The Flyers Cross Their Fingers on Simon Gagne

The Flyers Cross Their Fingers on Simon Gagne

Paul Holmgren would probably love to have Simon Gagne back in Orange & Black this season. It’s just that the Flyers’ general manager’s hands are tied right now.

As Sam Carchidi pointed out in Tuesday’s edition of the Inquirer, Philadelphia is roughly $1 million over the NHL salary cap at the moment. They’ll drop below the threshold once the regular season gets underway in October and Chris Pronger can be moved to long-term injured reserve, but for now the situation prevents the Flyers from adding any big names to the roster.

The best the club can do is invite a player to training camp (opening Sept. 12) on a tryout basis. Homer tells Carchidi the team is considering extending such an offer to Gagne, but the Flyers' GM doesn’t sound too sure about the winger’s plans.

“But I’m sure he’s getting calls from other teams, too,” Holmgren said on Tuesday. “I have no gut feeling” as to what Gagne will do.

It was mildly surprising to see Gagne still had something left in the tank last season after the Flyers rescued him from a bad fit with the Kings. There just wasn’t enough ice time to go around in Los Angeles, and the two-time NHL All Star is no fourth-line grinder.

Actually, Gagne proved he still has some scoring touch, finding the back of the net five times while posting 11 points in 27 games in 2013 – nothing that will blow anybody’s hair back, but reasonable production. The 13-year veteran even played on a line with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek for a stretch and did not look out of place.

Personally, I thought he was a great fit for this team. Even at 33 years old, Gagne was still versatile enough skate on any of the top three lines, not to mention your power play or penalty kill. Oh, and he's a great veteran presence to have in the locker room, too.

It remains to be seen what Gagne will do, but it sounds like the Flyers would have him back. Given that he is still a free agent one week before camps open, it certainly looks like there is a chance that can happen. If Gagne does make it to camp for a “tryout,” I would anticipate him making the club.

>> Gagne may be at Flyers’ camp [Inq]

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

What is there to say about the Philadelphia Phillies?

In doing my usual postgame perusal of the Internet after their 7-2 loss on Wednesday night, I visited Phillies.com to see what kind of "highlights" they could have possibly posted from another crushing defeat at the hands of the Colorado Rockies.

Thankfully, the first thing that caught my eye was a video titled, "Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby."

It was not Larry Andersen in the Phanatic's arms. Nor me.

And that's the Phillies season in a nutshell.

"You gotta question the parenting skills here," John Kruk said on the telecast. And he's right! What kind of parent would raise their kid to be a Philly sports fan?!?

The Phillies now have the worst record in all of baseball. They're 4-20 in their last 24 games. It's their worst start to a season since 1960.

Even the Phanatic doesn't have enough popcorn to mask all the pain.

If you want to read about the upbeat approach Pete Mackanin is taking, go give this a gander.

"In a long season, these things sometimes happen," Mackanin told reporters. "I remember Atlanta, the first half last year, was terrible. They had a real good second half. I believe we just need to get something going. We're going to put something together. I believe that."

That makes one of us.

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

The future of Villanova basketball just got brighter.

Brandon Slater, a 6-foot-6 wing and highly touted 2018 recruit, told Scout.com on Wednesday night that he has verbally committed to the Wildcats.

He later made the announcement on Twitter.

Among the 2018 recruiting class, Slater, a product of Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, is ranked in the top 30 by Scout.com and top 50 by ESPN.com. He's slated as a four-star talent by both media outlets.

Per ESPN, Slater had offers from Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Syracuse, USC and Virginia Tech. He is Villanova's first commitment for 2018.

"Going up there it just feels like a second home," Slater said, via Evan Daniels of Scout.com. "It gives me a good vibe. It's nothing like all the other schools. I just feel like a Villanova guy. It feels like PVI. It's already home."

Slater and Villanova head coach Jay Wright expressed their excitement on Twitter.