Flyer Fights: Sestito's Gonna Get a Shanny; Avery's Threats, Simmonds Uses Slur

Flyer Fights: Sestito's Gonna Get a Shanny; Avery's Threats, Simmonds Uses Slur

The preseason's not even over yet, and the Flyers are in all likelihood about to have their second player suspended. Jody Shelley was the first to receive a detailed video explanation by new disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, and I'll be shocked if Tom Sestito doesn't join him tomorrow. In the first period of what would become a rough preseason tilt between the Flyers and the New York Rangers, Sestito took a few full strides before smearing Andre Deveaux from behind, starting a near line-brawl.

Unfortunately, amidst an increasingly rough game, Sean Avery says Wayne Simmonds used a homophobic slur when the two were battling. Katie Strang relayed that news from Avery, and it appears to be the case in watching this video.

If that is indeed what Simmonds said, it's a terrible way to ruin any positivity he'd gain by mixing it up with Avery so early in his Flyers career. More importantly, it's a terrible follow-up to the hateful act Simmonds himself was a victim of just last week. Simmonds was responding to what we hear in the video below: Avery clearly saying he'll "kill Giroux" in retaliation for what other Flyers—namely Sestito—are doing. What we have here, from on the tight camera footage and on-ice mics, is a look at the hockey world we know exists but rarely see up close. When it goes to the living rooms though—and it increasingly will—the league and players will be forced to answer for it.

Both Simmonds' comment and Avery's were in a heated moment, and god only knows what these guys say to each other on the ice even in passing much less when they're ready to go at it. But increased media visibility is going to show more of this to the fans who are tuning in to watch hockey, and there's no question the league will feel compelled to do something about it. We know what Simmonds allegedly said is not uncommon on the playing surface, but it's long since time to put an end to that part of sports culture.

Say what you will about Avery on the ice, but he is one of the foremost advocates of gay rights
in all of sports. To my knowledge, it's his lone redeeming quality, as
evidenced by what you heard above, which is what he's spending most of
his on-ice time doing. After the game, Avery spoke out against what happened to Simmonds in London, Ontario, as well as what Simmonds said tonight.

"It is really disappointing," Avery said, in response to a line of questions focusing entirely on the incidents involving Simmonds. "First of all, who would do that? And why would you do it? It just such an unnecessary thing. It’s something that’s not even an issue with us or our sport. So to be here now and having to answer your questions about what he did is disappointing for me.”

Again, this is coming from the guy threatening metaphorical death but at least bodily harm to the Flyers' star, but on its own, the statement is hard to disagree with.

To his credit, Simmonds didn't want to talk about the on-ice exchange after the game and wouldn't confirm what he said, nor what Avery had said to him prior to it, but did say Avery sucker punched him and said something. “Honestly, we were going back and forth for a while. I don’t recall everything that I said to him. He said some things that I didn’t like and I said some things that he didn’t like. I don’t recall every single word I said." 

[Update: On Tuesday, Simmonds denied using the slur.]

While on the one hand you want to see the players handle their own business, and not dictate the media a transcript of the event, it's almost a moot point what they say in the locker room afterward. With today's access to the sights and sounds of the game, everyone already had the raw footage or soon would. The immediacy of videos being posted to Twitter and YouTube takes the steam out of the "it's just the way it is in hockey," and the logic supporting that argument was already on shaky ground. 

As for Simmonds... I'm glad that just barely into his career with the Flyers, he was so vehemently ready to go to war for a threatened teammate. I don't mind some trash talk either. But try to say something that gets under Avery's skin while not being hateful toward a community of people. It's not always easy to come up with something vicious yet PC, but you know you messed up when you've given Sean Avery the high ground on a night when he was being, well, Sean Avery.

First video via HockeyFights.com, second via SNY Rangers Blog.

Flyers' power play rediscovers swagger in win over Canucks

Flyers' power play rediscovers swagger in win over Canucks

BOX SCORE

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Flyers got some swagger back Sunday night.

But especially so on the power play, which entered Sunday's clash just 2 for 19 over the last six games.

Two markers on the man advantage helped the Flyers edge the Canucks, 3-2, at Rogers Arena in Vanvoucer (see Instant Replay).

“It all comes back to finding a way to produce – and they did that tonight,” said Flyers coach Dave Hakstol, who had called for his power-play participants to rediscover that swagger.

Hakstol’s club won for the first time in its last nine games in Western Canada. More importantly, the Flyers (28-24-7) moved within a point of the eighth and final playoff spot, currently shared by Florida and Boston, in the Eastern Conference.

Thanks to the power-play success, the Flyers built a 3-0 lead in the game’s first 23 minutes and then hung on, atoning for a sub-par effort in a one-sided loss to the Oilers in Edmonton on Thursday night.

The Flyers converted two of three power plays while blanking the Canucks on all four of their man advantages. The loss prevented the Canucks (26-28-6) from getting closer to a Western Conference playoff berth.

“I thought we were playing some pretty good hockey of late, but the pucks weren't going in,” said Flyers center Brayden Schenn, who scored the winning goal on the power play at 2:38 of the second period. “Tonight, we tightened up defensively again from Edmonton's game and were able to score a few more goals. It's a huge two points going home."

Wayne Simmonds, also on the power play, and Jakub Voracek scored the Flyers’ other goals.

“We needed a win,” Simmonds said. “Especially after the game in Edmonton, this is good for the morale."

Shayne Gostisbehere assisted on all three goals, recording the first three-point night of his career.

Schenn’s winning goal came only a minute and 27 seconds after Voracek gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead at 1:11 of the second by sending Sean Couturier’s huge rebound into a gaping net behind Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller. Voracek’s goal was his first in 10 games. He had not scored since Jan. 25 against the New York Rangers.

How did long sought-after goal make him feel?

"Like I scored a goal,” deadpanned Voracek. “We won the game. That’s the way I looked at it. It doesn't matter who scored the goals. Special teams were huge tonight. I liked our power play. We were going all 60 minutes. This one kept us in the race."

The Flyers were a well-rested team thanks to a two-day break between games and a three-day break before the start of the road trip. The Canucks, on the other hand, were playing their second of back-to-back home games with only a day’s rest following a grueling six-game United States road trip. But there was still considerable suspense over the final 30 minutes.

Markus Granlund and Jannik Hansen tallied for the Canucks, who are known as comeback artists, at 3:43 and 12:42 of the second, respectively, before the Flyers shut Vancouver down the rest of the way. Voracek indicated the Flyers were not nervous in the final frame.

"I don't think we changed anything to be honest,” he said. We were pretty tight in the neutral zone. We didn't give them much. When we had a couple of breakdowns, [Michal Neuvirth] was on his act.”

Neuvirth stopped 18 of 20 shots as the Flyers outshot the Canucks, 28-20. He enjoyed a much better start Sunday, holding the Canucks scoreless in the opening period after allowing four goals on his first 12 shots on Thursday in Edmonton. One of his better saves came with just over a minute into the game as he got his toe on Markus Granlund’s dangerous chance from in close.

"I felt good,” said Neuvirth. “I have been practicing well and playing with confidence. The last game, it didn't work out. I put that one behind me and restarted my mind and got back to work tonight.”

“I thought he was excellent,” said Hakstol. “He was calm and settled in there. You can go back through that 60 minutes and you can pick out three or four pretty darned good saves.”

Neuvirth excelled while making his fourth consecutive start and sixth in the past seven games overall.

“It feels good,” he said of the heavy workload. “It feels better when we win.”

But he was not about to get too excited. The Flyers have a tough clash at home Wednesday against NHL-best Washington and a road game Saturday at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field against the rival Penguins as part of the NHL’s Stadium Series.

“We have a tough schedule coming and we have to be ready,” Neuvirth said.

Sixers Twitter rejoices in the Kings' pick swap after DeMarcus Cousins deal

Sixers Twitter rejoices in the Kings' pick swap after DeMarcus Cousins deal

All hail the pick swap.

When word got out that the Sacramento Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans, Sixers fans on Twitter rejoiced.

On July 10, 2015, the Sixers traded away the rights to Artūras Gudaitis and Luka Mitrović, and, in return, received an unprotected 2019 first round pick, Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson and the right to swap first-round selections in the 2016 and 2017 drafts.

The Cousins move appears to significantly weaken the Kings, who are 24-33 and just 2.5 games better than the Sixers, so the pick swap looks healthier than ever.

But, for now, enjoy some samplings of Sixers Twitter from after the trade.

Here are some of the best tweets.