What a Judge's Decision Means to the Eagles and Trading Kolb

What a Judge's Decision Means to the Eagles and Trading Kolb

The first big step toward resolving the NFL lockout was taken on
Wednesday, when a Minnesota court heard arguments for a "preliminary
injunction" in the players' antitrust lawsuit against the league.
Basically, Judge Susan Nelson is being asked to lift the lockout because
the players—who are no longer unionized—believe the lockout is illegal
under antitrust laws, and will suffer "irreparable harm" if they are not
allowed to work. It's all here in this handy guide.

While Judge Nelson might be sympathetic to the cause of the players, admitting they appear to present a strong case,
she didn't seem to have Kevin Kolb's interests in mind. The court did
not make a decision at the hearing's conclusion, instead taking the case
"under advisement," and although a decision will be reached soon, Judge
Nelson said it would come in a couple of weeks. The NFL Draft begins on
April 28.

The date of the draft is important because assuming the Eagles intend
to trade Kolb for picks in 2011, the lockout first must end. A couple
of weeks, in its most literal translation, suggests a ruling will come
no less than eight days prior to the draft. Under that best case
scenario, it would give the front office precious little time to hammer
out a deal, and that's if the judge has reached a decision by then, or
sides with the players in the first place. Oh, and one more obstacle:
the league will appeal when the lockout is blocked, which could delay
the process for weeks.

So that means the Eagles are stuck with Kolb?

Not necessarily. Nobody really knows what is going to happen. The
players could win their injuction, and the court could end the lockout
even with an appeal pending. While that would leave only a small window
for the Eagles to negotiate a trade before the draft, it still should be
enough time to get something done. Plus, despite the fact that teams
can't officially swap players, there is no reason why they couldn't take
calls. The Inquirer's Jeff McLane reported two weeks ago that one team
at least has already offered a first round pick.

Should the lockout continue through the draft, the Eagles can still
unload Kolb before the season begins. It may not be ideal, but the
Eagles could accept draft picks in 2012. The fact of the matter is, they
are in a position where both Kolb and Mike Vick are scheduled to become
free agents next year (if this thing is over by then), and in lieu of
reaching an extension with one or the other (also impossible right now),
the club risks watching somebody walk away for nothing.

Even in the event of a protracted lockout lasting deep into summer,
the Eagles are in a position where they should strike a deal. There are
concerns over a player's trade value, particularly a quarterback, if
training camps open up late and teams are scrambling to get ready for
the season. Also, once the draft has been completed, fewer teams will be
in the market.

Not to say those factors wouldn't have any impact at all on Kolb's
value, but they don't completely preclude making a fair trade. The fact
is, there aren't enough available starting-caliber quarterbacks already
in the league or in the draft, so there will be teams looking to fill a
need there. In particular, clubs that employ a variation of the west
coast offense still make sense, because it wouldn't take as long to get
Kolb up to speed.

For instance, one increasingly interesting landing spot for Kolb
could be Cincinnati. Carson Palmer insists he is finished there, and
frankly, he is no longer very good. New offensive coordinator Jay Gruden
is installing a timing-based west coast offense, and former Eagles
quarterbacks coach Jay Urban recently joined the staff. That seems like a
comfortable fit for everybody, and with the extra picks from a
potential Palmer-to-Miami trade (or wherever), they could boldly skip
quarterback early in the draft and outbid the rest of the league later
for Kolb's services.

There are an endless array of possibilities, but most important, the
ongoing lockout and lack of an immediate ruling on the injunction in the
antitrust case have not vanquished the Eagles' options just yet. With
every day that passes, the chances of winding up with an extra first
round pick in this year's draft decrease, yet even that is not quite
lost. For now, we wait on the courts.

Flyers-Oilers 10 observations: Two big rallies and the win streak pushes forward

Flyers-Oilers 10 observations: Two big rallies and the win streak pushes forward

Ten observations from the Flyers' 6-5 win over the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night, their seventh straight win and longest win streak since Dec. 2-15, 2011 (see Instant Replay).

1. And the Flyers (somehow) did it. They won their seventh straight game on a night Steve Mason wasn't his best — five goals allowed for the third time this season — and the team defense was largely atrocious. Michael Raffl scored a beautiful goal for the game-winner at 18:31 of the third period and the Flyers held on. This game had a 1980s feel to it. Lots of scoring. Highly entertaining. And the Flyers found a way to win it. This team is on a roll.

2. From the Flyers' perspective, the most entertaining moment of the opening 20 minutes came with 5:31 left in the first period, when Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning and Oilers center Connor McDavid exchanged words post-whistle in the Philadelphia zone.

Manning broke McDavid's collarbone last season, which forced McDavid to miss a chunk of his rookie season. Nothing more than a little pushing and shoving with some trash talk.

Still, the sequence brought the most excitement in the first period. Speaking of which …

3. For a team that entered on a six-game winning streak, the Flyers' first-period effort was disheartening. They needed more than nine minutes to get their first shot on goal, and had more shots in the final two minutes — five — than they did the first 18 minutes.

No real scoring chances, either, out of the nine first-period shots. Raffl had a nice chance, but Oilers goalie Jonas Gustavsson was able to make the stop.

That's two straight games the Flyers have had poor first periods. Tuesday, they were tied, 1-1, with the Panthers, but faced a 1-0 deficit Thursday. Better first periods are needed.

4. Boy, the Flyers woke up quick after the 10-minute mark of the second period.

Down 2-0, the Flyers scored three goals in one minute and 12 seconds in the second period — 12:31, 13:24 and 13:43 — to get the Wells Fargo Center jumping.

Mark Streit started it off with a power-play goal, followed by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and then Claude Giroux. Bellamare beat Gustavsson with a well-placed wrist shot, which may have been the fourth-liner's best shot of his NHL career, for his first of the year.

Giroux's diving slapper gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead 19 seconds later. The loudest the building may have been this season. It had a playoff atmosphere after Giroux's goal.

5. Let's talk about McDavid. We hear about how fast he is, how skilled he is, how special he is, and he is every bit as advertised. You see it more when you see him in person.

McDavid scored his first power-play goal of the season at 4:35 of the second period, his 12th goal of the campaign. He rocketed home a one-timer from Leon Draisaitl off a rebound.

The 19-year-old kid leads the NHL in scoring and just scored his first PPG. The kid is special. Very special. Side note, McDavid chirped Manning after his PPG.

6. And, of course, McDavid was a factor in another Oilers goal. After the Flyers took momentum with their three goals in just over a minute, McDavid took it right back.

While the Oilers were shorthanded, McDavid was double-teamed in the corner left of Mason by Andrew MacDonald and Bellamare, but he was able to shovel the puck to Mark Letestu, who then found Andrej Sekera for a blast by Mason to make it 3-3 at 16:15 of the second period.

The credit for that goal goes all to McDavid. Tremendous strength by a 19-year-old who was being pinned against the boards by a 30-year-old and 31-year-old, respectively.

Sekera's goal was the seventh shorthanded goal allowed by the Flyers — most in the NHL.

7. I was skeptical of using the Bellemare line against McDavid, but at 5-on-5, Bellemare, Chris VandeVelde and Roman Lyubimov did a decent job against McDavid. Still, the Oilers' captain finished with a goal and assist. The Flyers held McDavid without a breakaway.

The Bellemare line did a tremendous job at 5-on-5.

8. The fans grew restless with the referees in the third period. First, Brayden Schenn put a loose puck into the net, but Gustavsson had covered it and the whistle had blown quickly. And then, McDavid tackled Ivan Provorov on a break. Should have been a penalty.

9. We hear about McDavid all the time, but Edmonton has another young star in Draisaitl, who found himself off the McDavid line against the Flyers.

No problem for the 2014 No. 3 overall pick. Draisaitl had a goal and two assists and displayed an uncanny ability to find open players and get them the puck.

In a game featuring McDavid, it was Draisaitl who stole the show. Wow.

10. It was Goaltender Heritage Night at the Wells Fargo Center, but there were no special ceremonies. The honorees, voted by the fans, were Bernie Parent, Ron Hextall, Pelle Lindberg, Pete Peeters and Brian Boucher. Outside of some interviews during stoppages and a cool, little presentation during introductions, there was nothing to write home about. There was an uptick in goalie jerseys in the crowd.

Personal favorite? A Brian Boucher No. 1 Philadelphia Phantoms sweater.

Instant Replay: Sixers 99, Pelicans 88

ap-sixers-joel-embiid.jpg
Associated Press

Instant Replay: Sixers 99, Pelicans 88

BOX SCORE

NEW ORLEANS -- The Sixers avoided setting a franchise mark of consecutive road losses with a 99-88 win over the Pelicans in New Orleans.

Prior to Thursday’s victory, the Sixers had lost 23 straight away from Philadelphia. Their last road win was Jan. 20, 2016 against the Magic. They also had dropped 23 consecutive games on the road from March 29 - Dec. 23, 2015. 

The Sixers held Anthony Davis, the NBA’s leading scorer, to 26 points, below his season average of 31.6. They were led by Ersan Ilyasova, who dropped 23 points again after scoring 23 in the Sixers’ last game against the Grizzlies. 

Third-quarter transformation
The Sixers trailed the Pelicans 57-52 at halftime and struck back defensively in the third. They held the Pelicans to 5 for 25 shooting from the field and 2 for 12 from three in the quarter. The Sixers outscored the Pelicans 19-12 in the quarter to regain the lead. 

Inside the box score
• Davis recorded a 26-point, 11-rebound double-double. He shot 8 for 21 from the field, 0 for 2 from three and 10 for 12 from the line. 

• Ilyasova scored 23 points (9 for 16 from the field, 2 for 6 from three, 3 for 4 from the line), eight rebounds and four assists.

• Joel Embiid contributed 14 points (5 for 15 from the field, 0 for 5 from three, 4 for 5 from the line), seven rebounds, two assists, four blocks and three steals in 27 minutes.

• Sergio Rodriguez gave a solid 16 points (6 for 13 from the field, 4 for 8 from three) and eight dimes.

• Nik Stauskas and Dario Saric combined for 27 points off the bench.

• St. Joe’s alum Langston Galloway dropped 19 points (8 for 16 from the field, 3 for 6 from long range) off the Pelicans’ bench.

Trusting the process in New Orleans
It follows Embiid on the road. Fans chanted “trust the process” while he was at the free throw line. The volume was more quiet than at the Wells Fargo Center, but the effort was there nonetheless. 

Injury updates
The Sixers were without Jahlil Okafor, who remained in Philadelphia battling gastroenteritis. Jerryd Bayless also missed the trip because of left wrist soreness. Former Sixer Jrue Holiday sat out with turf toe. 

Up next
The Sixers will return home to Philadelphia to get in some practice before heading back on the road. They will play the Pistons in Detroit on Sunday.