2 the Rafters? Sources Say Flyers Will Retire Mark Howe's Number

2 the Rafters? Sources Say Flyers Will Retire Mark Howe's Number

CSN's Tim Panaccio and Sarah Baicker are hearing that the Flyers will retire Mark Howe's number before a Flyers-Red Wings game on Tuesday, March 6th. Howe, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last week (see his honoring of father Gordie here), finished his career with the Red Wings and currently works as their Director of Pro Scouting.

The Hall of Fame induction news brought with it a resurgence in the calls to see Howe's 2 raised to the rafters in Philadelphia, and the Flyers appear ready to oblige.

Howe will join an exclusive club, with only four other numbers having been retired by the Flyers—Bernie Parent (1), Barry Ashbee (4), Bill Barber (7), and Bobby Clarke (16).

It's a little odd when teams allow a number to be worn for years before retiring it, while others put a grace period in place, making a number unavailable for some time before finally allowing it back into use or finally retiring it for good. For many of us, '2' will always be Howe's number in Philadelphia, but we have seen quite a few nameplates above that digit since Howe left, including Lukas Krajicek as recently as the 2009-2010 season. Some of us wondered whether this would prevent Howe from joining the pantheon.

Fans have been begging for this for years, and we couldn't be happier to see one of our first favorite Flyers join the guys we've only read about and seen grainy footage of. Howe is the best defenseman to ever play for the Flyers, spending 10 great seasons in Orange & Black. When we ranked our field of 64 for the top Philly athletes of the past 30 years, Howe was our 1-seed for the Flyers.

Here's what Rev had to say then:

Smooth. Unflappable. Steady. Smart. When I think of Mark Howe these are adjectives that come to mind. Best defenseman in Flyers history also comes to mind. Unlike other defensemen who excelled offensively, Howe was incredibly responsible in his own end. He emerged from the shadow of his father Gordie to carve out a remarkable career. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1982 thanks to a trade which sent Ken Linseman, Greg Adams, and a first and third round pick in the ’83 draft to Hartford. He paid immediate dividends, putting up 67 points (20 goals, 47 assists) his first season in the orange and black. He was a three-time All Star and three-time Norris Trophy (best defenseman) finalist. His 1985-86 season was one of the greatest single seasons ever put together by a defenseman, as he played in 77 games, scoring 24 goals and notching 58 assists for 82 total points. He was the NHL plus/minus leader that year, posting a ridiculous +85. His Herculean efforts were recognized as he was a Hart Trophy (NHL MVP) finalist.  He helped lead the Flyers to two Stanley Cup Finals (1985 and 1987), and won the Barry Ashbee award as the Flyers best defenseman three times. He ended his Flyers career as the all-time leader in points by a defenseman with 480 (138g, 342a) in 594 games. He was, without question, the greatest blueliner in Flyers history.

While it's not official yet, it might be a good idea to look into those March 6th tickets if you want to see the rare sight of a number being raised to the rafters in Philadelphia.

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

PITTSBURGH – The ice on Friday afternoon at Heinz Field was watery and slushy.
 
That’s because the city set a historic record at 78 degrees for Feb. 24.
 
So what were the ice conditions?
 
“They were pretty good,” said Sidney Crosby. “It was pretty bright there. Started off the practice and the sun was beating down pretty good.
 
“I’ve played in a few of these and the ice was pretty good considering how warm it was. It’s supposed to cool down and I’m sure it will get better.”
 
The Penguins will host the Flyers on Saturday night in a Stadium Series outdoor game.
 
Pittsburgh took the ice Friday at 4 p.m. The Flyers got on the ice a little more than an hour later and things started to cool down.
 
“We had a pretty good practice given the circumstances,” Jakub Voracek said. “This is a little better setup than Philly. The fans are closer.”
 
It was much hotter when Pittsburgh took the ice, but the temperature was still warm after the sun went down.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere said, “It was hot for sure. … It was fun, but it was pretty hot.”
 
Defenseman Radko Gudas said the ice surface was, “playable, but a little rough.”
 
On Saturday, rain is expected, with temperatures falling to 42 degrees by 5 p.m.
 
During the game, which begins at 8 p.m., the temperature is projected to continue to drop and there will be wind gusts up to 31 mph. By the end of the night, the forecast says temps will be in the 20s. 

Players are more concerned about the wind than the ice at this point. Crosby, who has played in three previous NHL outdoor games, said wind is a huge factor. It happened to the Penguins at the 2014 Stadium Series game in Chicago.
 
“It can definitely be a factor,” Crosby said. “I want to say in Chicago that was something we kind of had to look at. We felt it a little more there compared to the other two [outdoor games]. If it going to get windy like that, it’s something to be aware of.”
 
It remains to be seen how the NHL will handle which team goes into the wind first.
 
“Yeah, the wind,” Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet of what element will be a big factor. “I hope you don’t have to backcheck. Who gets the advantage? They change in the third period. But who picks what end? There is a wind factor.”
 
Tocchet rated the ice Friday as “a little slushy.”
 
“It was good early and then it got tough because it was hot outside,” Tocchet said. “But we got a half-decent practice out of it.
 
“The one thing, the puck didn’t bounce, which was good. Players can adapt a lot better when the puck doesn’t bounce. When things bounce, it’s a tough night.”

Brett Brown understands Nerlens Noel trade, caught off guard by Ben Simmons news

Brett Brown understands Nerlens Noel trade, caught off guard by Ben Simmons news

Nerlens Noel was essentially the beginning of The Process.

Acquired in a draft day trade with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013, Noel was the last player remaining of those who were on the team when Brett Brown took over as head coach of the Sixers. Drafted No. 6 overall out of Kentucky, Noel missed the entire 2013-14 season recovering from a torn ACL.

That gave Brown the opportunity to work closely with Noel, most notably on his shot.

"Personally, I spent a lot of time with him," Brown said pregame Friday. "To have a whole year where you could help grow his shot. And talk about a total rebuild."

Noel on Thursday was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for a top-18 protected first-round pick, Justin Anderson and Andrew Bogut. The return doesn't seem great, but there are larger factors at play.

Noel is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer. With the emergence of Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor on the roster, the center position was (and still is, frankly) crowded. The chances of the Sixers' retaining Noel weren't great. Especially if a team had signed him to an exorbitant offer sheet.

Brown was naturally close to Noel, but understands the business side of the decision.

"I'm happy for him in my heart of hearts," Brown said. "[The Mavericks] have brought him in to grow him to try to be a starting center. That does equal a commensurate paycheck. He will be rewarded if that's the way it plays out.

"That wasn't gonna happen here. It wasn't gonna happen here. And so when you really study salary caps, really study design of teams and really study how to grow a program so you're not caught positionally, it was gonna be hard to allocate that amount of money to a five spot."

Brown got some more tough news when he learned No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons won't play this season. A scan taken Thursday revealed that Simmons' Jones fracture, suffered in early October on the last day of training camp, has not fully healed (see story).

Brown, being the consummate optimist, brought up his experience with Noel in is his rookie season of how a player can still develop despite not getting on the court.

"I'm disappointed for lots of reasons that he isn't going to be able to play," Brown said. "I played text tag with him as he was going to the scan. I felt like when your wife is having a baby, pacing around, wondering, 'What's gonna happen? What's the result of the scan? What's it gonna be? What's it gonna be?' I don't mean to get too dramatic, but there's a level of anxiety that you wonder, 'What is the result gonna say?' And when it came back with the result, it caught me off guard. It really wasn't something personally I was expecting."

Sixers president of basketball operation Bryan Colangelo addressed the media Friday to disclose the news on Simmons. He also explained his thinking behind the Noel trade, which mostly hinged on Noel's impending restricted free-agent status (see story).

Brown was sad to see one of his original developmental projects go, but understood the business side of the decision.                     

"I thought he did a really good job," Brown said of Colangelo's press conference. "That is the truth. So it's connected with emotion and reality that we say goodbye to Nerlens."