Broken Twigs: Flight Plan in a nutshell and your Flyers questions answered

Broken Twigs: Flight Plan in a nutshell and your Flyers questions answered

Part 1 – Does Jake Voracek Even Lift, Bro?

Just because something’s been done before doesn’t mean you have to continue doing it. Those right-before-I-penetrate-you faces have got to go. You can open a game and recap things with actual on-ice footage. No one needs to see Zac Rinaldo all aroused and staring at on a Cirque de Solie set while you’re sitting there on your old grimy couch in sweats downing your 3rd glass of Sav before 7 for God knows what reason while getting ready to watch the Flyers play the Panthers.

Part 2 - Fred Armisen takes pictures of Vinny Lecavalier

First things first. Has a dad ever looked at a son with more pride than Scoot Hartnell looks at Max Talbot from the doorway during his WMMR promo?

That’s how I always imagined my dad would have looked at me if I graduated high school. GED’s ARE EQUIVALENT, DAD!

Now a true story – New York city is disgusting and magical. One time I had a male model friend who was hired to be in a photo shoot for genetically-specific vitamins. These vitamins were so racist. There were black people vitamins, white people vitamins and other. I’m really not making this up, stick with me. So they were shooting a print campaign with the theme of people being out of place and they needed hockey extras for the second shoot. It paid $500 cash just to skate around an outdoor rink in Prospect Park all day so yes please. We had to meet the crew at the first shoot in the Meatpacking District where we saw they were shooting a spot with an old granny in a biker bar – fine. So they drive us over to the rink, do a little makeup, we get dressed and hit the ice. It was late fall and a beautiful day, and I’m in NYC playing shinny on an outdoor rink with some childhood friends. What could go wrong? The crew is setting up lighting stuff all over the rink and a lot of people are apparently getting paid to stand around and do nothing, and we’re starting to wonder what it is exactly we’re there to do when we see a bunch of guys helping this older black woman onto the ice. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT I AM NOT RACIST, WHOEVER SET THIS UP WAS. We’re like “oh shit what is going on here.” She can’t even ice skate. She was so nice though and it didn’t seem to matter to her what had us feeling pretty weird – they obviously sat down in a conference room and though black people playing hockey was just the craziest thing they ever heard of. No wait! An older black woman who can’t skate with a bunch of young white dudes that can!

Anyway, they propped her up in front of the net and made us sprint up to her and snow her for like 4 hours. When Fred Armisen half-joking tells Vinny L that he knows his name so he wouldn’t need it on his stick I immediately had flashbacks to the director at this NYC shoot who kept telling us to “ski over here” and “ski up to me.” Why can’t you be creative AND into sports? What’s wrong with you people?

I never saw the ad anywhere, I assume, because the product and everything to do with it was completely racist. I would occasionally wander into a GNC and look for this thing call Gen-Spec over the next couple years and luckily never found a bottle of it. Oh yeah, then they black-faced a Swedish stunt guy, threw a wig on him and made us give him the Hanson Brothers treatment for a video extra that was supposed to go on their website.

Next!

Part 3 – Scott Hartnell starring Steve Hartnell

Tell me you weren’t worried that Hartsy was going to fall during any of his various NHL Network promo shoots. Remember that one where he almost lost the puck coming around the corner? Whoa baby!

Part 4 – I <3 Bruno

I was sooooo ready to make fun of Bruno Gervais when I saw him walking into the Steve and Preston Show. But then one of the very first things he said was that he brought shirtsys and that they were only one number off from Claude Giroux’s. Self-deprecation! This is a life lesson kids – self-deprecation shows you are at least capable of being humble, which good people appreciate. Bottom tier guys are almost always genuinely nicer than superstars. That’s just the way the world works. Now I want Bruno to be the 7th defenseman. Happy Trails Hal Gill!

I think I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating – I’m a big fan of the idea that is Flight Plan, just the execution needs some work. What we’re actually seeing is a behind the scenes view of things we’ve already seen or will see this seaon. What has made 24/7, NHL 36 and Oil Change so great is that we’re getting glimpses into previously entirely unseen aspects of the NHL Life. There have been a couple moments in Flight Plan thus far that have touched on this – Lappy addressing the rookies and Chris Pryor scaring the shit out of a room full of grown men – but otherwise Flight Plan is just another camera where there are already dozens – the Draft table, Trial on the Isle, all this promotional stuff. There’s no narrative being woven and there’s no context being given, but hopefully this is something that comes with time and is easier to do during the season. Right now I can smell the BO coming off the two guys that get locked in a room with 10 hours of footage from all this “behind the scenes” stuff and are told to cut it down to ten minutes. There’s a lot of work going into it but it still could be a lot better.

And now the only Flyers Mailbag in the city:

@GoingHard_inger preferred bottom-6 combo: Raffl-Coots-Read, Talbot-Hall-Rhino OR Talbot-Coots-Read, Hall-Laughton-Rhino?
Scott Laughton should be begging to move to wing because I just got a live update from CNN and guess what – Claude Giroux, Vinny Lecavalier and Sean Couturier are going to be our 1, 2,3 centers for a while, possibly a long while. That being said, I’d love a 4th line of 25-18-36. Which leaves Cooter and Read on the third line with either Laughton or Raffl. I’d platoon those clowns until one of them took the job. Laughton’s been playing with a little more spunk. Raffl seems serviceable but hasn’t impressed me as much as some other, less famous members of the Philly media.

@PlaidChicken Why hasn't Homer pulled the trigger on a trade for John Scott yet?
Am I the only one who thought that shit was great? All this talk about The Code…I read that book. All it did was contradict itself. It’s a great anthology of war stories from NHL’s Wild Wild West phase but The Code basically boiled down to “do whatever you think is necessary at that moment.” Jump stars, fight heavy weights, slash coaches – whatever. I don’t think Scott acutally had any intention of punching Phil Kessel. He knew what was going to happen. He would have started with a punch Carcillo-Bradley style if he really wanted to hit him, not gone for the double panda grab.

Back in the good old days when one guy with a type-writer told you what to think instead of 400 blogs this just would have been an almost-fight. Right Panatch?

@tunzo17 how large of a roll will Zac Rinaldo have in the Rob Zombie Flyers movie?
Did you know Rob Zombie has a pair of boots he’s been wearing for 20 years? I already had no idea what to expect from this movie that I’ve been hearing about for 17 years and hasn’t started shooting yet. I like that they’re going with the Hail Mary for this story instead of possibly shooting something that ends up being Stuck on You 2 - The Bernie Parent and Bobby Clarke Story.

@Mager_Pls agree or disagree, Flyers should all come out onto the rink with their jerseys tucked.
How could you even suggest something so dangerous?

Even with Jordan Matthews' return, Paul Turner still in Eagles' plans

Even with Jordan Matthews' return, Paul Turner still in Eagles' plans

There were just two things on Paul Turner’s mind as he sprinted across the field early during the third quarter on Sunday, anticipating his first career NFL catch. 

Turner relayed them on Wednesday: 

1. “Make sure you get in [Carson Wentz’s] vision.” 

2. “You better catch this ball.” 

He did both. 

Turner, the 23-year-old undrafted receiver from Louisiana Tech, who has become a fan favorite since his stellar training camp and preseason, caught his first NFL pass during Sunday’s loss to the Bengals and it went for a big gain of 41 yards. 

On his first catch, the Eagles used the play-action to tilt the defense and Wentz threw a dart into a small window to hit Turner on an over route. Then, the rookie turned upfield with a ton of space in front of him. 

By the end of the afternoon, he caught six balls for 80 yards. It was the best receiving day for an Eagles rookie since Jordan Matthews in 2014 and was a better day than last year’s first-round pick, Nelson Agholor, has ever had. 

“It's always good to catch a few balls,” said Turner, who has been on the 53-man roster and active for just the past two games. “It gets your motor going and gets your confidence going. It just gets you more into the game and gets you excited. I think it does a lot for a person's confidence.”

Turner played 41 snaps against the Bengals in large part because Matthews was out with an ankle injury. Matthews predominantly plays in the slot, which is where head coach Doug Pederson and his coaching staff like Turner. 

“Honestly, that wasn't really my mindset going into the game,” Turner said when asked if he knew how much opportunity he’d have with Matthews out. “My mindset was to go in there and if my number was called, just go out there and make a play. Even if my number was called, just take care of my assignment and take care of the little details and I knew everything else would just take care of itself. I knew that if I got the ball, I'd be excited. But even if I didn't, just to go out there and just block, and give up myself for my teammates. That was my goal coming into the game and just try to stay focused on that.” 

It appears as though Turner has done enough to warrant keeping his playing time. As Matthews returned to practice on Wednesday — as a limited participant — Pederson said there will still be opportunities for Turner. 

“There are, there are,” Pederson said. “And these are things we talked about the last couple of days as a staff — getting Paul in there, even with Jordan coming back. I think it can be a benefit to the offense to have both of those guys ready to go.”

The Eagles still haven’t had more than four receivers active for any game this season. During the last two weeks when Turner has played, either Agholor or Matthews were out. 

“It means a lot that the coaching staff has confidence in me,” Turner said. “My biggest thing is just to come in here and just work each and every day in practice and just prepare in practice so I'm prepared when I go out there in the game.” 

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

OXON HILL, Md. -- Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen -- a very rich spot, too.

The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.

Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever -- that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.

Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.

With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.

Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.

Rangers: Gomez reaches deal to stay with team
OXON HILL, Md. -- Carlos Gomez is staying with the Texas Rangers.

The outfielder agreed to an $11.5 million, one-year contract, a deal subject to a successful physical.

"Many of the objectives of the Rangers for Carlos go beyond one year," his agent, Scott Boras, said Wednesday. "Certainly Carlos really enjoyed the team and the environment and feels he's got a great chance to win. So I think both parties' objectives were met by that deal."

Gomez, who turned 31 last weekend, figures to play center as general manager Jon Daniels structured an outfield that includes Shin-Soo Choo in right and Nomar Mazara in left. Ian Desmond left Wednesday for a $70 million, five-year deal with Colorado.

Gomez batted just .210 with five homers in 85 games this year for Houston and was released by the Astros in August. He signed with Texas and hit .284 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games. An All-Star in 2013 and '14 with Milwaukee, Gomez has a .257 average and 116 home runs in 10 big league seasons.

"J.D. was very clear from the onset about them wanting Carlos back, and we've had communication since the season's end to pursue that," Boras said. "So it was something in our minds and in their minds. It was just a constant dialogue."

AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.

Red Sox: Sale not worried about being ace
BOSTON -- New Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale says he isn't worried that he might not be the ace of the pitching staff after being traded from the White Sox to Boston.

The 27-year-old lefty told reporters on Wednesday, "We play for a trophy, not a tag."

Sale was traded to the Red Sox on Tuesday at the baseball winter meetings. He was the top starting pitcher on the market, and the Red Sox gave up touted prospect Yoan Moncada as part of a package to land him.

Sale has been an All-Star for five straight seasons and finished in the top six of the Cy Young Award voting each time. He joins a staff that already includes 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello and '12 winner David Price (see full story).