Broken Twigs: Most Hated Players in the NHL and Your Flyers Mailbag

Broken Twigs: Most Hated Players in the NHL and Your Flyers Mailbag

I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of the Arron Asham signing when it happened. For years I had loathed that Metis meatball and now he was coming to my home town team. But like it has happened with so many before and so many since (read: Daniel Carcillo), I rooted for him when he wore the orange and black. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I just wouldn’t really think about it. And if I did it was to try and trick myself into getting pumped up about him. Like “Arron Asham's gonna give you the Kung Fu, beeeyyyaaaatttccchhhhh!” I’m not sure it ever really worked but it got me through a difficult time, although I'm not sure the bad taste ever left my mouth.

Since he’s left the organization I can categorize my opinion of Asham as “he’s not the worst.” That might not seem like a big difference but it’s quite the leap for me.

There are just some guys that I just never want to see in a Flyers jersey. There are a handful of current NHLers that would ruin the whole team for me. They’d be like meeting someone on the beach who had a dead toe. It’s like yeah, you got 19 good ones but I don’t want to be around you because that thing is like blackish grey and stinks and if it touches me I will die face first in a sand castle so now I'm packing up my things and going home. Kinda like that...

So in the spirit of Bleacher Report here is a slide show (j/k you guys) showcasing a group of tool boxes I hope get groin pulls, and when Homer finally signs them, I will drop a dookie on his doorstep that will be so historic IT will become the primary owner of the Wikipedia page for Dookie, and Greenday’s seminal work of alt-rock genius will become just another entry on a disambiguated list.

Chris Neil – Chris Neil is actually the inspiration for this list. I saw Danny Syvret the other night and thought it was Chris Neil for a split second and walked over and punched a hole in my living room window. Chris Neil is that big of a turkey. He’s not particularly dirty or anything, he doesn’t “play the game the wrong way” like the next entry, he’s just…I don’t care to be reminded he exists much less have to force myself to think “nice hit Chris Neil” if the Flyers ever sign him.

Matt Cooke – This guy is going to make any list about NHL shitbirds. Cooke is a great example of how terrible the people of Pittsburgh are. He’s a head-shoting, achilles stomping, chromosome collecting horrible human. And they root for him. Worse than that they DEFEND HIM. If he became a Flyer I’d quit. That’s it, I'm outta here. I’d rather eat sad desk lunches every single meal for the rest of my life than see that pie-shaped, it-wasn’t-me rest stop glory hole wearing my flying P.

Colton Orr – Oh my Lord something is wrong with this guy. He’s legitimately insane. If his non-stop Here’s Johnny expression wasn’t enough to convince you of that go re-watch what he did to poor Todd Fedoruk. Also, he’s easily the worst hockey player, possibly in NHL history. When people talk about wasting roster spots on a guy who can’t play hockey they’re talking about Colton Orr. Guy skates like he just stopped pushing a chair around at practice.

Patrick Kaleta – Google Satyr and then write me a five page paper on how Patrick Kaleta is not a time traveling mythical musical goat man from the past. The Sabres janitors are required to keep 45 lbs. of soda and beer cans behind the Zamboni at all times so Kaleta can graze between periods.

Steve Ott – Steve Ott is what I imagine would happen if Ron Weasley had sex with a Chihuahua in a pile of vomit while wearing Buffalo’s new jersey. YOU DON’T PUSH OUR COACH AND THEN CALL HIM CLASSLESS. I don’t care how good you are at face-offs.

God, that was gross. And now your XXX Flyers Mailbag!

@smasterson3 If you directed an episode of Flyers Flight Plan what would it be about?
That’s the great thing about a tiny little project like this – the ideas don’t need to be fresh or novel or anything. Given the fact that a lot of people who are a lot funnier than me have already had some pretty great ideas I would just steal them. Or pay tribute to them or whatever. But right off the top of my head I’m going with a Drunk History starring Scott Hartnell. I’d want him to drink 8 neat whiskeys and then recount the Day the Music and Drinking Died, aka the day that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were traded. We could have local celebrities like weather man John Bolaris and non-local celebrities like Blake from Workaholics act out how it went down. The only problem with this is that professional athletes are only allowed to have Puritan School Marm levels of fun when something is being recorded or there are reporters around. This is because the media has ruined everything. Therefore Scott Hartnell would not agree to do this (rightfully so) so it might have to be called Someone Slipped a Mickey In My Drink History. Either way it would be real solid Philadelphia gold that would be woven into the fabric of this great city for the rest of time or at least until the zombies come.

Derek T: You ever notice how all the Pittsburgh teams are black and gold and Philadelphia is orange, black, white, red, blue, green and silver?
Hmm, maybe? Are there other cities that all have the same color scheme? Somehow I feel like the government mandated that Pittsburgh teams be yellow like pee and black like death so that all other cities would be repeatedly warned about the awfulness that is Pittsburgh. “No, no hopeful colors. You can throw the piss color in if you absolutely need one.” It was probably originally yellow and brown, but the brown turned to black amid all the despair floating around the air outside any Pittsburgh bar/school/is there a difference.

@mager_pls when do the Flyers give Hal Gill a max contract?
I must not be the only one wondering what in the world Hal Gill has on our GM that he’s here at training camp. Every time I see him I’m surprised. “What’s he doing here?” It’s awful nice that we’re putting on a Hal Gill Showcase but since when are we in the business of charity? It’s not even like he’s a former Flyer or missing an eye like Bryan Berard. I’d rather them select a random 18 year old out of the crowd every night and let him touch a dream he’ll never even come close to so he can use the story to get laid for the next 10 years. Hal Gill…how did you trick our GM into trotting you around like a show pony for the rest of the NHL? Why do you even want to get embarrassed for another year? Do you have a gambling problem?

@lonis119 Would you trade Jay Rosehill for Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Vladimir Tarasenko?
Can’t do it. Salary cap, bub. Which makes me think – it’s sad that we’ll never get to see super teams again, and equally amazing that the Hawks have managed to win 2 cups in 4 tries. Our kids will never grow up seeing a team that is far and away better than the rest that you can’t help but root for them despite your dad cautioning you not to because they’re a bunch of assholes. Not in hockey anyway. On a semi-related note do you think the Canadian Olympic Team would be a lock for the Cup for the next 5 years? I bet some scrappy team could beat them in a best out of 7 two years out of the five. The cap has made the game a little different in the NHL. People are getting so accustomed to their specialized roles that they become expert 3rd line wings or 6th defensemen. I’d like to see a KHL all-star team play a season in the NHL, and not just to see Lou Lamerillo snipe Ilya Kovalchuk Goldeneye-style from the owner’s box.

Gracie B: Who’s your long-shot to make the team?
I don’t know why exactly but Chris Vande Velde has caught my eye. It might just be his name though. He’s like, not out on the ice but then sometimes he is? I don’t know how to explain it but a perfect analogy is I went to look at the box score from the Rangers game on Tuesday to see how to spell his name and he wasn’t in it. 17 Flyers were, but he wasn’t. That’s weird right? Before I heard he had actually signed a contract with the Flyers I thought he was the product of my crowd-sourced dreams coming true at Flyers camp. I thought he was some HS kid that was making the run of his life. That being said, I don’t think he’ll make the team, but when our first place club gets decimated by injuries in December I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the lineup on some random night. Dude has NHL games under his belt and coaches love when a call-up is responsible defensively. Which he must be as he certainly isn’t responsible offensively, as evidenced by his stat sheet.

Closing thought:
How about the balls on Raffl, eh? Gagne’s body isn’t even cold and this Sound of Music extra is wearing his number.

Today's Lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phillies try to snap skid

Today's Lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phillies try to snap skid

Well, this hasn't gone well. 

Coming into Thursday afternoon's game against the Rockies, the Phillies have lost five straight. They've lost nine of their last 10. They've lost 20 of their last 24. 

At 15-29, they're not just the worst team in the NL East. They're not just the worst team in the National League. 

Through 44 games, the Phillies are the worst team in baseball. 

Just to make it to a .500 record this season, they would need to go 66-52 (.559) the rest of the way. 

Their four-game series against the Rockies will mercifully come to a close on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. In the first three games of the series -- all losses -- the Phils have been outscored 23-5. 

Maikel Franco returns to the four-hole as the Phillies try to snap out of their funk.

The Phillies on Thursday also activated right-handed pitcher Jeanmar Gomez from the disabled list. Gomez takes Adam Morgan's spot on the roster. Morgan was reassigned to Triple A Lehigh Valley after throwing three scoreless innings during the Phillies' 7-2 loss to the Rockies.

Gomez hasn't pitched since May 4 because of an elbow injury. He began the season as the Phillies' closer but was demoted after blowing two saves and allowing seven runs in his first five innings. In 11 1/3 innings this season, Gomez has a 7.94 ERA.

Here's the full lineup: 

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Michael Saunders, RF
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P

With new mindset, Nelson Agholor embraces competition to prove himself to Eagles

With new mindset, Nelson Agholor embraces competition to prove himself to Eagles

Nelson Agholor’s rookie season was a disappointment, but his second year in the NFL was a disaster, the pressure of which was clearly getting to him. Now Agholor finds himself on the roster bubble as his third year with the Eagles commences, and it’s fair to wonder what the wide receiver’s mindset is like in 2017.

“Confident and comfortable,” Agholor said Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex, where phase three of OTAs had just begun.

Earlier in the day, Agholor had been involved at practice — cycling in with the first-team offense and getting plenty of looks, too. Later, he would be the last player to leave the field, continuing to run sprints alone after practice ended. Finally, back in the locker room, Agholor explained the epiphany he arrived at during the offseason, and how he knows he’s ready to put 2016 behind him.

“I just had a realization that the only thing that matters is the current situation,” Agholor said. “I’m here, I have an opportunity to get better and make myself a better football player.”

None of this means everything is about to click for Agholor, and he’s suddenly going to perform up to his status as a first-round pick. The Eagles clearly weren’t counting on that, either, when they signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency, then selected two more receivers in the draft.

If Agholor intends to turn his career around, a fresh outlook isn’t a bad place to start.

Failing to meet expectations and under relentless scrutiny, Agholor’s demeanor changed over the course of last season. Frustrations finally boiled over during a postgame rant after an Eagles loss to the Cowboys. Four weeks later, he was a healthy scratch against the Packers. Though Agholor suited up for the final five games, there was no discernable change from a production standpoint.

“That’s in the past,” Agholor said. “I practiced today. I got after it today. Anything that happened back then, it happened for a reason.”

Agholor — who turned 24 Wednesday — attributed the bulk of his struggles to youth and inexperience while denying mental or confidence issues were to blame for his performance. With only 59 receptions for 648 yards and three touchdowns to show after two years, the Eagles couldn’t wait for him to grow up any longer, which led to Jeffery and Smith being brought aboard.

“I took it for what it was,” Agholor said. “I said, ‘This was what happened, this is the new opportunity, so every day, just focus on getting better at some aspect of it.’

“It’s all about getting better consistently each day, even if it’s just a little. At the end of the day, the whole world will be like, ‘Man, this is the product?’ Some of the best players in this league, they didn’t just become really great the first day there. It took a process and continuous progression every day.”

But how exactly does Agholor go about making that jump? Because work ethic has never been a complaint, nor was talent a problem at USC, where he finished with 179 receptions for 2,571 yards and 20 touchdowns in 40 games.

There’s no telling whether Agholor will ever put it all together in the NFL. He has refined his approach, however.

“I focused on the simple grind, whether it’s conditioning, whether it was living weights,” Agholor said of offseason workouts. “I wasn’t trying to have just a miracle happen. I just started focusing on the simplest things.

“I got on the track and worked on my speed and worked on my conditioning. I was in the weight room, worked on my strength and my durability, making sure my muscles were working the right way. That’s all it was, little things like that.”

Coaches and teammates are seeing a difference in Agholor as well. Most of all, they believe competing against veterans like Jeffery and Smith will bring the best out of a young receiver still trying to find his way.

“Nelson's attitude has been great. He's worked extremely hard this offseason,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “As I've said all along, competition sharpens you, and that's what I've seen from Nelson.”

“I feel like competition is what’s going to help breed production,” Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews said. “If you’ve got more guys coming in and working, you don’t have time to worry about this, this and this. You have to worry about going in and keeping your job, you have to worry about going in and making plays every single day, and that goes for everybody, not just Nelson.”

Agholor does not disagree.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for me to compete vs. some really good players,” Agholor said of Jeffery and Smith. “These guys have proven themselves in the league, so if I show that I’m capable of performing the same way they are, then I’m in the conversation.”

That might seem like wishful thinking, but for this brief period in OTAs, Agholor has the upper hand — he knows the offense. And even if the Eagles wanted to move on from Agholor this year, his contract is such that a release would cost more against the salary cap than if he was to remain on the roster.

Financial ramifications aside, Agholor’s spot on the final 53-man roster legitimately appears to be in jeopardy. His hope in the meantime is to make himself indispensable.

“I feel like I want to be one of the best players on this team, and that takes care of it right there,” Agholor said. “I want to be a guy when you watch him on tape, you’re like, ‘Yeah, I need him.’

“The best players play, and I want to be one of the best players.”

For all of the doubts about his confidence, Agholor has seldom had any trouble expressing a general belief that he belongs in the NFL. Any doubts he did have, he obviously did not entertain for very long, based on his goals in 2017.

“I love this game, and I want to play this game for a long time, so I’m not going to allow anybody besides myself determine how long I do this,” Agholor said. “This is only Year 3, and I want to play 10-plus. The only way I do that is making myself available and making myself a good football player.”

Coming off of a season that nearly caused him to lose his swagger and cool, Agholor is doing and saying all the right things again, even as the Eagles bring in potential replacements. Perhaps the notion that it feels like a step in the right direction speaks to how poorly those first two seasons went.