Missanelli: 2020 Is Going to Be Like 1980 for Philly Sports

Ron Jaworski (Manny Rubio, USA Today Sports), Tug McGraw ("Tug McGraw Phillies" by Philadelphia Phillies / MLB - ebay.com, front of photo, back of photo. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.); Julius Erving ("JuliusErvingSlamDunk1981" by Jim Accordino. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.); Bobby Clarke ("Bobby Clarke 1983" by Bruce Bisping - ebay.com, front of photo, back of photo. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.)

Ron Jaworski (Manny Rubio, USA Today Sports), Tug McGraw (Philadelphia Phillies / MLB); Julius Erving (Jim AccordinoCC BY 2.0 via commons.); Bobby Clarke (Bruce Bisping, public domain via commons.)

If you can wait four more years until we get to 2020, sports in Philadelphia is going to be pretty good.

That’s what my crystal ball says. My theory is this: All four teams in Philadelphia right now are at the bottom rung of a ladder, but all four are on a plan to build up from scratch until they get to a championship level. By my estimation, that’s going to take four years for the Eagles, Flyers, Sixers and Phillies. But it’s going to be worth the wait. We’re going to wake up one day, and the year 2020 is going to be just like 1980.

Remember then?

The Phillies won the World Series over the Royals; the 76ers faced the Lakers in the NBA finals (where they came up painfully short, but set the stage for their eventual triumph in ’83); the Eagles were in the Super Bowl (though they painfully lost to the Raiders); and the Flyers were in the Stanley Cup finals (where they just as painfully lost to the Islanders). All four teams played for a championship that year. That was Philadelphia sports’ highest peak.

Let’s look at the state of Philly sports right now: Read more »

Flyers Hosting “You Can Play” Night for LGBT Rights in Sports

The You Can Play project is a group fighting to change the culture around LGBT athletes, coaches and fans in sports. It works to promote LGBT athlete safety, seeking “to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.”

As part of a partnership with the NHL — one of the group’s founders is former Flyers scout Patrick Burke, son of Calgary Flames exec Brian Burke — the Flyers will be holding a You Can Play Night on Monday, January 25th, when the Flyers play the Boston Bruins. Read more »

Flyers Trade Vincent Lecavalier, Luke Schenn in Salary Dump

Oct 29, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn (22) celebrates his goal with center Brayden Schenn (10) and center Vincent Lecavalier (40) against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Photo | Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn (22) celebrates his goal with center Brayden Schenn (10) and center Vincent Lecavalier (40) against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Photo | Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers traded away a pair of veterans with big contracts for a 23-year-old center and a third-round draft pick today, according to the team. In return for the young guy and the pick, the Flyers shipped the Kings forward Vincent Lecavalier and defenseman Luke Schenn.

The move is a salary dump, though the Flyers are reportedly retaining half of each player’s salary. Lecavalier signed a five-year, $22.5 million deal with the Flyers in 2013, but as his production has dropped the contract has become prohibitively expensive. NBC today called it an “albatross” and the top Google autocomplete search when you search “Vincent Lecavalier” is “contract.” Read more »

Philly Fans Finally See a Home Win as Rookie Scores in OT for Flyers

gostisbehere

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, we mentioned that a Philadelphia sports team hadn’t won a home game all month. There were only two more chances for a home victory in November, and last night it looked like the Flyers would win this one easily. They were up 2-0 seven minutes into the third period. A home win was just more than 10 minutes away.

Naturally, the Flyers gave up two goals in the third and the game went to overtime. The chance for a home win was in doubt, especially because the Flyers came into the game just 2-4 after being tied at the end of regulation. But Philly caught a break when the Carolina Hurricanes’ Victor Rask was called for holding just 11 seconds into the period. The Flyers would get a 4-on-3 advantage for two minutes. (NHL overtimes are now 3-on-3, with teams going to 4-on-3 when a penalty is called.

Then Shayne Gostisbehere, the Flyers rookie defenseman, flicked one into the net just 13 seconds later to give the Flyers the 3-2 overtime win. Finally, a win in Philadelphia! It was the most recent victory for a Philly team since the Flyers beat the Rangers in OT at the Wells Fargo Center on October 24th. (The last regulation home win for a Philly team was on October 19th, when the Eagles beat the Giants on Monday Night Football.) Read more »

Flyers’ Top Prospect Scores First Goal (But Flyers Lose)

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (53) celebrates his goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Photo | Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (53) celebrates his goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Photo | Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers had an interesting Tuedsay. Backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth was late getting to the ice, and then — after skating for a few minutes — was declared out for that night’s game with an “upper body injury.”

As a result, an Aramark employee had to fill-in at morning skate. To be fair, Justin Musciano — division manager of concessions at the Wells Fargo Center – wasn’t just a random schlub pulled onto the ice. He played in Flyers CEO Peter Luukko’s morning games as a goaltender, and played in college.

“If you haven’t played with professionals and you just see it on TV, you get a totally different respect for what they do and [how they play] the game,” Musciano told the Delaware County Times in 2012 after he filled in then. “How hard they actually shoot the puck? It’s just amazing.”

Lehigh Valley Phantoms goaltender Anthony Stolarz was called up in time to back up Steve Mason during Tuesday night’s game. Another interesting thing happened there, but it had nothing to do with goaltending: Phenom prospect Shayne Gostisbehere scored his first NHL goal. Read more »

Sixers CEO Wanted “Wells Fargo Center” in Invisible Ink on Home Court

 

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Philadelphia 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil added some fuel to the team’s very-public feud with Wells Fargo — the bank that owns the naming rights to their home arena.

For months now, Sixers executives have refused to say the words “Wells Fargo Center” in press conferences, publish it on the team’s website or print it in any official documentation. Instead they refer to it as “The Center.” And just recently, the team made the words “Wells Fargo Center” very difficult to read on its home court. What used to appear in dark lettering on the floor, is now painted white and virtually blends in.

I interviewed O’Neil on Wednesday and asked why. Read more »

WATCH: Flyers Fans Chant “She Said No” at Opponent Accused of Rape

Last night, the Flyers played the Chicago Blackhawks in their fourth game of the season. The Flyers actually beat the defending Stanley Cup champions, 3-0. It was backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth’s second straight shutout. The Flyers are now 2-1-1.

One of the Blackhawks’ star players is Patrick Kane, who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal against the Flyers in the 2010 Finals. In August, Kane was accused of rape. He has not been charged, and the case has played out in the media in incredibly odd ways. It remains an ongoing investigation.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has the ability to suspend Kane, but is waiting to see how it plays out. So Kane is playing. Some NHL fans have supported Kane despite the allegations. But last night, Flyers fans let Kane have it, chanting “She said no” at Kane throughout the game. Read more »

We Aren’t the Champions

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Good day, co-residents of one of the worst sports cities in America, where we wake up every day perusing websites, television, radio and newspapers reading about how awful things are!

“Hope.” It is one of the most relevant words in the English language and here, in Philadelphia, we search every day for it, much like the farmer who tries to find his wife’s needle in the horse manure. Today’s column is about that hope, about analyzing which of the four major sports team brings us the most hope for a future championship – or at least SOME kind of success.

I will break this down analytically based on the following factors: strength of ownership, strength of management, strength of coaching, and finally, strength of talent. And I will rank the teams in order as they accumulate points in my head. Read more »

WATCH: Flyers Make NHL History — In Loss

The Flyers made hockey history last night. Unfortunately, they were on the wrong end of it.

After ending regulation tied at 2, the Flyers and Lightning went to overtime. This year, the NHL is using new rules in an attempt to have games end in OT rather than go to a shootout: 3-on-3! Last night’s game, the season opener for both teams, was the first 3-on-3 OT in NHL history.

And, yeah, the Flyers lost in OT. Tampa Bay’s Jason Garrison scored on a breakaway 2:17 into overtime. It was his second goal of the game. Read more »

So, Will The Flyers Be Any Good This Season?

flyers-logo

The Flyers used to be a sure bet for the playoffs every year. Ed Snider would assemble a team of French Canadians, Regular Canadians, Americans and maybe a Scandinavian or two; the Flyers would finish in the top half of the conference and they’d make the playoffs. This happened every year except one from 1994-95 season to the 2011-12 season (when hockey wasn’t locked out). It didn’t really matter that the Flyers never won the Stanley Cup; the team would draw nearly 20,000 a game every year to South Philadelphia, and things were good. What other Philadelphia sports team could boast such (regular season) success?

In two out of the last three years, however, the Flyers have not made the postseason. The one year they did (2013–14) they lost in the first round to the Rangers. Instead of coming into this season as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders — hockey playoffs are weird and long, any team that qualifies can make a run — they are coming in defending themselves. “Philadelphia Flyers out to prove critics wrong,” is the headline on a story by longtime Courier Times Flyers beat writer Wayne Fish. “Giroux out to prove Flyers better than expected,” reads today’s Daily News back cover. Even Comcast SportsNet, which has the same parent company as the team, headlines its piece: “Claude Giroux: Flyers using outside doubt as motivation.”

It’s true: Not one ESPN expert has the Flyers winning the Metropolitan Division. No writers at Sports Illustrated picked the Flyers to even make the playoffs. “With [backup goaltender Michal] Neuvirth as insurance,” SI writes in another article, “do the Flyers defensively challenged Flyers pick up enough points to challenge for a playoff berth?” The Flyers are such an afterthought no one has even fixed that typo yet.

Which leads us to this: Uh-oh. Are the Flyers going to be bad this season? Will this year of Philadelphia sports horror never end? Read more »

« Older Posts