thekrisheim’s 2013 Year in Philly Sports

thekrisheim’s 2013 Year in Philly Sports

One of our favorite end of year traditions here at is having one of our longest tenured commenters and friend, thekrisheim, reflect back on the year in Philly sports that was. You can read his look back at 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and today his look back at 2013 below.

No playoffs, new faces, bandwagons gathering dust, the undercurrent of disappointment has returned.  Sure, the year is ending on a high note with the Eagles seemingly headed in the right direction, but don’t fool yourself, eight weeks of Chip Kelly magic and one battle cry doesn’t mask what a downright boring and terrible year 2013 was for Philly sports.

We’ve already covered the biggest wins and losses, so lets look back at some of the bigger stories.

Under New Management

You want new coaches? Philadelphia had you covered in 2013 as all four franchises, five if you give soccer the respect that it is due, turned over the reigns to new faces at some point during the year.

The 2012 Eagles season was a disaster on and off the field and Andy Reid was finally replaced.  Who knows what happened? Who knows why Reid starting making knee jerk changes all over his coaching staff, but what it resulted in was worthy of his dismissal.  Reid deserves a ton of credit for what he achieved with the Eagles and it wont truly be appreciated for a few more seasons.

Charlie Manuel was dumped from his position on a Friday in August in a strange fashion that seemed to have been planned out so he could achieve the most wins in franchise history.  What followed was an emotional press conference where RAJ couldn’t hide back tears, Charlie was Charlie and the Ryne Sanberg era began.

Mr. Snider said it was the worst training camp he had ever seen and the coach who took an 8 seed to the finals was dumped before anyone could see Peter Laviolette's fourth orange tie of the year.

Doug Collins yelled, Doug Collins cried and Doug Collins was canned.  Collins’ firing was only one part of the failed 76ers marketing plan that sent the team into complete rebuilding mode.

Doctor’s Orders

2013 saw the end of Roy Halladay’s career. There isn’t a better athlete that represents just how fantastic and entertaining the last 7 years for Philadelphia fans were than Roy.  He came to the city in the prime of his career to win a Championship, something unheard of before the likes of Howard, Rollins, Hamels and Utley made it a reality.  He was a tireless worker, understood the fans and pitched injured. During the Phillies run it was really easy to get caught up in players wanting to play in Philadelphia, but Halladay was the first and will be beloved forever.

Culture Clash

Fans never really know what it is going on inside a franchise.  Who’s doing what?  Who’s really making the decisions? They signed who?  As the losses added up this year, may fans and writers alike tried to pull back the veil a bit and tried to decipher what was going on.

The Eagles seemed to be the easiest at this point, although following the Giants loss the over analyzing of their roster was at an all-time high.  Chip Kelly coaches, Howie Roseman GM’s.

They Flyers, “Flyered” things up this year by dumping their coach, appointing one of the most beloved goons in team history head coach, dispatched of their “goalie of the future,” got into a line brawl where their backup goalie assaulted the other team and got into arguments over their “culture” with whoever would dare question the franchise.

The Sixers went from talking 24/7 to avoiding the media, trading their best player and enter into full on tank mode except no one told the players.

The Phillies retained their GM, kept their core together, added more old guys, got a stat guy (who may be an intern) and for some fucking reason kept John Mayberry Jr.

The Year In Drugs

Chooch started the year suspended.

Antonio Bastardo destroyed any career momentum he had by getting suspended for his involvement in biogenesis.

No proof that Ilya Bryzgalov acutally uses controlled substances, but he continued to be the most entertaining Philadelphia athlete throughout the year.

There’s nothing funny about what Riley Copper said, and recording and selling the video is a whole different discussion, but if Copper could take some drugs to erase his racist remark made in a drunken stooper you’d imagine he would.

Best GIFs of the Year

5. Snow game for the ages

4. Miss you, Andy

3. Your 2013 Phillies In One GIF

2. For a 3 week stretch Philadelphia actually liked Dom Brown

1. Shady from opening night

The Year In Acquisitions

The rest of the teams don’t matter in this category, only one franchise’s scouts worked overtime to bring these guys to town.  The five best acquisitons this past year are…

5. A guy the fans love to hate? Sure, throw him in the starting rotation and don’t mind his injury history – John Lannan
4. Injury prone set-up man who may or may not have needed surgery before he signed on the dotted line? – Mike Adams
3. 36 year old career 2nd baseman who waived his no trade for a shot at the WS – Michael Young
2. Washed up, bad outfielder with off the field issues – Delmon Young
1. 38 year old journeyman? Who? What? Phillies have them for days – John McDonald

The Year In “What?”

Dom Brown attends professional football game, fans not happy

Claude Giroux hurts himself playing “golf”

The Sixers open the season by beating the Heat

Why You Should Be Positive

5. Scott Laughton

4. Cody Asche

3. The NBA Draft & MCW (tie)

2. Shady

1. “We’re from Philadelphia and we fight”

Flyers-Hurricanes 5 things: Avoiding another bad 1st period

Flyers-Hurricanes 5 things: Avoiding another bad 1st period

Flyers vs. Hurricanes
7 p.m. on CSN, Pregame Live at 6:30

Another season, another slow start for the Flyers.

After dropping their home opener Thursday, the Flyers (1-2-1) welcome the Hurricanes (1-1-2) to the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night looking to snap a three-game losing skid.

Here are five things to know for Game 5 of 82.

1. Slow starts
Through four games, there are a few areas behind the Flyers' lousy start.

The defense continuing to abandon the goaltending and the lackluster power play are near the top of the list, but look no further than the first period of games.

The Flyers have been outscored, 6-1, in first periods through four games. Only Tampa Bay and Vancouver have scored fewer first-period markers with zero. The six first-period goals allowed are tied for the second most in the NHL. Only Calgary has more with seven.

It was an issue last season as well. In 2015-16, the Flyers were outscored, 62-50, in first periods, and the 50 goals ranked in the bottom five of the league. We've talked about slow starts in terms of wins-losses, but this issue extends to first periods too.

While the Flyers have exerted far greater efforts in second periods — leading the league with eight second-period tallies — getting behind so early results in playing from behind, and while resiliency is a trait of winning teams, it's ultimately cost them thus far.

On Saturday night, it doesn't get any easier for the Flyers, either. Carolina is an improved club from last season, which it, too, struggled scoring in opening periods.

That hasn't been the case this season. The 'Canes have outscored opponents, 5-2, in first periods, so it'll be important for the Flyers to come out of the gate with more authority.

2. Read-emption Song
One of the highlights of the early season for the Flyers has been the play of Matt Read.

Read scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season during the Flyers' 3-2 loss to the Ducks on Thursday, dusting off a play that brought back memories of years past.

The 30-year-old got behind the Anaheim defense on the backhand, drove to the net and deposited the puck into the net past John Gibson for a go-ahead score. It was very much a play we saw Read make a few years ago, but has been missing the last two seasons. Read came into training camp early this season hungrier than the previous two seasons, and on Wednesday, general manager Ron Hextall said Read knew he had to get back to the brand of hockey he was playing in 2013-14.

After the game Thursday, Read said his self-evaluation this offseason resulted in him realizing he has to get into the greasy areas to score and avoid playing the outside.

"I think that's something the last two years, I kind of faded away from, I was a perimeter player," Read said Thursday. "It's easy to be a perimeter player if you're going to be making plays and stuff like that. But if you want to score goals, you've got to get into those tough areas, be nasty around the net and battle for loose pucks."

3. Not so special
Special teams so often decide hockey games and it should factor into Saturday's game, too. Carolina comes into the game with a power play and penalty kill both in the top five.

The Hurricanes' man advantage has found twine five times in 16 chances, and their penalty kill has killed off 15 of 16 power plays against. On the other hand, the Flyers have had their struggles on special teams in the early going.

On Thursday night, the Flyers’ PP played a huge role in their loss. They finished 1 for 7 on the man advantage against Anaheim but were 1 for 5 in the second period alone. With Anaheim asking to be beaten, the Flyers couldn’t make the Ducks pay. 

“I thought we had pretty good power plays, our first power play,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “I thought we had a good power play during the second, scored a good goal. Had opportunities to stretch to 3-1. It’s disappointing we couldn’t.

“We had one poor power play at the end of the first, where we weren’t able to get set up at all. Our power play was OK. The bigger thing for me is the goal we gave up a few seconds after the last power play in the second period. Those are the type of goals that as a team we can’t give up.”

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: It hasn't been the smoothest transition to the NHL for Ivan Provorov, one of two 19-year-olds on the roster. Provorov has shown glimpses, but there have been hiccups, as expected. He had a nightmare of a game in Chicago on Tuesday, and followed it up with a not-so-great effort against Anaheim. But we have to remember he's a teenage rookie. Patience is important. Still, the spotlight should remain on him Saturday. How does he respond after a pair of games in which he's made visible mistakes?

Hurricanes: Carolina has a few young players that are a joy to watch, but let’s highlight defenseman Justin Faulk, who quarterbacks the power play. The 24-year-old has a goal and three assists in four games, with two of the helpers coming on the man advantage. An extremely gifted blueliner, Faulk has scored 15 and 16 goals, respectively, the last two seasons, but that wasn’t enough to get him on Team USA for the World Cup of Hockey. We all know how that panned out.

5. This and that
• Read has 14 points in 20 career games against the Hurricanes.

• Dale Weise was suspended three games for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim defenseman Korbinian Holzer. Roman Lyubimov will replace Weise in the lineup.

• Carolina has killed off its last 11 penalties and has scored at least one power-play goal in three of its four games and two power-play goals in two of its four games.

Matt Read showing Flyers he's done his homework

Matt Read showing Flyers he's done his homework

To Matt Read’s credit, his hockey education never stopped.

Through a second straight subpar season with a murky summer ahead, Read realized he had to change, even on the cusp of his 30th birthday.

It was in late April when the much-maligned winger met with head coach Dave Hakstol and turned in his homework, almost like a student-teacher conference to address troubled grades.

Read vowed he had learned.

Now, nearly six months later, he’s off to the best start of his six-year career.

“He has always been a hard-working guy,” Hakstol said Thursday. “He is a guy that is doing things with a lot of confidence. For me, it started with Reader back in late August. He was in here working early, getting ready, getting prepared and he has carried that through everything he has done so far this year.”

What he has done is rip off a team-high four goals in four games, attacking the net at will and with an undeniable bravado. Really, it’s a Matt Read we haven’t seen before. On Thursday night in the Flyers’ 3-2 home-opening loss, he took a bouncing puck at the blue line, careened toward the net on a sharp, decisive angle and buried his fourth goal with skilled stick work.

“For myself, I’m just trying to play with speed and get to the net,” he said. “I had all the speed and kind of beat the goalie to the back post.”

Last season, the bottom-six forward needed 26 games to score four goals. The year prior, it took 54 games.

So Read studied. What exactly did he grasp?

“Even my linemates, we talk about that if we’re in the offensive zone, we’ve got to get somebody in the blue paint there,” Read said Thursday. “I don’t know the stat, but I think it’s near 90 percent of all goals are within 10 feet of the net. So if you want to score goals, you’ve got to get in that area.”

This offseason, Read looked in the mirror and, with some self-evaluation, knew what had to be done.

“I think that’s something the last two years, I kind of faded away from, I was a perimeter player,” he said. “It’s easy to be a perimeter player if you’re going to be making plays and stuff like that. But if you want to score goals, you’ve got to get into those tough areas, be nasty around the net and battle for loose pucks.”

A new outlook has brought renewed confidence. It’s fair to question whether over the last two seasons if Read ever makes the play he made Thursday. He also knows it’s early and more can be accomplished.

“I feel good out there right now,” Read said. “Hopefully I continue to have good health, keep working out and being strong on my feet. A lot of it has to do with confidence. If you’re shy or not having the confidence, you probably won’t go to that far post.

“I know for myself in the last two years, I know I’ve got to be better. Even going into last year, I knew I had to be better and I did as much I could in the offseason to have a good season and I guess it didn’t go my way, or over the course of the season, it took its toll.”

Read amassed 11 goals and 15 assists in 79 games. The 26 points were a personal low for a full season. Those figures didn’t sit well with Read and general manager Ron Hextall noticed.

“You know what, Reader came in early before camp, he's absolutely worked his tail off,” Hextall said Wednesday. “He understood that he hadn't been as good a player as he should have been last year. He understood it, he took it upon himself, put in a great summer, came in early, got himself in great shape, and he's a hungry hockey player right now and he's been back to where he was.”

When signed by the Flyers in 2011 out of Bemidji State University, it was uncertain where Read projected. Over the past two seasons, he’s fallen to a fourth-line role and was even healthy-scratched last season. More buzz surrounding his status within the organization heated up entering training camp as the Flyers made additions and Travis Konecny blossomed.

Thus far, however, Read has won himself a promotion to the third line because of his early success. He played only 16 power-play seconds Thursday, but if goals keep coming and the Flyers produce more 1-for-7 results on the man advantage, maybe Hakstol increases the 30-year-old’s minutes there, as well.

“When Matt Read is playing like he can play,” Hextall said, “he's a helluva player.”

Not a bad student, too.