Inevitable: David Akers an Unrestricted Free Agent

Inevitable: David Akers an Unrestricted Free Agent

The writing was on the wall, the next step little more than a formality. When the NFL released its official listing of free agents at 6 p.m. Monday, David Akers' name was not followed by the word "Transition," indicating the Eagles rescinded the tag and will allow their kicker of 12 seasons to become an unrestricted free agent.

The move comes as no surprise after the Birds used a fourth round draft pick on Alex Henery, but the impending departure of the franchise's all-time leader in points is probably worth a mention.

Akers was slapped with the transition tag back in February, which guaranteed a one-year contract worth the average salary of the 10 highest paid players at his position. Other teams would still be able to sign Akers to an offer sheet, which the Eagles would then have seven days to match.

Obviously, none of that was necessary anymore. However, it also should be noted a new league rule forced the organization's hand. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams now may only use either the franchise tag or the transition tag in the same year. Since the Eagles already used the franchise tag to sign Mike Vick, the other designation was no longer available.

Of course, all of that is really beside the point, because there has been next to no chance Akers would be brought back since April.

Akers had quite the distinguished career in Philadelphia, as evidenced by his five Pro Bowl nods. While he leaves town a goat, missing two field goals that might have been the difference in a Wild Card playoff game against the eventual Super Bowl champions in January, Akers will be best remembered for being the greatest kicker in franchise history.

>> Eagles rescind David Akers' transition tag [PFT]
>> Looking At The In-House FAs-To-Be [PE.com]

Former Flyers coach Bill Dineen dies at 84

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The Associated Press

Former Flyers coach Bill Dineen dies at 84

Bill Dineen, who had the distinction of being Eric Lindros’ first NHL coach, died early Saturday morning at his home in Lake George, New York. He was 84.
 
“Such a wonderful person, who got along with everybody,” Flyers president Paul Holmgren said. “I never played for him, but worked with him in scouting. Just a great guy.” 
 
Dineen succeeded Holmgren as head coach during the 1991-92 season.
 
“When I got fired, a lot of our guys were squeezing their sticks,” Holmgren said. “They were tight. It shouldn’t be hard to play the game. When things got tough, they were a little under stress, Billy coming in, he loosened things up.”
 
Dineen coached parts of two seasons here from 1991-92 through the 1992-93 season, which was Lindros’ first year as a Flyer.
 
“Bill treated everyone with the utmost respect,” Holmgren said. “He was the perfect guy for Eric coming in here. That respect goes both ways. He was almost a grandfatherly figure for Eric at the time.”

Dineen served as a scout with the organization from 1990-91 until succeeding Holmgren as coach. He then returned to a scouting role in 1993-94 and remained with the Flyers as a scout through 1996-97.
 
Mark Howe, one of the greatest Flyers defensemen of all-time, played for Dineen as an 18-year-old rookie in the WHA with the Houston Aeros (1973-74), and also had him during his final year as a Flyer in 1991-92.
 
“He was one of the best people I ever met in the game of hockey,” Howe said. “He was a real players coach. Of all the guys I ever played for. Maybe a little Paul Holmgren, too. 
 
“If you lost the game, he was one of the very few people if you went for a bite to eat or a beer after the game you lost, you actually felt poorly for letting the coach down.”
 
Howe said Dineen’s teams weren’t all about skill.
 
“He picked people that were about ‘the team,'” Howe said. “He made me earn my spot that first year in Houston.”
 
Dineen posted a 60-60-20 record with the Flyers. His son, Kevin, played on both of those teams before assuming the captaincy from Rick Tocchet in 1993-94. 
 
A gentleman behind the bench, Bill Dineen was much the same person as a player. A former right wing who spent the majority of his six-year playing career with the Detroit Red Wings, he had just 122 penalty minutes in 322 games, scoring 51 goals and 95 points.
 
“I knew Billy for a long time," Flyers senior vice president Bob Clarke said. "He was a player and coach at the minor league level and the NHL level, but I think more importantly he was a really, really good hockey person and really good person.” 

Dineen won two WHA titles coaching the Aeros and two Stanley Cups as a player with the Red Wings. A member of the AHL Hall of Fame, Dineen also coached the Adirondack Red Wings from 1983 through 1988-89.
 
Three of his five sons — Gordon, Peter and Kevin — played in the NHL. Sons Shawn and Jerry had their roots in the AHL. 
 
“His boys are scattered all over the map,” Holmgren said. “Just a tremendous hockey family.”
 
Dineen is part of Flyer folklore trivia. He, along with Keith Allen and Vic Stasiuk, were all Red Wings teammates during 1953-53. They also shared something else in common: all three later  became Flyers head coaches.

Instant Replay: No. 1 Villanova 74, No. 23 Notre Dame 66

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The Associated Press

Instant Replay: No. 1 Villanova 74, No. 23 Notre Dame 66

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. – Villanova wasn’t ready to surrender its No. 1 ranking that quickly.

Despite trailing No. 23 Notre Dame for the first 30-plus minutes of action Saturday, Josh Hart and the Wildcats kept the Fighting Irish at striking distance and stormed ahead late for a 74-66 win in the Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center.

The Wildcats wouldn’t take their first lead of the game until the nine-minute mark of the second half, which would put the teams on the seesaw for the next few minutes of action. Trailing the Fighting Irish, 62-61, with over six minutes remaining in the game, Villanova went on a 12-5 run to close out its 10th win in as many tries.

Hart continued his spectacular senior season, pouring in a career-high 37 points, pulling down 11 rebounds and dishing out four assists, all team highs. Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges and Eric Paschall each chipped in eight points behind Hart. 

Colson Bonzie and Matt Farrelll each scored 18 points each for the Fighting Irish.  

Turning point
Leading 68-66 with under two minutes remaining, a Kris Jenkins three pointer clanked off the back of the rim and fell to the ground as a loose ball. Jalen Brunson corralled the ball before it went out of bounds and was fouled by Matt Farrell. Brunson hit both free throws to extend the Wildcats’ lead to four. 

Bonzie missed an open look at a three on the other end and Darryl Reynolds was fouled after grabbing the rebound off the miss. Reynolds sunk both free throws to put the game on ice.

Big men on campus
Villanova: Josh Hart 

Hart kept Villanova in striking distance in the first half, scoring over half of his team’s points (19) and chipping in four rebounds and three assists. Hart continued his dominance in the second half with another 18 points and seven rebounds. The senior was 10 of 14 from the field, three of four from deep and a perfect 14 for 14 from the free throw line.  

Notre Dame: Matt Farrell

The Bridgewater, New Jersey, native had an impressive homecoming. Farrell gave Villanova’s defense fits all afternoon with his scoring and playmaking abilities out of the pick-and-roll, as he finished with 18 points on 8 of 13 shooting from the field and six assists.  

Inside the box score
• Both teams struggled from deep. Notre Dame shot 6 of 22 and Villanova hit 4 of its 16 attempts

• Notre Dame led for 30:54 of playing time.

• A lot of the game was played in the half court, as both teams combined for just 13 fast-break points.

Up next
Villanova returns to The Pavilion for its fourth Big Five matchup of the early season, as the Wildcats play host to Temple on Tuesday.