Another Viewpoint: The perpetual myth of Flyer bullying

Another Viewpoint: The perpetual myth of Flyer bullying

This is a guest post from longtime reader, commenter and friend of The700Level Brent Blanchard, aka 2sentz.

This morning I was struck by how just two weeks ago, many fans and blog commenters were lamenting this team’s “lack of toughness,” then suddenly even more fans expressed outrage at Friday night’s antics. How could those views coexist? Regardless of where you stand, opinions on this underachieving team are like tracer-fire right now… winging in every direction and rarely hitting the moving target.

So really, how accurate is the Flyer’s current “bully” narrative, and how much has it tangibly hurt the team during this and the past few seasons? I was curious enough to spend almost half-a-lunch-break today researching the internet’s convenient “Flyers section,” and data indicates while their current reputation may be warranted, allegations of a tangible negative impact are not.

First, there’s penalty minutes by team. Perhaps predictably, the Flyers finished either first or second in team PIM in four of the past five years, which indicates aggressiveness, maybe even some recklessness. However, during those seasons they made the playoffs all but once, including a first-round, two second-round and a Finals appearance.

So the aggressiveness hasn’t seemed to hinder them too much… or at least not as much as holding only two solid defensemen has.

Then there’s the more literal measure of bullying and sloppy recklessness that can really hurt your team, suspensions. Over the same past five years (including start of this season), there have been 136 player suspensions for a total of 488 games (my favorite offense: “giving throat slashing motion”). Of that, the Flyers have received nine for a total of 29 games, and half of those went to their indispensable playmaker Jody Shelley.

So while the Flyers have arguably earned their fair share of suspensions, they’re not well beyond the league average, and certainly not operating roughshod with a collective cheap-shot “bullying” mentality that warrants criticism beyond any other team. There’s simply no evidence of this.

Of course there are occasional days where an untimely slash or trip leads to a critical power play. But at the end of the day, the numbers indicate—like Ray Emery, Scott Hartnell and other players have been stating—the team’s lack of ability to score and play solid D (read: talent and execution) have led to frustrations that result in fights and penalties, and not the other way around.

Nobody’s out there “gooning it up” or hurting this team with any regularity, and viewed in this context, perhaps the isolated freak-out that occurred last Friday can—as fans are hoping—actually help inspire this team without defining it. The Flyers have numerous significant issues, however aggressiveness and hard play does not appear to be one of them.

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

CHESTER, Pa. — On the eve of his comeback after missing nearly 13 months with a left tibia stress fracture and other related injuries, Union midfielder Maurice Edu fractured his left fibula on Saturday, keeping him out for the 2016 playoffs and beyond.

“I was trying to take the shot on goal and my foot got stuck in the turf,” Edu said Sunday, in his blue Union-issued suit and supported by crutches. “My ankle rolled and twisted and it kind of snapped a little bit. I heard it crack, and a lot of pain from there. I got a scan afterward, and there was a break.”

There's no timetable his return.

Edu, 30, has spent over a calendar year fighting various injuries that have kept him out of game action. His trouble began on Sept. 30, 2015, when he played through the U.S. Open Cup final with a partially torn groin and sports hernia. It was during Edu’s recovery from those injuries that he developed a stress fracture.

"A little bit frustration. A lot of frustration, to be honest," he said. "But all I can do now is get back to work, focus on the positives and make sure that my situation isn’t a distraction from the team."

Edu’s teammates were equally devastated by the news. Edu, the Union captain when healthy, is popular and well-respected in the locker room.

"I feel so bad for him," said Alejandro Bedoya, who wore a dedication to Edu under his jersey on Sunday. "He’s one of my good friends, so I was looking forward to playing alongside him. I know how hard he’s worked to get back, and to see him go out like that, it’s heartbreaking. I’m sad for his loss and I hope he stays strong."

Edu, who has been with the Union since 2014, returned to training in July and played three conditioning appearances with the Union’s USL team, Bethlehem Steel FC. He was on the bench for the Union’s last three games and was set to make his first appearance in over a year against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, a game the Union eventually lost, 2-0 (see game story).

"We’re gutted for Mo," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "He was slated to start today. It’s real upsetting because he’s worked so hard to get back on the field. It’s been a tough 2016 for him, but I know he’ll come back stronger."

While he was visibly shaken by recent injury, Edu is driven to return.

"What happened, happened," Edu said. "I have no control over that. The only thing I do have control over is my next steps from here, how I prepare myself mentally and emotionally and how I continue to support this group."

Temple picked to finish 6th in AAC preseason poll

USA Today Images

Temple picked to finish 6th in AAC preseason poll

This is starting to become a trend. One Temple hopes to continue to prove wrong.

For the third straight year, Temple was chosen to finish sixth in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll. The poll, which was released on Monday, is voted on by the conference's head coaches.

Also selected to finish sixth last season, the Owls posted a 21-12 overall record and a 14-4 mark in the AAC to reach the NCAA Tournament. In 2014-15, TU tied for third in the AAC with a 13-5 record and was one of the last teams left out of the Big Dance.

Cincinnati was tabbed to win the American title in the poll, just ahead of UConn.

Temple, who returns three starters from last season's team, opens the 2016-17 campaign against city rival La Salle at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 11.