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?

Roland Alberg's goal, assist propel Union past Sporting Kansas City, 2-0

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USA Today Images

Roland Alberg's goal, assist propel Union past Sporting Kansas City, 2-0

CHESTER, Pa. -- Roland Alberg entered the game at the perfect time.

With his club holding the man advantage as a result of Jimmy Medranda’s second yellow card in the 57th minute, Union manager Jim Curtin tapped Alberg off the bench to replace Fabian Herbers in the 65th minute. 

Two minutes later, the Union took the lead. From the left side, Fabinho found Alberg at the top of the box, where he teed off a shot at that ripped past Alec Kann to open scoring in the eventual 2-0 Union win over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium.

It was Alberg’s ninth goal of the season.

The Union now have wins in back-to-back games for the first time since March, pushing their record to 11-9-7 and temporarily jumping them over the New York Red Bulls for third in the Eastern Conference. SKC falls to 11-12-5.

Facing Sporting Kansas City at Talen Energy Stadium for the first time since the 2015 U.S. Open Cup title game, the Union, who lost that game in penalty kicks, wanted to dictate tempo. However, the club was unable to break down SKC’s stout midfield until the red cards started flying.

Already down a man, things began to unravel for SKC in the 87th minute, when Roger Espinoza was shown a straight red for tossing what appeared like an inadvertent elbow to the midsection of Alberg. 

In stoppage time, up two men, the Union put the exclamation point on the win. Alberg found Tranquillo Barnetta in an open pocket of the SKC defense, and with space, the Swiss veteran placed his shot to the right and in, sealing the 2-0 win.

Joel Embiid says he's '100 percent' back from foot injury, excited to play with Ben Simmons

Joel Embiid says he's '100 percent' back from foot injury, excited to play with Ben Simmons

Avalon, N.J. -- Joel Embiid has been waiting since 2014 to make his NBA debut. Two years later, the former third overall pick is nearing that day.

“I feel a hundred percent,” Embiid said Saturday at the Sixers Beach Bash. “I’m ready to get started. My summer has been great. We’ve been working out a lot this past summer, just getting some runs in. I’ve gotten a chance to play a little bit against the guys.” 

Embiid’s pro career has been sidelined by injuries, undergoing two foot surgeries in as many years. The first was to repair a stress fracture in his right navicular bone. The second, a bone-graft operation on the same bone. 

The 7-foot-2 big man has been rehabbing since then, traveling as far as Qatar in the process. This offseason Embiid was cleared for monitored, five-on-five drills. He joined the Sixers during the Las Vegas Summer League to continue his recovery away from game competition.

“It’s been really tough,” Embiid said. “The main thing is, I haven’t gotten a chance to get on the court and play, or help my teammates, or play in front of Sixers fans. I look forward to it and I can’t wait.”

Embiid said he “definitely” plans to be a go for training camp. He expects there will be a transition period once cleared to play given the length of his rehab, but notes he is a quick learner. Embiid also anticipates having restrictions, but has not discussed the specifics with the Sixers. 

“Probably,” he said. “But I think the restrictions would probably be about the fact that I haven’t played in two years. It’s not going to be about because people are worried that I’m going to re-injure myself, which I don’t think is going to happen.”

One player who is eager for Embiid’s return is rookie first overall pick Ben Simmons. The two have been friends since high school. They easily gel off the court, and plan to do the same in games. 

“He has great footwork, he has great touch, so I’m looking forward to playing with him,” Simmons said, continuing, “Off the court, we’re like brothers. We have fun.” 

Embiid has been present with the Sixers for games and practices. He has had numerous conversations with head coach Brett Brown about his days on the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff and how the organization achieved success with fellow big Tim Duncan, one of Embiid’s basketball role models. 

With an abundance of bigs, the Sixers will have to determine how they share the floor. For Embiid, who can also knock down long-range shots, he plans to fill whatever role the coaches outline for him.

“I think I’ll take a couple threes, but I’ll do what’s best for the team and whatever I’ll feel comfortable doing,” he said. “Obviously they’re going to need my presence inside and that’s what I’m going to do. But when I’m open, I might fire some threes.”

After a series of setbacks, Embiid is enthusiastic about the thought of making his NBA debut. 

“It feels great,” he said. “Especially after the past two years, I haven’t been able to do what I love. It just feels great.”  

A.J. Ellis still adjusting, learning names as he joins the Phillies

A.J. Ellis still adjusting, learning names as he joins the Phillies

NEW YORK – It wasn’t easy leaving the only professional organization he’d ever been part of, but new Phillie A.J. Ellis, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Carlos Ruiz trade Thursday, is coming to terms with it.

“To find out that the trade went down, it was hard,” Ellis said upon reporting to his new club Saturday. “It was so immediate and sudden, really hard to say goodbye to a lot of relationships I had been blessed to forge for more than a decade.

“But the waves of emotion are getting farther and farther apart, which is a good thing.”

Ellis, 35, was drafted by the Dodgers in 2003 and rose to the majors with them in 2008. With the Phillies, he will serve a similar role to the one he played with the Dodgers – backup catcher. Ellis wasted no time getting to know the pitching staff he will now work with. He arrived at Citi Field early Saturday afternoon and caught Jake Thompson and Jerad Eickhoff in their between-starts bullpen sessions.

Ellis said “Eichorn” when referring to Eickhoff. He’s forgiven. It’s been a whirlwind week.

“See?” he said. “I’m still learning names.”

Ellis, who served as the personal catcher for Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw, was blindsided by the trade.

“When I was summoned to the ballpark, that’s never really a good thing, especially when the front office wants to meet with you as far as where you’re at with the club, you know some kind of transition is happening,” he said. “The first 12 hours were definitely the hardest.

“But to arrive here and arrive in the clubhouse, meeting the staff, I’m starting to feel re-energized, refilled with a sense of purpose as to why I’ve been placed here, and why this is where I need to be at this time. I’m excited about that.

"I know I have huge shoes to fill. Carlos Ruiz is such a fixture in the Phillies organization. The work that he’s done here behind the plate, you can’t fill. This guy is a world champion catcher who has been back there for so many great baseball memories. So it’s up to me to do my part to fill the void.”

Manager Pete Mackanin thought about putting Ellis in the lineup Saturday night then had some mercy when he figured facing hard-throwing Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard might not be the best indoctrination for a guy who just flew cross-country. Ellis is likely to start Sunday afternoon’s series finale and catch Vince Velasquez.

That doesn’t mean he wasn’t asked to make a contribution to Saturday night’s game. Mackanin said he wanted Ellis to speak with the Phillies hitters about the weaknesses the Dodger pitchers tried to exploit.

“We talk to them about this stuff all the time, but it might help to hear it from an outside source,” Mackanin said.

Ellis left a first-place club for a rebuilding team. That’s not easy. He has come to terms with that. He likes the young talent on the Phillies’ roster and hopes to help it come to flower.

“Guys are playing for their careers,” he said. “Guys are playing to make their mark in this game and create a winning franchise once again in Philadelphia. 

"You see the talent, you see their desire to learn, their desire to get better. You just know the youth on this staff, the talent level on this staff. And if I can in some short time here impact some wisdom on those guys, share some of the wisdom along the way that I’ve picked up from some great mentors I’ve had in my time in the game, I need to pay it back, from what all has been given to me.”

Ellis hit just .197 with a .285 on-base percentage in 53 games for the Dodgers this season. That’s one of the reasons the Dodgers acquired Ruiz – to get more production from their right-handed-hitting backup catcher. Ruiz had a .369 on-base percentage at the time of the trade.

Phillies’ general manager Matt Klentak was “adamant” that Ellis come back on the deal because he wanted someone who could fill Ruiz’ void on (behind the plate) and off (with clubhouse leadership) the field. Ellis’ time with the Phillies might be short. He will be a free agent at the end of the season and his playing time might be scant as September unfolds. The Phils will probably add prospect Jorge Alfaro to the catching mix sometime during that month. Management seems eager to get a look at him while still getting No. 1 catcher Cameron Rupp the game reps he needs.