young prospects. 

On drafting a player from the same team as Travis Sanheim

That’s a total coincidence there.  He’s a Russian kid playing in North America, [so] it gives you a little bit of a comfort level that he’s going to [stay here] and play.

On whether they intentionally drafted a lot of defensemen.

No, it’s more the way it fell.  We certainly weren’t going to draft all defensemen, but it is the way the draft fell for us.  We got forwards that we’re happy with, and there’s a nice balance. I gotta tell you, I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get a goalie.  They just didn’t fall where we hoped they would be.

Were you surprised there was a run on them?

Usually when that happens, it happens like that.  As soon as the first goalie went, all of a sudden people get a little hungrier for guys.  So not necessarily.

Is there anyone in the middle or late rounds that you’re intrigued with?

Well, we’re intrigued with them all or we wouldn’t have picked them.  There was one kid who got picked four picks ahead of us that we really wanted.

Was [Pettersson] a shot in the dark?

We were all over at World Juniors and you see this little Swedish kid out there and he’s playing hard and hitting, he’s a really good player.  Really feisty. So I said to one of our guys, jeez, he’s a pretty good player.  And he said yeah, I’ve been saying that for three years, and he’s been through two drafts.  He’s a gritty, hard-nosed, honest player.  He’s 20 years old.  We like him.

What was his supposed liability?

Five-foot-nine.  He’s a wide body.  When you look at a lot of the smaller guys, you look for some girth, and he’s got girth.

The second round pick? 

Competitive, speed.  He’s a winger.  Got some good hands.  We think he’s got some upside.  Speed factor certainly was talked about.

On the future

Things turn over quick.  You can never have enough players at all positions.  There’s a bit of an imbalance right now with our reserve list.  We’ve got our young forwards, most of them are on our team, [but] our young defensemen, most of them are still out.  But they’re going to come together with the young forwards, and now we have to kind of come underneath and bring some young forwards along.

On Friedman being a college player with an extra year to decide on signing him

Well, it doesn’t hurt.  College guys, you never know if they’re going to come out early or play the four years.  It does give you a bit moreinthan the standard two years.  I never let that influence whether we pick a guy or not, but it’s a nice little kind of a sideline that could help.

Has the decision been made to qualify Akeson?

Yeah, we’ll qualify him.  I think we have to.  It was never a question mark there.

On Lecavalier

I’m going to repeat it again – it’s an internal issue.  If I have something to report I will.  Otherwise Vinny will be with us in September.  I didn’t expect anything to happen.

On qualifying McGinn and Heeter

We’ve got a deadline coming up here, so we’ve got to talk.  McGinn will be qualified for sure.  Heeter we’ve got to talk about.

Have you talked to any potential free agents?

We’ve reached out.  We haven’t met with anybody.

Are you looking for anything this week?

First on my agenda right now is to go back to Skate Zone and take a look at our cap. We have the hard number now, so we’ve got to look at it and see where we can try to maneuver.

Were you surprised with that number and does it affect you?

Yeah, it affects every team that’s close.  It affects us for sure.  We’ve got to find a way to get below it.  It was a little lower than we thought and hoped.

Pryor talks Flyers draft

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers, Director of Scouting Chris Pryor's thoughts on the just-concluded draft.

Chris, can you give us one sentence on each of these guys strengths and weaknesses?

Sure, we can start with Travis Sanheim.  He probably has talked to a few of our guys already but I think if you get consensus throughout the scouting community I mean he’s on his way, he’s kind of a upper trend, he started out coming up into the league, no one really knew about him by the end of the league he was one of the bigger contributors in April on the Canadian team. So that tells you his growth this year and our scout Mark Greig says he is a big guy, skates well, handles the puck, got some poise and it may be repetitive here but once again he’s on the upper trend.

The 2nd round pick?

Nicolas Aube-Kubel is another guy that probably is a little bit under the radar, probably a little over shadowed a little bit over Val d’Or because  the big line he played a lot of minutes there. Todd Hearty and Simon [Nolet] saw a lot of him in Val d’Or in the Quebec league. We are excited because I think next year you are going to see big things from him, because he is going to get some of that quality ice time.  So we are expecting he is going to have a big year coming up.  He brings speed, he is a good hockey player and he is competitive. Those are attributes from a forward side that are pretty exciting.


Our guy in the USHL saw a lot of Mark.  He is going to Bowling Green next year. 5’10”- 5’11” competitive, skilled defenseman. He plays both sides of the puck, he’s got some skill and can run the power play, he is mobile, and he competes and he is going into a good situation at Bowling Green – he is going to get a lot of ice time. He committed real early, people are going to ask about Bowling Green. Why Bowling Green? Well they stepped up early, and he committed and he stuck with his commitment so he is going to attend Bowling Green in the fall and we will see what happens.

Who is your guy in the USHL?

My son, Nick Pryor.


I think if you were to look at, and we were to have a conversation last summer with him there is predictions that he could have been late 1st, early 2nd round pick. He had a really good tournament with the Under 17’s last year and for whatever reason it happens, he slipped a little bit this year. We were on him from day 1, we’ve seen him a lot this year, he’s got a big body, a lot of skill. From the blue line in he’s really good. Like I said he could have been an easy early 2nd pick and we didn’t think he’d be there when we picked him there.

On Radel Fazleev

One thing about Radel, he plays a North American game. Hardworking kid, plays both ends. He had a little trouble… he got hurt a little bit this year so he is a little under the radar but if you look at his playoff numbers he had really good numbers in the playoffs, so I think you are going to see as with Travis Sanheim they are both kids that are on the upper trend. So right now he is trying to out for the under 20 team in Russia, so he has a really good chance of making that under 20 team in Russia next year.


Well he is a little bit older guy.  He has been through the draft a couple times already, but just by the scouting fraternity we have seen him a lot in the last couple years.  Not overly flashy guy, just plays the game the right way, he’s not big but he’s very thick, he’s competitive, got a good stick, has a really good head for the game, and he plays the game the right way. He is a big leader with the Swedes this year, I think they missed him, he got a suspension there at the end of the tournament.  They got a little pushing and shoving with a Russian, he got kicked out for the last game and I think it really hurt the Swedes there. So I don’t know if you guys remember the kid we had Freddy Meyer a few years ago, he has kind of a similarity there. Not real big but he’s really solid on his feet, highly competitive and he’s a character kid. Each one of these kids have spent a lot of time with individual scouts so they stepped up on these guys and they like them.

I think the Russian was drafted by the KHL, right?

He was in Calgary this year. He’s committed to coming back over here. He’s a North American player.

Would you have taken him if he weren’t already in North America?

It’s a tough question. You’re dealing with that question over there. Unfortunately, in the KHL, those kids it’s an enticing thing for them to go back over there and play, so it’s something that you do probably have to deal with. Him being here and playing here shows you that he wants to play over here and he wants to be a player in North America and try to make the NHL. He’s kind of answered a lot of those questions already.

What about the depth of the defenseman that you have in your system?

We feel good about it. Over the last couple of years, I think we’ve made not so much of a conscious effort, but I think we’ve done a good job. Now, we’ve got Travis Sanheim, Friedman, and Pettersson. I think we’ve done a really good job of filling some of that gap maybe that we haven’t had for a while. We’re excited about the depth we’ve got. If you look at us right now with Hagg and Morin and now Sanheim and a couple other kids that are in the American league, it’s something that’s pretty exciting.

What was it like working with Ron, not just at the draft, but leading up to the draft and in preparations? Was there any different feel at the table than Paul?

Hexy and Homer and Flyer philosophy, and Hexy’s got a little bit, everybody’s got a different way of looking at things and doing things, but for the most part it was the same atmosphere, same environment. There wasn’t any remarkable difference in our approach. The way we do things I think it’s pretty exciting. Our philosophy is intact.

Lindbloom’s the guy you said he’s slipped a little bit over the course of the year. Some of the best games in the Sweedish Junior Playoffs in the U-18 Worlds, did you feel he kind of pushed himself back up again in the way he finished the year?

He seemed to rise at those tournaments. Our guy’s seen him a lot in his league over there. Maybe a little bit inconsistent, but it’s tough for those kids sometimes. They get juggled back and forth from the men to the juniors. It’s hard for them to get on track. But again, if you look at his resume starting from last year at the U-17, I think he led that tournament in scoring. Coming into the year he had a lot of hype on him, maybe a little bit of inconsistency. Again, if you would have told me in the fall that we would be talking about him where we got him, we would be really excited, so we’re happy.

Both Ron and Paul acknowledged that speed is key now with the game.

It is pretty attractive in this game. If you look at the way the game’s going and the way it’s been played, you need to be able to skate. Mobility and speed is a big part of it, so the Kubel kid in the second round, Sanheim skates well, Friedman has good mobility. I think it’s something that you need to play now. I don’t know if we’d pay more special attention to that but it’s something you have to keep your eye on, for sure.

Flyers select QMJHL center with second-round pick

With their second pick at #48 on Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers selected Val d'Or center Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

The double-barrel-named right-handed shooter put together a solid second season in Canadian juniors in 2013-14, collecting 22 goals and 53 points over 65 regular-season games. He contributed 13 points in 24 postseason efforts, as the Foreurs won the Q championship against Baie-Comeau and then placed third in the Memorial Cup.

"The playoffs with my team and the Memorial Cup helped me to be well for the draft, and I think I did well especially during the Memorial Cup," Aube-Kubel said. "I got good speed, good skate ability. I’ve got good hockey sense offensively. I can be a two way player too."

Over two years with the northern Quebec club, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound 18-year-old has collected 32 goals and 80 points in 129 appearances.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Flyers choose Sanheim at #17

Shocking many in the crowd and at broadcast centers, the Philadelphia Flyers chose Calgary Hitmen defenseman Travis Sanheim with the 17th overall pick in Friday's draft.

Against the expectations of some who thought a try for Sami's son Kasperi Kapanen or Boston College commit Alex Tuch was in the cards, Flyers GM Ron Hextall even-handedly announced the selection, now destined to enter into the competition for the young vanguard on the blueline.

"This is a dream. To have the year that I did and the success that I did over the course of the year, this is very fulfilling. I played in all situations, and I thought I played with confidence. That was a big part of my success."

Sanheim, 18, has the height at 6-foot-3, and the smooth stride, but not the bulk the franchise is used to seeing at the position by weighing in at 190 pounds. Nonetheless, he recorded five goals and 29 points over 67 games with only 14 penalty minutes and a plus-25 during his first season in Canadian juniors.

Here's a sampling of his wares:

The native of Manitoba is just the third #17 pick in the first round in franchise history, following Kevin McCarthy and Mark Suzor.

Next season in the rough-and-tumble Western Hockey League, Sanheim will have to begin to lay the groundwork to distinguish himself among the likes of Oliver Lauridsen, Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Brandon Manning, Samuel Morin, Mark Alt and others to gain a spot with the organization.

Bang the link here, where the distant relative to Hextall discusses his time at the NHL Combine, from the Calgary Flames. Hextall himself had some strong words for his new prospect:

"It's time for Travis to take the next step and work hard and eat right and develop his body and develop himself mentally and become a more impact player. There is a growth player here. He is a long way from playing in the NHL."

Reactions for Bettman entrance run the gamut

And now for something completely different...

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman will make his first public appearance in Philadelphia since awarding the Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup to members of the Chicago Blackhawks on June 9, 2010.

Never one of this town's favorites among the upper echelon of league management, it's certain that Bettman will receive, let's say...reactions...from a Philadelphia crowd that won't be sitting in their home-ice seats cheering on their club in the traditional sense.

In the interest of irresponsible "journalism," and because the Phanatic didn't want to clog your feeds with a 38th different variation of the same draft issues, profiles and "cheat sheets," we decided to take a different tack and leave the following loaded question in the hands of our followers:

"Gary Bettman will be ___________ upon his first appearance at the draft."

Here are the best and least vulgar responses:

And here was the full-throated reaction of the sellout crowd once their esteemed guest took the podium to kick of the draft in earnest:

Technically, the winner is none of the above. Even though Cade and Mats hit the nail on the head by saying Bettman would be booed, it was one answer I didn't include in the original post which came closest to capturing the typical Philadelphia response:

NHL salary cap numer made official

So it was said, now it is written.

Back in April, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman strongly hinted that the figure for the increased salary cap for next season would be in the range of $69 million.

On Friday afternoon, hours before the draft was set to begin, the league and its players' association made a joint announcement pinning that number exactly.

The new cap ceiling represents an increase of $4.7 million over the $64.3 million cap for the 2013-14 season, which was negotiated as part of the collective bargaining agreement that ended the 2012-13 work stoppage.

The minimum payroll is $51 million.

Extra Points: Offseason update, the AFC edition | NFL (AP) | Latest news and video on the Dal...

Extra Points: Offseason update, the AFC edition | NFL (AP) | Latest news and video on the Dal...

Pelicans confirm Jackson deal

PHILADELPHIA - Both Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie and the New Orleans Pelicans have confirmed the deal which sent the the draft rights to guard Russ Smith, the 47th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, to New Orleans in exchange for the rights to guard Pierre Jackson.

Smith (6-foot, 165) recently completed his senior season at the University of Louisville, becoming the only player in program history with at least 1,800 points, 350 assists and 250 steals. Over the course of his career, he led the Cardinals to two Big East Tournament titles, the American Athletic Conference Tournament title, two NCAA Final Fours and a school-record 35 wins in 2012-13 en route to the NCAA Championship.

In his senior campaign, the unanimous all-AAC first team member averaged 18.2 points, 4.6 assists and 2.0 steals on his way to being named a consensus All-American. He guided Louisville to the AAC Championship and garnered AAC Championship Most Outstanding Player honors by averaging 25.7 points, 3.7 assists and 2.7 steals in the tournament.

As a junior, Smith helped Louisville win an NCAA Championship and earned All-Big East First Team accolades with averages of 18.7 points, 2.9 assists and 2.1 steals. He averaged 22.3 points and 2.5 steals per game in the Cardinals’ six NCAA Tournament contests.

Over the course of four seasons, Smith appeared in 133 games and averaged 14.3 points, 2.8 assists and 1.9 steals. He completed his career as the school’s all-time steals leader (256) and finished second in free throws (488).

The Pelicans entered Thursday night without a draft pick because of last year's trade with the 76ers that involved point guard Jrue Holiday. As part of that deal, the Pelicans also acquired Jackson, who played in Europe and in the NBA Development League this past season.

Sixers acquire rights to McRae

BROOKLYN, NY – The Sixers acquired the draft rights to Jordan McRae (58th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft) and the 60th overall pick in the NBA Draft, which was later traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

Both picks were acquired from the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for the 54th overall pick. McRae declared for the 2014 NBA Draft following his senior season at Tennessee.

In four years, McRae (6-6, 185) averaged 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 1 steal in 33 minutes per game while shooting 42 percent from the floor. He led the team in scoring with 19 ppg his senior year and 16 ppg his junior season. He also led the Volunteers in assists with 3 apg as a senior.

McRae was named First Team All-SEC as both a senior and junior.

Sixers select three in second round

BROOKLYN, NY – The Philadelphia 76ers selected three players in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft: K.J. McDaniels (32nd overall), Jerami Grant (39th overall) and Vasilije Micic (52nd overall).

McDaniels (6-foot-6, 200) averaged 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals in 34 minutes per game this past season while shooting 46 percent from the floor. As a junior, he was the only player in the country to lead his team in points, rebounds, blocks, steals and three-pointers, and became just the second player in ACC history to do so for an entire season. He earned All-ACC honors and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award, and was named to the First Team All-ACC by the media last year.

Grant (6-8, 210) averaged 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 1 steal in 32 minutes per game this past season while shooting 50 percent from the floor. As a sophomore, the 20-year-old scored in double figures in 24 of 32 games played and posted 19 points three times. Grant’s father Harvey Grant and uncle Horace Grant both played in the NBA.

Micic (6-5, 203) averaged 11 points, 5 assists, 2 steals and 4 rebounds in 85 career professional games for Mega Vizura of the Serbian League, shooting 45 percent from the floor over four seasons. The 20-year-old Serbia native was one of 12 candidates for FIBA’s 2014 Player of the Year (Young Men).

Sixers draft Embiid, trade for Saric in first round

BROOKLYN, NY - The Sixers delected injured center Joel Embiid with the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and acquired the draft rights to Dario Saric,  the12th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, along with the Orlando Magic’s second round draft pick in 2015 and a future first round draft pick in exchange for the 10th overall pick, guard Elfrid Payton.

“We are delighted to welcome our two first round picks from this draft, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric,” said Sixers President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Sam Hinkie in a statement. “These two 20-year-olds represent another layer to the construction of our program. Joel is a rare 7-foot talent with remarkable gifts and a defensive mindset. We plan to work in lockstep with Joel to manage his rehabilitation and give him every opportunity to have a long and productive NBA career.

“Dario is an extremely versatile and highly accomplished player at various international levels. His basketball instincts, his ability to pass and his desire for greatness drew us to him. Our staff has tracked him across the globe for many years now, and we were ecstatic to be able to acquire him.“

This marks the third time the Sixers have held the third overall pick, with the most recent selection being Jerry Stackhouse in 1995. Recent notable players drafted third overall include Bradley Beal (2012), James Harden (2009), Deron Williams (2005) and Carmelo Anthony (2003). Michael Jordan was the third overall pick in 1984.

Embiid (7-foot, 250) averaged 12 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks and 1 steal in just 24 minutes per game this past season while shooting 63 percent from the floor. He was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and All-Big 12 Second Team. Embiid set school freshman records for blocks, rebounds and field goal percentage.

The 20-year-old tallied a team-high eight double-doubles, including seven over his final 17 games played. Embiid also recorded at least one block in 26 of his 28 games played. He had a season-high eight blocks against Oklahoma State on January 18, 2014.

Saric (6-10, 223), a 2014 NBA Draft early entry candidate after playing overseas for Cibona VIP Zagreb (Croatia), averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists this past season. He was named 2013 FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year, and helped lead Cibona Zagreb to an Adriatic League title as the Most Improved Player and Finals MVP.  The 20-year-old has long competed for his native Croatia’s national teams, most recently in the 2013 Eurobasket qualifying round.

Ray Didinger re-signs with WIP

PHILADELPHIA - SportsRadio 94WIP has reached a new agreement with Veteran Broadcaster and Pro Football Hall of Fame writer Ray Didinger.

Didinger has signed a multi-year deal which will expand his role on WIP and will include work on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT and KYW Newsradio.

The  popular Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow show that has been heard on Saturday (10 am - 1 pm) will be expanded to include a Sunday edition heard on air and on line at or through the app on mobile devices. He will make more frequent appearances on WIP throughout the year. Didinger will also be heard with Chris Stigall on Fridays during the football season and he will be doing commentary on KYW Newsradio and on 

"I'm very happy to continue my relationship with WIP. I'm delighted that I will now be able to partner with my good friend Glen Macnow on Sundays as well as Saturday. With the level of interest in this Eagles season, we will have plenty to talk about," said Didinger.

On Didinger’s expanded role, WIP FM/AM Operations Manager Andy Bloom commented, "Ray is one of the most respected and revered authorities in Philly sports. Our simple goal was to ensure Ray spent his entire radio career playing for one team, CBS Radio Philadelphia. We think with this agreement we've accomplished that goal."

USMNT advances to knockout round despite 1-0 setback to Germany

-courtesy of U.S. Soccer

 RECIFE, Brazil (June 26, 2014) - The U.S. Men's National Team fell 1-0 to Germany to conclude Group G play at the 2014 FIFA World Cup but combined with a 2-1 Portugal victory against Ghana in the other group match, it was enough to send the Americans to the Round of 16 for the second consecutive World Cup. 

The USA will now face the winner of Group H - Belgium - on July 1 at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision and Univision Deportes. The USA finished the group tied for second place on points with Portugal at four each, but the U.S. goes through to the knockout round and Portugal is eliminated based on a superior goal differential. The U.S. finished Group G play with four goals scored and four allowed while Portugal scored four, but allowed seven.

The lone goal of the game came in the 55th minute from German forward Thomas Muller and soon after at Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Asamoah Gyan scored for Ghana to equalize at 1-1 against Portugal in a match that was being played concurrently.

Thus started a span of 23 nerve-wracking minutes in which another Ghana goal would have put the United States out of the tournament on goal differential and put Ghana through in second place. Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo gave the USA some breathing room with a goal in the 80th minute to put his country ahead 2-1.

The match was played steady rain on a soggy field which stood up well despite rain that had been falling for hours before the match, causing serious flooding in Recife.

The USA had two chances to equalize in stoppage time of the second half (and a tie would have also put the USA in the Round of 16 regardless of the Portugal-Ghana result), but Germany defender Phillip Lahm's sliding block of Alejandro Bedoya's shot deep in the penalty box kept the U.S. off the board. Shortly after that, Clint Dempsey put a short-range header just over the bar. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard played a clean match making several safe grabs on low crosses.

For full standings and results, visit's 2014 FIFA World Cup homepage.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
GER - Thomas Muller, 55th minute: The goal came off a corner kick taken short from theright side. A cross was sent into the penalty area and towering center-back Per Mertesacker sent a powerful header on frame. It was well-saved by Tim Howard with a dive to his right but the rebound bounced out to Thomas Muller at the top of the box on the left side. Muller hit a perfect first-time shot with the inside of his right foot from 18 yards out that flew just inside the right post. GER 1, USA 0
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA - Omar Gonzalez, 14th minute: The Germans found some early space down the right side and Jerome Boateng crossed hard on the ground. Omar Gonzalez beat the German attacker to the ball and cleared away the dangerous cross that was skidding on the wet ground across the face of the goal.
USA - Omar Gonzalez, 14th minute: Gonzalez had another crucial clearance second later as Thomas Muller got through on a quick pass into the box and would have had a clear shot on goal from close range had Gonzalez not slide from the side to knock the ball out of danger, avoiding a foul that would have resulted in a penalty kick.
USA - Tim Howard, 35th minute: Mesut Ozil worked his way loose in the penalty box and had a good look at goal, shooting between the legs of the closing Matt Besler, but Howard stood his ground and knocked away the low, hard shot to keep the game scoreless. Omar Gonzalez swept away the rebound.
USA - Omar Gonzalez, 47th minute - On a dangerous curving cross from the right, Gonzalez was able to retreat quickly and jostle Mesut Ozil just enough to make him head the ball over the crossbar.
USA - Matt Besler, 83rd minute - Mesut Ozil popped free deep inside the U.S. penalty area, but took a touch that was a bit hard and Besler was able to sweep the ball away on a tackle.
GER -- Phillip Lahm, 90+3rd minute - A nice U.S. attack down the right side saw the Americans work the ball across the penalty area to the left side to Alejandro Bedoya. The U.S. midfielder momentarily had a look at goal, but a last-ditch slide by Lahm knocked the ball away.
Milestone Watch:
  • It is the first time in the history of the U.S. Men's National Team that the team has advanced out of the group phase in consecutive FIFA World Cup tournaments.
  • Clint Dempsey's was held scoreless, but his next World Cup tally would be the fifth of his career and match the record set by Landon Donovan
  • DaMarcus Beasley played in his 10th FIFA World Cup game, tying him for fourth all-time with Brian McBride and Claudio Reyna. Beasley is now one cap behind second-place Cobi Jones and Earnie Stewart (11 caps each in the FIFA World Cup).
  • Tim Howard made the seventh start and appearance of his World Cup career, which ties the U.S. MNT record among goalkeepers with Tony Meola.
  • Howard earned the 103rd appearance of his international career, breaking the goalkeeping record of 102 held by Kasey Keller. Howard ranks 11th on the all-time U.S. MNT appearances list.
Next on the Schedule:
The U.S. MNT faces the winner of Group H in the Round of 16 at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 1, at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil.
Broadcast information: ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision, Univision Deportes and ESPN Radio
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer | @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram
Additional Notes:
  • The USA is now 8-18-6 all-time in the FIFA World Cup while Germany moves to 62-20-20 all-time.
  • The USA is 3-7-0 all-time against Germany.
  • The 13th-ranked USA faced a top-10 FIFA-ranked opponent for the 59th time in its history. The USA is now 16-34-9 all-time against top-10 teams in FIFA's ranking system and 9-23-3 against top-5 teams.
  • The U.S. MNT moves to 5-2-2 in 2014.
  • The USA is now 2-5-1 all-time in games played in Brazil.
  • U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's starting lineup featured Tim Howard in goal and one change to the back line from the Ghana match as Omar Gonzalez got his first start of the World Cup, lining up at center back next to Matt Besler along with left back DaMarcus Beasley and right back Fabian Johnson
  • The USA's 4-5-1 formation included holding midfielders Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman, along with Graham Zusi on the left, Brad Davis (who made his first start and saw his first minutes of the World Cup) on the right and Michael Bradley in the center.
  • As he did against Portugal, Clint Dempsey played up front, and of course wore the captain's armband.
  • The USA is 9-4-3 in games with Dempsey as the team captain.
  • The USA is now 32-12-9 all-time under Klinsmann.
  • Thursday's game against No. 2 Germany marked the sixth occasion in which the U.S. MNT played top-5 FIFA-ranked teams in back-to-back games.
  • U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann made two subs in the match, sending on Alejandro Bedoya for Brad Davis in the 59th minute and DeAndre Yedlin for Graham Zusi in the 84th minute. It was the second game in a row in which Yedlin has come on as a sub.
  • The USA played without forward Jozy Altidore (hamstring).
USA Disciplinary Notes:
  • All U.S. players are eligible for the Round of 16 match.
  • Jermaine Jones (caution on June 22), Omar Gonzalez and Kyle Beckerman (who both picked up cautions against Germany) carry yellow cards into the next match. Another caution during any game through the quarterfinals for the trio would result in one-game suspension.
  • Yellow cards clear heading into the semifinals.
- U.S. Men's National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. Men's National Team vs. Germany
Date: June 26, 2014
Competition: 2014 FIFA World Cup - Group G
Venue: Arena Pernambuco; Recife, Brazil
Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET
Attendance: 41,876
Weather: 73 degrees, rainy
Scoring Summary:       1 2 F
USA                             0 0 0
GER                             0 1 1
GER - Thomas Muller                         55th minute
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 23-Fabian Johnson, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 15-Kyle Beckerman, 13-Jermaine Jones; 14-Brad Davis (11-Alejandro Bedoya, 59), 4- Michael Bradley, 19- Graham Zusi (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 84) 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.)
Subs Not Used: 6-John Brooks, 10-Mix Diskerud, 12-Brad Guzan, 16-Julian Green, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 20-Geoff Cameron, 21-Timmy Chandler, 22-Nick Rimando, 23-Aron Johannsson
Not Available: 17-Jozy Altidore
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
GER : 1-Manuel Neuer; 4-Benedikt Howedes, 5-Mats Hummels, 17-Per Mertesacker, 20-Jerome Boateng; 7-Bastian Schweinsteiger (19-Mario Gotze,76), 16-Phillip Lahm, 18-Toni Kroos; 8-Mesut Ozil (9-Andre Schurrle, 89), 10-Lukas Podolski (11-Miroslav Klose, 46), 13-Thomas Muller
Subs not used: 2-Kevin Grosskreutz, 3-Matthias Ginter, 6-Sami Khedira, 12-Ron-Robert Zieler, 14-Julian Draxler, 15-Erik Durm, 21-Shkodran Mustafi, 22-Roman Weidenfeller, 23-Christoph Kramer
Head coach: Joachim Low
Stats Summary: USA / GER
Shots: 4 / 13
Shots on Goal: 1 / 6
Saves: 5 / 0
Corner Kicks: 2 / 3
Fouls: 15 / 9
Offside: 2 / 7
Misconduct Summary:
GER - Benedikt Howedes (caution)    11th minute
USA - Omar Gonzalez (caution)         37
USA - Kyle Beckerman (caution)        62
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)
Assistant Referee 1: Abduxamidullo Rasulov (UZB)
Assistant Referee 2: Bakhadyr Kochkarov (KGZ)
Fourth Official: Alioum (CMR)
Budweiser Man of the Match: Kyle Beckerman

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Extra Points: Anatomy of the offseason star - - your one stop community web portal for all your Central Pennsylvania News, Sports and Weather, powered by WTAJ Your News Leader

Extra Points: Anatomy of the offseason star - - your one stop community web portal for all your Central Pennsylvania News, Sports and Weather, powered by WTAJ Your News Leader

Schenn gets to stick around

Ending months of speculation, as well as recent rumors that he might be moved around draft time, the Philadelphia Flyers locked up young winger Brayden Schenn on Monday night to a contract extension.

A restricted free agent, Schenn will be back thanks to a two-year deal worth $5 million, with an average annual cap hit of $2.5 million per season. In actuality, the pact pays the 22-year-old native of Saskatchewan $2.25M for the upcoming season and $2.75M in the final year -- after which he becomes an RFA once more.

Schenn posted career highs of 20 goals, 21 assists and 41 points while participating in all 82 regular-season games for the Flyers this past campaign. Since breaking into the league with the Kings during the 2009-10 season, he has compiled 40 goals and 47 assists over 192 games, all but nine of those in Philadelphia.

With the signing, the club's lone RFAs are minor-league forwards Tye McGinn and Jason Akeson. Steve Downie, Hal Gill and Adam Hall remain unrestricted free agents.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Umberger returns to Philadelphia at the price of Hartnell

What is it about June 23? 

A player who never should have had to leave the franchise, one whose memorable playoff round against the Montreal Canadiens six years ago appeared to have cemented his place as a regular, has been re-acquired.

In a Monday bombshell revealed at high noon, the Flyers announced that R.J. Umberger was brought back from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Scott Hartnell. A fourth-round pick in the draft next year was also picked up.

It's the fifth major deal the franchise has made in the last three years on this specific date. Three years ago, Paul Holmgren sent Mike Richards to the Kings for Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, shipped Jeff Carter to Columbus for Jake Voracek and the draft picks which led to Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins, then signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a $51 million contract. Two years back, it was Luke Schenn from Toronto for James van Riemsdyk. And now this.

"R.J. is a versatile guy who can play all positions," Flyers head coach Craig Berube said in a press release issued shortly after the announcement. "He's a good penalty killer who skates well. He's a veteran who has been around a long time and knows how to play the game properly. He'll be used in a lot of different areas.I think with our team it is nice to have a real versatile guy like him."

A simple crunching of the numbers reveals the up-side to the transaction: Hartnell had five years remaining and $23.75 million cap hit on a lengthy contract extension signed in 2012, while Umberger only has three years and $13.8 million left on his current deal. Cap relief in the short term doesn't look satisfying, but if Ron Hextall is looking to the future and excising contracts instead of adding on, that's a significant upgrade and cause for elation.

"Cap flexibility moving forward was part of the thought process here and that is attractive to us. Three years down the road and looking ahead, we got guys who will be up," Hextall stated."When you look at a move, you look at a lot of things...tomorrow, a year, two years, three years, four years.

It's also key to note that Hartnell had a no-movement clause built into his latest contract, so whatever spurred the move might have been tipped behind closed doors between player and management. Hextall later revealed that the club came to Hartnell with the trade last week, and that the latter took some time to digest the ramifications. He also admitted it's a lateral move from a player standpoint.

The 32-year-old Hartnell leaves behind seven seasons, 157 goals, 326 points and 908 penalty minutes in 517 regular-season games, then 75 playoff appearances during which he totaled 16 scores and 25 helpers. Despite first-line minutes, he was never able to capture the magic of a career-best 37 goals, aided by the passing of Claude Giroux, in the 2011-12 campaign.

Hartnell's speed and discipline was also a concern over the last two seasons, something which precipitated a drop-off in his minutes. Umberger saw a dip in his playing time under Todd Richards.

"The number one thing is that we needed to get quicker up front," added Hextall.

Umberger, also 32, picked up 18 goals and 16 assists in 74 games with the Jackets last season. He had connected for 13 goals and 37 assists over 74 games for the Flyers in 2007-08, before being a salary-cap casualty roughly one month after the Flyers' season ended against the Penguins in the East Finals. He's played the last six seasons in Ohio's capital and took part in Columbus' only two playoff trips in that span.

The native of the Pittsburgh area had participated in three full NHL seasons, before his coming-out party in the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the top-seeded Habs. In that five-game triumph, Umberger netted eight of his 10 goals that postseason, doing more than the celebrated Danny Briere to help the Orange and Black pull off the series upset.

"I guess no matter where I was going, it was going to be a surprise. But I wasn't expecting it to happen this morning. It was apparent that the team wanted to play the younger guys more. We've had over the last couple years some great young talent, and they deserve to play. Plus, there are some guys waiting to come up next year, so it's totally understandable," Umberger said on a conference call with local press. "It was time to move on to somewhere else and finish my career."

As for immediate gains, it does open up the possibility of either a trade or signing in the near future for the open winger spot on the presumed first-line Giroux-Jake Voracek pairing.  There's also little doubt that Umberger isn't a replacement on the top line for Hartnell. Rumors and internet speculation just after season's end has pinned Winnipeg's Evander Kane as a possibility to fill that slot up front.

In addition, the solution to the Vinny Lecavalier question is still forthcoming, with speculation abounding that his lack of cohesion in Berube's system mandates a move. There are also rumors of an ancillary deal between the Flyers and Edmonton Oilers -- but nothing of more substance than had been bandied about during the second half of the regular season.

If you recall, on June 23, 2011, those of us in the business of news gathering had to track down unsubstantiated rumors of a Brayden Coburn contract extension and the acquisition of the rights to free-agent forward Michal Handzus -- both of which wound up being dead ends. 

Hartnell moves on having accumulated six hat tricks during his time in Philadelphia, the most for a departing player since Eric Lindros (2000) and John LeClair (2004) both left the franchise with 12 trifectas. 

Umberger was a member of the John Stevens coached 2005 Calder Cup winning Philadelphia Phantoms, and earned a promotion to the big club the following season.

"It's never easy to make a trade. And it's never easy to make a trade with a guy who's been a really good Flyer," Hextall added. "If you look at what Scott Hartnell has done for the franchise, on the ice and off the ice, it's been a lot. So part of that, we'll all miss Scott and his personality."

MO Radio Show on Sports Live w/NFL Insider John McMullen 06/23 by Mo Radio Show | Sports Podcasts

MO Radio Show on Sports Live w/NFL Insider John McMullen 06/23 by Mo Radio Show | Sports Podcasts

Meet the Flyers' other picks at #17

Our fair city will be hosting the 2014 NHL Entry Draft this coming Friday and Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, the first time it's occurred in the 47-year history of the franchise.

For only the third time in club history, the Philadelphia Flyers' first pick in the upcoming draft will be located at No. 17.

Looking past the immediate hopes, dreams and fears of the fandom and the thought process of the front office in making a mid-first-round choice, there's not very far to go for the team to make an impression with this particular selection.

Let's hope Ron Hextall and the rest of the brain trust can come up with a better, longer-lasting player  than the two gentlemen taken previously with that slot. Here's a brief look at both.

One of Peter Laviolette's assistant coaches until this past October, Kevin McCarthy was one of the first players to bookend his career in Philadelphia. He spent parts of 10 seasons patrolling NHL bluelines, and was even well-respected enough to assume the captaincy for one club. He recorded 258 points and 527 penalty minutes over 537 regular-season appearances from 1977-87 -- but only 3-17-20 and 57 of those came with the Flyers franchise.

Taken from Winnipeg of the Western Hockey League with a pick strangely enough based upon the
Flyers' standing from the previous season and not from the fleecing of another team, McCarthy was supposed to represent one of the new vanguard of defensemen taken by Keith Allen who could move the puck and move bodies at the same time.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder made an impact during his rookie season under Fred Shero with a respectable 17 points (2G, 15A) and plus-29 rating over 62 games despite missing more than a month with a sprained right knee. However, things changed drastically in his sophomore campaign with Bob McCammon at the helm. McCarthy saw his ice time reduced and the press box view more prevalent, and on December 29, 1978 he was bundled off to the Canucks with Drew Callander for forward Dennis Ververgaert. In typical Flyers front office fashion, the deal was struck because of the potential gain.

"Kevin is a very positive kid," Allen said in Full Spectrum. "But Ververgaert is a guy who should get 30 to 35 goals for us. Everyone is concerned with his attitude, but he's a solid player in every way."

Note: final tally for Ververgaert was 23 in 95 games over less than two seasons.

McCarthy needed to be positive after a hip injury cost him the rest of the 78-79 season, but he recovered enough to be a mainstay on the Vancouver rearguard -- and assumed the role of team captain from 1979 through the miracle run to the Cup Finals in the Spring of '82 -- until a trade two-thirds of the way into the 1983-84 season shipped him to lowly Pittsburgh.

It seemed a comeback story was in the works as now GM Bob Clarke signed McCarthy as a free agent in the Summer of 1985, once the Pens were through excising veterans from their roster to build around Mario Lemieux. In the offseason, Miro Dvorak returned to Czechoslovakia and head coach Mike Keenan wasn't pleased with Thomas Eriksson's effort, yet McCarthy did not play well enough in camp to garner more than a spot with the Hershey Bears.

Over the next two seasons, he participated in just six games, as an injury replacement. McCarthy did end up winning the Calder Cup as a veteran backliner for the 1988 Hershey Bears under current Flyers assistant John Paddock.

To be charitable, Mark Suzor's tenure in Orange and Black was as memorable as it was long-lasting.

A left-handed shooting defenseman out of Ontario who plied his trade for the Kingston Canadians of the Ontario Hockey Association, Suzor was taken in the first round of the 1976 draft after connecting for 16 goals, 30 assists and 108 PIM in 48 games during his third and final year in juniors.

Suzor didn't make an impression close to McCarthy's, and was sent down to the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League for the balance of the 1976-77 season.

He performed in his NHL debut on March 10, 1977 in a 7-2 Spectrum trashing of the Cleveland Barons and stayed for two more wins before returning to Western Mass. His fourth and final Flyers appearance came in a season-ending 3-3 tie with the Atlanta Flames, giving Suzor the distinction of never having lost a game here (3-0-1) in which he took at least one turn on the ice.

That wouldn't be the case the following season, as Allen sprang into action in August of '77 and shipped Suzor to Denver for equally-disappointing winger Barry Dean. Given a bigger role on a losing club, Suzor totaled four goals and 19 points in 60 games for the Rockies and never saw NHL ice again, kicking between the AHL and IHL until his career-ending eight-game stint for the Toledo Goaldiggers in 1980-81.


Looking back at the draft in 10-year increments yields some interesting results from Allen, Clarke and Holmgren.

In 1974, with the club's seventh-round pick (125th overall), Allen chose goaltender Rejean Lemelin. Lemelin spent the bulk of his professional career with the Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins, while he's most remembered here for his 13-year tenure as goaltending coach (1996-2009).

Ten years later, Clarke's first draft yielded a bonanza of personality thanks to Greg Smyth (22nd overall), Scott Mellanby (27th) and Jeff Chychrun (37th) in the second round alone, plus John Stevens (fifth round).

Smyth was more famous as a Flyer for his poor attitude, work habits and mohawk haircut than his actual play, and was flipped to Quebec in 1988 for Terry Carkner.

Mellanby made his NHL debut late in the 1985-86 season, and became a regular the following year under Mike Keenan -- who rode Mellanby mercilessly and taunted him about his father's connection with the CBC and his relationship with Clarke. He tallied 83 goals and 197 points in 355 regular-season games adding nine goals and 11 assists in 50 playoff appearances for Philadelphia.

Chychrun spent parts of five seasons in Philly, more a punisher than a legitimate defenseman after 20 points and 608 penalty minutes in 199 contests. Stevens only took part in nine NHL games over two seasons at the end of Keenan's tenure, but has served the franchise as Phantoms and Flyers head coach, winning a Calder Cup in 2005.

In 1994, Clarke's first shot in his second tenure as GM, the club had no first or second round picks. First choice: Artem, not that one who plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the one born in 1976, a defenseman, who never played in North America. His next notable selection was in the sixth round, known best as Phil Esposito's son-in-law, the player who scored in overtime of Game 3 in the 1996 Eastern Conference Semifinals for Tampa Bay -- Alexander Selivanov. 

One round later, with the 166th pick, it was Colin Forbes. He totaled 33 goals and 61 points over 311 games from 1996-99 and was used as bait to snag Mikael Andersson and Sandy McCarthy from the Lightning in March of 1999. At 6-foot-plus and over 200 pounds, Forbes was a large enough presence to be used on the top line along with Eric Lindros and John LeClair post-Legion. In the ninth round, it was Johan Hedberg out of Leksands, who played 11 years in the NHL, the last in 2013 with New Jersey.

The last season where there was a draft, but no season, occurred 10 years ago. It was not one of Clarke's finest hours as the sands in the hourglass nearly reached the bottom. Hamstrung again without picks in the first two rounds, the first choice, 27th overall, was the forgettable Rob Bellamy. His second pick in the fourth round (124th overall) was David Laliberte, who potted two goals and one assist in his lone 11 NHL games for the Flyers in 2009-10.

Which brings us to the 170th selection in the draft: Ladislav Scurko. The now-28-year-old confessed to killing a referee in January of 2008 in Slovakia. He was released from prison in 2011, but eventually convicted of the crime during a new trial in July of 2012 and sentenced to eight years based on diminished sanity. Scurko never made it higher than the Western Hockey League of Canadian juniors before returning to Europe.

Goaltender Martin Houle (8th round, 1 game) and forward Triston Grant (9 games, 2006-07) was taken in the ninth round and didn't make much of an impact on a roster which was part of the worst season in franchise history.

Portugal stuns U.S. with late goal

MANAUS, Brazil - In hot, humid conditions at Arena Amazonia, the U.S. Men's National Team earned one valuable point in a 2-2 draw against No. 4 Portugal during its second match of Group G play at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey each scored for the USA with Dempsey's 81st-minute tally giving the USA a 2-1, come-from-behind lead.

The U.S. was seconds away from clinching a spot in the Round of 16 as a win would have sent the U.S. through and Portugal would have been eliminated. However, Portugal's Silvestre Varela tallied the latest of equalizers in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time on virtually the last touch of the game.

The USA is now tied atop Group G with Germany at points each, but Germany holds the tiebreaker based on goal differential. The USA will face Germany in its Group G finale on Thursday, June 26, at 12 p.m. ET (ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision) and can clinch a spot in the Round of 16 in the following ways:

    A victory against Germany, which would also give the USA the group title
    A draw against Germany
    A draw between Ghana and Portugal in the other Group G match, which will be played concurrently to USA vs. Germany
    A loss combined with ending group play with superior goal differential over the winner between Ghana and Portugal

For full standings and results, visit's 2014 FIFA World Cup homepage.

Goal Scoring Rundown:

POR - Nani (unassisted), 5th minute: Portugal capitalized on a mistake to go ahead early in the match. The sequence started on the left side from Andre Almeida to Miguel Veloso, who then crossed into the middle of the box. Central defender Geoff Cameron failed to clear the ball as it skipped off his left foot and straight to Portugal forward Nani, who found himself alone in front of the U.S. net. Nani settled and powered the ball over U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard to make it 1-0. USA 0, POR 1

USA - Jermaine Jones (unassisted), 64th minute: After the goal, the U.S. was the aggressor and the more dominant team and finally got the goal it had seemingly earned. The U.S. earned a corner kick from the right and Graham Zusi's delivery was deflected away by Portugal's defense. U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones collected outside the box toward the left, took a touch inside to his right to make space, and with Nani defending, crushed his 27-yard shot just inside the right post into the side netting as Portugal goalkeeper Beto could only watch flat-footed. USA 1, POR 1

USA - Clint Dempsey (Graham Zusi), 81st minute: Michael Bradley passed to second-half sub DeAndre Yedlin on the right, and the young defender - who played in the midfield after coming on for Alejandro Bedoya in the 72nd minute - took the ball to the end line and crossed on the ground into the middle. The ball was deflected and Bradley got a shot attempt, which was blocked. The ball ricocheted to Graham Zusi on the left, and he calmly clipped a short left-footed cross over Portugal's Joao Pereira to Clint Dempsey, who guided the ball into the net from the doorstep with his mid-section for the go-ahead goal. USA 2, POR 1

POR - Silvestre Varela (Cristiano Ronaldo), 90+5th minute: With the USA clinging onto the lead and just seconds left in the five minutes of allotted stoppage time, Cristiano Ronaldo crossed from the right side on a counter attack. The connection to Silvestre Varela was pin-point as Varela dove to powerfully head the ball from the edge of the six-yard box into the right side of the net for the dramatic equalizer. USA 2, POR 2

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:

POR - Beto, 17th minute: The USA's best scoring chance in the first half from the run of play came from Michael Bradley's pass from the midfield to Clint Dempsey who was sprinting into the right side of the box. The well-timed run led to Dempsey getting a look at the goal from a stiff angle in the right side of the box, but his shot toward the near post was knocked away by Portugal goalkeeper Beto.

POR - Beto, 27th minute: Clint Dempsey once again challenged the Portugal defense when he was set up Graham Zusi on the right. Dempsey had a tight window as he fended off a defender, and then shot right-footed toward the near right post, where Beto cleaned up with the foot save.

USA - Tim Howard, 42nd minute: Portugal's counter attack went through Cristiano Ronaldo on the left side, where he crossed to a wide-open Nani on the right. Nani shot from outside the box, trying to find the left side of the frame, but Howard dove for the save, eventually leading to a free kick that Ronaldo fired over the goal.

USA - Tim Howard, 45th minute: Nani's strike from outside the box snuck pass diving U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, who tried to bat the ball away. Instead, it clipped off his glove and hit the right post flush for a rebound. First-half sub Eder had a chance to strike the bouncing ball at goal, but the off-balance Howard managed to stick up his left hand to spectacularly lift the ball over the goal or it would have been 2-0.

POR - Ricardo Costa, 55th minute: The USA's most clear-cut scoring opportunity to this point pulled a last-ditch block from Portugal's defense. Graham Zusi led Fabian Johnson on the right side. Johnson brought the ball to the end line and drew goalkeeper Beto toward him before crossing to Michael Bradley in the middle of the box. With Beto on the ground, Bradley shot at the goal from almost point blank range and somehow sprawling Portugal defender Ricardo Costa cleared the ball off the line with his left knee.

Milestone Watch:

    Clint Dempsey scored his second goal in this year's FIFA World Cup and his fourth in tournament history. His four goals tie Bert Patenaude for second on the all-time USA list, and is one goal behind Landon Donovan's five tallies.

    Dempsey moved past Eric Wynalda in all-time appearances with his 107th game on Sunday and sits in ninth place on the list. Wynalda had 106 caps from 1990-2000.

    Dempsey earned his eighth FIFA World Cup cap, which moves him into a tie for ninth place on the U.S. MNT list alongside Marcelo Balboa and Wynalda.

    With his 102nd international appearance, Tim Howard ties the U.S. MNT goalkeeping record set by Kasey Keller (102 caps from 1990-2007). Howard and Keller are tied for 11th on the all-time caps list overall.

    DaMarcus Beasley, the only USA player to appear in four FIFA World Cups, played in his ninth World Cup game, which ties him for sixth on the U.S. MNT's all-time list with Eddie Pope and Tab Ramos. Beasley also played in the 118th match of his career as he sits in fifth place on the all-time list, nine caps behind fourth-place Balboa (127).

    Midfielder Michael Bradley moved past Steve Cherundolo on the all-time caps list with his 88th appearance. Bradley is 19th, two caps shy of 18th-place John Harkes (90 from 1987-2000).

Next on the Schedule:

The U.S. MNT faces Germany in the third and final game of Group G play at the 2014 FIFA World Cup at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 26, at Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil.
Broadcast information: ESPN, WatchESPN, Univision and ESPN Radio
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer); Facebook; Instagram

Additional Notes:

    The USA is now 8-17-6 all-time in the FIFA World Cup while Portugal moves to 12-9-4 all-time.
    The USA is 2-2-2 all-time against Portugal.
    The 13th-ranked USA faced a top-10 FIFA-ranked opponent for the 58th time in its history. The USA is now 16-33-9 all-time against top-10 teams in FIFA's ranking system and 9-22-3 against top-5 teams.
    The U.S. MNT moves to 5-1-2 in 2014.
    The USA is now 2-4-1 all-time in games played in Brazil.
    U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's starting lineup featured Tim Howard in goal and the same back line from the Ghana match: left back DaMarcus Beasley, right back Fabian Johnson and center backs Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler.
    The USA's midfield-heavy 4-5-1 formation included holding midfielders Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman, along with Graham Zusi on the left, Alejandro Bedoya on the right and Michael Bradley in the center.
    Clint Dempsey played up front and wore the captain's armband.
    The USA is 9-3-3 in games with Dempsey as the team captain.
    DeAndre Yedlin made his FIFA World Cup debut when he replaced Bedoya in the 72nd minute. Yedlin played in the midfield after mostly playing at right back both professionally and internationally.
    Chris Wondolowski replaced Dempsey in the 87th minute to earn his first cap in a FIFA World Cup.
    In the first minute of second-half stoppage time, Klinsmann utilized his final substitution when he brought in Omar Gonzalez for Zusi.
    The USA is now 32-11-9 all-time under Klinsmann.
    The U.S. is 0-14-2 when trailing at halftime in FIFA World Cup play.
    When the USA faces No. 2 Germany on June 26, it will mark the sixth occasion in which the U.S. MNT will play top-5 FIFA-ranked teams in back-to-back games.
    The USA played without forward Jozy Altidore (hamstring). Portugal was without defender Pepe (suspended), forward Hugo Almeida (thigh), midfielder Fabio Coentrao (groin) and goalkeeper Rui Patricio (thigh).

Group G Disciplinary Notes:

    Germany: No infractions through two Group G games
    Ghana: Mohammed Rabiu (caution on June 16; another caution during group stage through quarterfinals would result in one-game suspension); Sulley Muntari (served his one-game suspension on June 22 against the USA; will be available for selection on June 26 against Portugal)
    Portugal: Pepe (served his one-game suspension on June 22 against the USA; should be available for selection on June 26 against Ghana); Joao Pereira (caution on June 16; another caution during group stage through quarterfinals would result in one-game suspension)
    USA: Jermaine Jones (caution on June 22; another caution during group stage through quarterfinals would result in one-game suspension)
    For players who have only one caution through the conclusion of the quarterfinal stage, that yellow card clears from his record heading into the semifinals.

- U.S. Men's National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Men's National Team vs. Portugal
Date: June 22, 2014
Competition: 2014 FIFA World Cup - Group G
Venue: Arena Amazonia; Manaus, Brazil
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET
Attendance: 40,123
Weather: 86 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        0 2 2
POR                        1 1 2

POR -- Nani                                               5th minute
USA -- Jermaine Jones                               64
USA -- Clint Dempsey (Graham Zusi)           81
POR -- Silvestre Varela (Cristiano Ronaldo)  90+5

USA: 1-Tim Howard; 23-Fabian Johnson, 20-Geoff Cameron, 5-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 15-Kyle Beckerman, 13-Jermaine Jones; 11-Alejandro Bedoya (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 72), 4- Michael Bradley, 19- Graham Zusi (3-Omar Gonzalez, 90+1); 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.) (18-Chris Wondolowski, 87)
Subs Not Used: 6-John Brooks, 10-Mix Diskerud, 12-Brad Guzan, 14-Brad Davis, 16-Julian Green, 21-Timmy Chandler, 22-Nick Rimando, 23-Aron Johannsson
Not Available: 17-Jozy Altidore
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

POR: 22-Beto; 2-Bruno Alves, 13-Ricardo Costa, 19-Andre Almeida (6-William Carvalho, 46), 21-Joao Pereira; 4-Miguel Veloso, 8-Joao Moutinho, 16-Raul Meireles (18-Silvestre Varela, 69); 7-Cristiano Ronaldo (capt.), 17-Nani, 23-Heider Postiga (11-Eder, 16)
Subs not used: 1-Eduardo; 9-Hugo Almeida, 10-Vierinha, 12-Rui Patricio, 14-Luis Neto, 15-Rafa Silva, 20-Ruben Amorim
Not Available: 3-Pepe (suspended), 5-Fabio Coentrao, 9-Hugo Almeida, 12-Rui Patricio
Head Coach: Paulo Bento

Stats Summary: USA / POR
Shots: 15 / 21
Shots on Goal: 5 / 7
Saves: 5 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 4
Fouls: 11 / 14
Offside: 1 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
USA -- Jermaine Jones (caution)        75th minute

Referee: Nestor Pitana (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Hernan Maidana (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Pablo Belatti (ARG)
Fourth Official: Walter Lopez (GUA)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Tim Howard

Flyers to open season in Boston

PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Flyers, in conjunction with the National Hockey League, unveiled their schedule for the 2014-15 season over the weekend.

The Flyers will open their 48th NHL season on Wednesday, October 8 at Boston, with the home opener coming the next night on Thursday, October 9 vs. New Jersey.  The Flyers will close the season at home when they host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, April 11, 2015.

The NHL heads into its second season under the current alignment of four divisions –two each in the Eastern and Western Conference.  The two Eastern Conference divisions contain eight teams each and the two in the Western Conference each have seven teams. Once again this year, the Flyers will play all of their divisional opponents at least four times – twice at home and twice on the road.  The schedule format includes an additional game against two of their in-division counterparts for a total of five.  This year, the Flyers’ five-game opponents are Carolina and Columbus.  They will visit the Hurricanes a total of three times and will host the Blue Jackets three times.  The Flyers will play a total of 30 games against opponents in their division.

The Flyers will play the eight Atlantic Division teams three times each for a total of 24 games against that division.  The Flyers will play two home games and one road game against Detroit, Florida, Ottawa and Tampa Bay.  They will play two road games and one home game against Boston, Buffalo, Montreal and Toronto.  The breakdown of home and road games against each Atlantic Division team is the reverse of what it was in the 2013-14 season.

The Flyers will again play a home-and-home series with every Western Conference team, assuring that fans will have the opportunity to see every NHL club at the Wells Fargo Center at least once this season.  The Flyers will play a total of 28 games against the Western Conference, which is split into the Central Division and the Pacific Division.

The Flyers will enjoy a more balanced schedule this year than they have in recent years, with between 10 and 14 games each month.  Their heaviest month of travel comes in December, when they will play 10 of 14 games on the road, and their busiest month at home comes in January when they play nine of 14 at the Wells Fargo Center.

The early part of the season includes a visit from the 2014 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on October 28 and the annual Black Friday game, which takes place on November 28 vs. the New York Rangers at 1:00.

The Flyers will visit Dallas and Chicago as part of a three-game road trip in October; after that, they won’t play more than two games in a row on the road or leave the Eastern time zone until early December.  The first extended road trip of the season comes from Nov. 29 – December 9.  After a trip to Madison Square Garden on the 29th, the Flyers will head to California to visit San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles before hitting Columbus on the way home.

A four-game homestand follows before the Flyers depart for their annual holiday season road trip, which comes while Disney on Ice Presents Frozen takes over the Wells Fargo Center December 25 through January 4.  This year’s journey is an eight-game trip split into two halves, with three games before Christmas and five games after.  Overall, the stretch runs from Dec. 20 in Toronto to Jan. 3 at New Jersey, with the club returning home to host Ottawa on Jan. 6.

The second half of the season includes a season-high five-game homestand from Jan. 20 – Feb. 5, which starts off with the first of two visits on the season from  Pittsburgh.  The season also concludes with a four-game homestand that begins with Pittsburgh’s second visit, on April 5.  After they return from their holiday trip on Jan. 3, the Flyers only have to deal with two trips of more than two games – a four-game stretch from Feb. 8-15 that’s entirely within the Eastern time zone, and another four-game trip from March 15-21. 

Also on the schedule is the 38th annual Flyers Wives Carnival, which will take place on Sunday, March 1 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Gladiators edge Soul with Hail Mary

PHILADELPHIA – A last-second, 47-yard, Hail Mary pass from Shane Austin to Dominic Goodman sent the Philadelphia Soul (6-8) home with another heart-breaking loss to the Cleveland Gladiators, 69-68 in front of 8,033 fans at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night. 

Austin tied a League record with 11 touchdowns on the evening.

“We were in position to win tonight,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel of the final play.  “We knocked the ball down but they made the catch – it is as simple as that.  Luck has not been on our side, but we have to keep grinding to make it to the playoffs.”

Philadelphia’s offense was led by Derrick Ross who had 19 rushing yards for three touchdowns.  Leading the receiving corps was Tiger Jones with six receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns.  V’Keon Lacey also helped by putting up six receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown, while Markee White had four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown.  Emery Sammons finished with three receptions for 25 yards and one touchdown.

Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh finished the night by completing 19-of-27 passes for 250 yards and five touchdowns and one interception.

Defensively the Soul was led by Riddell Defensive Player of the Game, James Romain who had 7.0 total tackles and two pass breakups.  Also for Philadelphia, LaRico Stevenson had 5.0 total tackles.  Both Calvin Fance and Brandon Perkins each had a sack for the night.

Cleveland’s offense was led by Russell Athletic Offensive Player of Game, Shane Austin as he completed 26-of-040 passes for 409 yards and a franchise-record setting 11 touchdowns.  Dominick Goodman had 10 receptions for 168 yards and three touchdowns, while J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game, Thyron Lewis tallied eight receptions for 172 yards and four touchdowns.

Gladiator defense was led by Marrio Norman with 7.0 total tackles.  Both Joe Phinisee and Anthony Degrate had 5.0 total tackles for Cleveland.  Randy Colling had the only sack of the night for the Gladiators.

The first quarter kicked off with a Gladiators touchdown, and a missed extra point.  Jones caught Austin’s pass for 23 yards three minutes into the game.  The Soul responded shortly after when Sammons caught Raudabaugh’s 20-yard pass.  New kicker, Jon Striefsky also missed the extra point and with 10:51 left in the first, Philadelphia and Cleveland were tied 6-6.  Four minutes later Cleveland’s Goodman scored on a 17-yard reception from Austin, before Pettrey missed another extra point.  Tiger Jones scored an easy touchdown, being unmarked and able to catch Raudabaugh’s long 40-yard throw.  Striefsky’s extra point kick was good and at 4:19 the Soul were leading 13-12.  With 20 seconds left in the first, Soul defense held strong as Fance forced a fumble that was recovered by Bryan Robinson in the Gladiators for a Soul touchdown, and at the end of the quarter, Philadelphia led Cleveland 20-12.

Soul defense continued to hold strong in the beginning of the second quarter, holding off the Gladiators to third down before they scored.  Austin’s 47-yard pass proved successful when Lewis’ touchdown catch put the Soul only ahead by two points.  Jones got on the board again and after a penalty, Striefsky still gained the extra point from 28 yards out.  Jones’ touchdown put the Soul up 27-18 with 9:20 left in the first half.  Cleveland’s Lewis also got on the board again after connecting with Austin for a 40-yard catch and reducing Philadelphia’s lead to 27-25.  Soul’s Little quickly answered with a 55-yard kick return touchdown.  With less than a minute to go in the half, Gladiator Collin Taylor caught a nine-yard pass from Austin to score, and once again Pettrey missed the extra point, his team trailing by three points.  Ross furthered that lead for Philadelphia after rushing a yard for a touchdown, followed by another successful extra point kick for Striefsky.  At the end of the first half, the Soul led the Gladiators 41-31.

The third quarter started off slow for Philadelphia, with an interception for Raudabaugh.  Cleveland’s Lewis had another touchdown, catching Austin’s 14-yard pass.  Pettery was successful with his extra point kick, and with 10:51 left in the third, the Gladiators trailed the Soul 41-38.  Ross made it 48-38 after rushing one yard.  The Gladiator’s Goodman scored his second touchdown of the night after receiving Austin’s 17-yard pass.  With 6:03 remaining in the quarter, Cleveland trailed Philadelphia by four.  The third quarter ended with the Soul leading the Gladiators 48-44.

Ross’ 1-yard touchdown run kicked off the fourth quarter, 12:34 minutes remaining, putting the Soul up 55-46.  Cleveland’s Taylor received a 7-yard pass from Austin to answer Ross’ touchdown.  A failed two-point conversion kept the Soul in the lead, 55-50 with 8:09 left in the game.  Philadelphia added 12 points to their lead when Lacey caught Raudabaugh’s 7-yard pass.  The Soul led the Gladiators 62-50 with less than three minutes remaining in the game.  Cleveland responded when Taylor received a 2-yard pass from Austin, cutting Philadelphia’s lead to 62-57.   The Gladiators took the lead with 33 seconds remaining in the game after Austin connected with Lewis again.  Their two-point conversion attempt failed, and with under a minute remaining in the game, Cleveland led Philadelphia 63-62.  The Soul answered when White caught Raudabaugh’s 3-yard pass with two seconds left in the game, making it 68-63.  Cleveland used those last two seconds to win the game when Goodman caught Austin’s 47-yard Hail Mary deflected pass, and beat the Soul, 69-68.

In Week 16, the Soul travel to Des Moines, Iowa to play the Iowa Barnstormers for the last time this season.  The game will kick off Saturday, June 28 at 8:05 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Arena.

Russell Athletic Offensive Player: Cleveland’s Shane Austin

Riddell Defensive Player: Philadelphia’s James Romain

J Lewis Small AFL Playmaker:  Cleveland’s Thyron Lewis

Cutter’s Catch of the Game: Cleveland’s Goodman caught a 47-yard pass from Austin in the last play of the game to seal the victory

Spalding Highlight of the Game: Philadelphia’s Ray Little returned a kick for 55 yards for a touchdown