Are Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins even willing to be traded?

Are Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins even willing to be traded?

Everywhere I go these days, people are asking me, “When are the Phillies going to blow it up? When is the fire sale?” The truth is, I don’t know. I don’t know because I’m not sure what the Philadelphia Phillies truly have to offer another team.

Ryan Howard is the immovable object. Cliff Lee, to my knowledge, hasn’t thrown a baseball in close to a month. Mike Adams just hit the disabled list. The Phillies would likely have to eat most of Jonathan Papelbon’s salary to be rid of that distraction. The wheels have come off for A.J. Burnett in recent weeks. And don’t get too excited, because the Phils are not replenishing the farm system by moving the likes of Carlos Ruiz or Marlon Byrd.

Of course, we all know who people really mean when they start hinting about the Phillies blowing it up—Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, two of the only real commodities this team has at the moment. The question is, though, can the Phillies trade either one of them?

Both Utley and Rollins have full no-trade clauses due to their 10-and-5 rights—10 years in the league, five with the same team. And while they can waive their no-trade clauses and agree to a deal, who’s to say they will?

Most folks seem to assume anybody would want out in Utley’s or Rollins’ situations because the Phillies are the Titanic right now. These are 35-year-old players we’re talking about, guys with few legitimate runs at a World Series left in the tank. How could they pass up a golden opportunity to win one somewhere else?

I’m not so sure it’s that simple.

Utley, in particular, doesn’t strike me as somebody who wants to move on. He signed an incredibly team-friendly contract just last summer to remain in Philadelphia, then afterwards went so far as to say he was happy to finish his career here no matter what.

"This is something that, no matter what happens, I'm not going to regret. I've talked to some guys that have played here and moved onto other organizations. The grass isn't always greener on the other side. I'm excited. I'm happy to be still a Phillie, and hopefully a Phillie for another five years."

Meanwhile, when Rollins was being pressed by reporters about a potential trade last summer, he admitted he had no intention of leaving until after he set some more franchise records. Now that he’s a mere five base knocks away from becoming the Phillies’ all-time hits leader, the thinking is he might be more susceptible to a deal.

Don’t get your hopes up. Many viewed Rollins’ comments as selfish at the time, but it seems that was just his way of saying he doesn’t want to go anywhere. He admitted as much in February.

“I’m not planning on waiving my no-trade clause,” he said during a sit-down with Marshall Harris on Wednesday. “My plan is to bring a championship back here, to be honest.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what would compel either of them to stay. Anybody can see the Phillies are bad and will likely continue to be bad for awhile.

Perhaps such a decision would be rooted in part in something other than wins and losses. Utley and Rollins have built homes and lives in the area, which at this stage of their careers might matter more to them than winning. They have a world championship, so they may not be that interested in leaving their comfort zone to chase another.

Don’t assume the organization is necessarily going to be complicit in your fire sale, either. While it’s plain to see this franchise is in desperate need of a rebuilding process, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has stated time and time again there is no blowing up the Phillies. There is only “retooling.”

Misguided or not, the organization seems committed to putting a winning product on the field every year. You can certainly envision how Utley and Rollins might still be useful if the roster could be retooled quickly. It's the same reasons other teams might find them valuable at the trade deadline.

So as long as the Amaro is telling players the Phillies are committed to winning, and those players are happy and comfortable where they’re at, are they even interested in waiving no-trade clauses? Only Utley and Rollins know the answer to that question for sure, but neither has given any indication they are willing to move.

Flyers answer Ron Hextall's plea with comeback OT win over Islanders

Flyers answer Ron Hextall's plea with comeback OT win over Islanders

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Shayne Gostisbehere’s fist pump was so vicious and mighty, the celebration was probably felt back in Philadelphia.

This was an exultation the entire Flyers felt, too.

When it started to look like the bye week wasn’t the break they needed, the Flyers reached down deep and got one Sunday night at the Barclays Center in the form of a 3-2 overtime victory over the Islanders (see Instant Replay).

“It allows you to take a breath,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s one thing for sure.”

A sigh of relief for a team beaten and bruised — losers of three straight by a combined score of 15-4, not to mention 3-9-3 in its past 15 games. The Flyers had lost the day prior on home ice to the Devils, 4-1, with a performance not exactly inspiring confidence following five days off.

On Sunday, they trailed 2-0 in the second period.

“We've got to get better at dealing with adversity when something goes wrong,” general manager Ron Hextall said bluntly before the game. “We need to get back on the horse and get back going. Big deal, a team scored a goal. We need to react better to it.”

Finally, the Flyers reacted the way their GM had been hoping.

They flipped the deficit into a victory when Gostisbehere skated behind the net and put the puck on Claude Giroux’s stick for the game-winner with 1:40 left in the extra session. Gostisbehere whipped his arm through the air and embraced Giroux, along with Jakub Voracek, who started the play by stripping Islanders captain John Tavares.

“On a lot of different levels, it’s an important win,” Hakstol said. “It’s huge. And more importantly for us, a great effort. Thought we deserved the two points. Sometimes maybe that’s what it takes to get over the hump — a tremendous effort for 60-plus minutes. I thought we got that out of everyone tonight.”

For Giroux, it was his first goal since Dec. 21.

For Steve Mason, his first win since Dec. 21.

And for the Flyers, their first road victory since Dec. 14, as they went 0-6-3 in the previous nine games away from home.

Yeah, “it was needed,” as Wayne Simmonds said of the win.

“We’ve been fighting it lately and I thought that was a good game from start to finish,” he said. “I thought everyone played well. I think we made bounces go our way tonight instead of hoping and waiting.”

Simmonds scored what might have been the biggest goal of the game. The Flyers, down 1-0 in the second period, came up empty for 33 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play and the proceeding 5-on-4 advantage. The Islanders then padded the lead to 2-0 moments later, putting the Flyers’ backs against the wall.

But Simmonds kept his team from uncoiling with a goal at 14:10 of the period, giving the Flyers life at second intermission. If not for that score, who knows how the Flyers come out in the third period, trailing by multiple goals yet again.

"I think we were plying well,” Giroux said. “We had a lot of chances and [the puck] wasn't going in. Everybody on the bench was frustrated. When Wayne got that first goal, I think [there was] a little relief on the bench. I haven't seen a team celebrate so much just for a first goal. It was kind of a relief and we had a little boost out of that.”

Ivan Provorov scored the equalizer 1:47 into the final period when he maintained possession from the blue line to the circle, adeptly skating around two Islanders to put the puck on net. Provorov’s pass to Travis Konecny hit off the skate of New York’s Adam Pelech and into the net.

“I came off the bench and I saw [Brayden Schenn] was going into the zone, so I took a few hard strides, got the puck from him and I saw it was kind of an odd-man situation,” Provorov said. “I held on to the puck a little bit, saw T.K. going backdoor, passed it there and it went off their D skate.”

Just as important as the timely goals was the Flyers’ discipline. Against the Devils, the Flyers compiled 19 penalty minutes, forcing them on seven penalty kills. This time, the Flyers sharpened up, not allowing the Islanders a power play until midway through the third period. In total, they had just four penalty minutes and killed off both power plays faced.

That gave them a chance.

“We just kept saying it the whole time, ‘Keep going, keep going, guys,’” Simmonds said. “We just need one [goal] and from one comes two, and Mase held the fort.”

Mason made 17 of his 36 saves in the third period and overtime combined.

Now, the Flyers at least go into another important back-to-back — starting Wednesday at the Rangers before welcoming the Maple Leafs Thursday — with some confidence instead of a lost weekend.

“I thought the focus was purely on going out and playing well,” Hakstol said. “And you know, that’s harder to do than you might know — when you start to feel some of the pressure without a win in a little bit. I really liked that side of it. Even in that situation, all the guys played well. Hopefully that puts our entire team in the right direction.’’

Best of NHL: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

Best of NHL: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored two goals, Sidney Crosby added his league-leading 28th and the Pittsburgh Penguins won their fourth straight game, 5-1 over the Boston Bruins 5-1 on Sunday.

Pittsburgh led 2-1 through two periods before breaking out in the third with three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 57 seconds.

Sheary scored his 17th and has nine goals in nine games. Bryan Rust added his 12th and Patric Hornqvist his 11th for the Penguins, who won a season-high seventh straight at home. Pittsburgh the NHL's best home team, is 13-0-1 in its last 14 home games.

Evgeni Malkin had two assists for a season-best seven-game point streak. Crosby added two assists for a three-point game. Matt Murray made 44 saves to win his fourth straight game.

David Krejci scored his 11th for the Bruins, who have lost four straight and five of their last six (see full recap).

Rangers shut out Red Wings in 1-0 OT win
DETROIT -- J.T. Miller scored at 1:56 of overtime to lift the New York Rangers to a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season and 61st of his career. The Rangers managed only 19 shots in a game that featured few memorable chances by either team.

The winner came when Mats Zuccarello and Miller swooped in alone on Detroit goalie Jared Coreau. Zuccarello made a simple pass to Miller, who lifted the puck over Coreau for his 16th goal of the season.

Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall played for the first time since Jan. 4, returning from a lower-body injury. The Red Wings put forward Drew Miller on waivers (see full recap).

Atikinson lifts Jackets over Senators in wild OT win
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Cam Atkinson's second goal of the game at 1:09 of overtime lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets a 7-6 win over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night.

Atkinson had a breakaway after a shot by Senators captain Erik Karlsson missed the Columbus net and went around the boards out to Atkinson, who was at center-ice.

The Blue Jackets trailed 5-3 after two periods before Lukas Sedlak and Matt Calvert scored 31 seconds apart to tie it less than 2 1/2 minutes into the third. Atklnson then gave Columbus a 6-5 lead with 9:10 remaining, before Kyle Turries tied it for Ottawa on the power play less than 2 minutes later.

Nick Foligno, Scott Harrington and Zach Werenski also scored for the Blue Jackets, and Joonas Korpisalo finished with 28 saves.

Zach Smith and Mike Hoffman each had two goals and Mark Stone also scored for the Senators. Mike Condon had 22 saves (see full recap).