Broken Twigs: Flyers Hockey League of Nations Lady Byngers

Broken Twigs: Flyers Hockey League of Nations Lady Byngers

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FGSB is off vacationing in the woods with Rocky IV this week, please leave your mailbag questions after the beep and we’ll try to get to them next week. In the meantime, enjoy the following hack job:

Over at Puck Daddy they’re running a segment called National Hockey League of Nations in which local bloggers pick the their franchises best all-time player from like 8 countries. Obviously there’s not much wiggle room with the Flyers (or probably any club) when it comes to selecting Bobby Clarke, John Leclair, Ilya Bryzgalov and a couple other greats. Not much room for debate. But because we’re wild and crazy kids, instead of coming up with our own list of just the greatest players, we decided to take it in a slightly different direction and hit you with the Flyers Hockey League of Nations Lady Byngers. The criteria were as follows: you should have more than 200 games played and less than 200 PIM. And that’s it.  Without further ado, here you have the best, most gentlemanly players from the biggest, baddest ugliest franchise in the history of hockey (Mutant League Hockey aside).

Canada: Claude Giroux, 2007-present, 333 GP, 290 pts., 135 PIM


Although he does have 7 NHL fights (:o), Captain Claude was easily the best player to fit the 200+ game/200- PIM criteria. Claude’s never going to win an actual Lady Byng as he plays with an edge , as displayed in the Pittsburgh series two years ago. But all-in-all he’s just so damn skilled that he doesn’t have time to be taking slashing penalties. Steve Hartnell could learn something from the guy.

Worth mentioning is Jody Hull. I’m not sure this is a record that any Flyer would or should be proud of owning, but Hull has the lowest PIM per game all-time of guys that have played 200 games in the orange and black. The dude had 26 PIM in 210 games as a Flyer. Had I known about this at the time I would have revoked is goatee pass. All his penalties were minors. In fact, Hull’s second year as a Flyer he had 4 PIM in 67 games. How is that even possible? He either wasn’t trying hard enough or was the sneakiest bastard to ever lace up skates.

Finland: Ilkka Sinisalo, 1981-1990, 526 GP, 408 pts., 180 PIM

Ilkka is well-renowned as the greatest Finn to ever don the flying P, and he also played a clean game. Ilkka had two fighting majors in his NHL career, the first came 2:22 into a game where in the third period some ja-moke broke his stick over Bobby Clarke’s head. Du Hast!

Coming in as a close second was The Next Generation’s favorite Finn, Sami Kapanen. Sami only had 70 PIM in 311 games, but his offensive stats just don’t come close to Ilkka-Score-a-Hat-Tricka.

USA: Matt Carle, 2008-2012, 308 GP, 137 pts., 91 PIM


No one would ever accuse Matt Carle of aggressive play. If the Pronger-Carle pairing was Between Two Ferns then Carle was the ferns. I’m not even sure he could talk. The guy just like, wasn’t there. But pairing up with Chris Pronger is a good way to avoid opponents getting in your face as well as pad your stat sheet. Pre-Pronger Carle had 24 points in 64 games in 2008-09. Post-Pronger Carle averaged 81 games and 38 points a season. So yeah, Matt Carle owes Chris Pronger a Christmas card every year that says “Thanks for getting me a 6 year $33m contract, Love the Carles and Rocko the Bulldog.”

He didn’t make the Columbus list as even an honorable mention, but I think RJ Hamberger should be in the conversation here. 78 PM over 3 seasons? That smells gentlemanly to me. But Umberger did have 3 fights as a Flyer, most notably the payback match for the only hit of Brian Campbell’s career. Wow he got cream pied (no? I’m not using that right?). In a fairly uneventful fight RJ got the upper hand, which was easier to do because he was throwing punches before Campbell’s gloves were even off. Earned an instigator for that one. Instigating is not very lady like.

Russia: Dimitri Yushkevich, 1992-1995 and 2003, 215 GP, 80 pts., 212 PIM

I assure you that Russian cyborg pictured above was at one time a Flyers defenseman. No Russian fit the criteria, but The Russian Tank was closest at just 12 PIM over the limit. DY was a thick, physical dude but managed to stay out of the box for the most part. My only real Yushkevich memory is the time that Rod Brind’Amour scored a goal and DY kissed him right on the mouth in the group hug. That is lady like. These days the Westboro Baptist Church would have been outside the Spectrum for the very next home game. That probably would have been a good thing because now they wouldn’t exist (Note to youngsters: before cell phone cameras and video and the 24 hour news cycle you used to be able to just “eliminate” radical groups like that.).

Slovakia: Stanley Cup Champion Michal Handzus, 2002-2006, 237 GP, 146 pts., 166 PIM

(Faces of Zeus)

Zeus was lucky that he had a cool nickname because otherwise people would have been all over him for not using his giant body to totally level punks from the opposing team. Zeus is the only guy on this list that was involved in the infamous Flyers-Senators brawl of 2004, during which he got absolutely smashed up by Carrie Underwood’s husband.

Czech Republic: Miroslav Dvorak, 1982-1985, 193 GP, 85 pts., 51 PIM


To tell you the truth I’m not even sure I’ve ever heard of this guy, and I take great pleasure in knowing obscure Flyers. Dvorak is 7 games short of meeting the criteria but there were no other Czechs that even came close. Hockey Legends had this to say about Dvorak:

Miroslav Dvorak was a rock hard square built defenseman who did not make his NHL debut until he was 31 years old in 1982. That's when the Czechoslovakian Ice Hockey Federation made him available for the Flyers. Miroslav was a tough defenseman who was very hard to get by. He excelled in one on one situations and was excellent positionally. Miroslav played the body very well but he didn't pick up many penalties. He was aggressive but not stupid. When he played in Philadelphia his play was highly appreciated by the Philadelphia organization. In 1983-84 he was named as the team's top defenseman. The popular teammate nicknamed "Cookie" also got to play in the Stanley Cup finals in 1985 where Philadelphia lost in six games to Edmonton. He spoke no English when he first arrived in Philadelphia. Defense partner Brad Marsh took him under his wing both on and off the ice. With a Czech-English dictionary and a common appreciation for beer the two became best friends.

Now that I think about it, I believe I’ve read of Bill Meltzer’s fondness for Dvorak who died in 2008 at the age of 56. RIP Miroslav.

Sweden: Pelle Eklund, 1985-1994, 589 GP, 452 pts., 107 PIM


Pelle Eklund is indubitably the greatest Swedish Flyer of all-time. Not the best Swede to play for the Flyers, but greatest Swede Flyer of all-time. Some of my earliest memories are of him dishing the puck across that dark ‘80’s ice, between boards that had no ads on them, to wide open line mates. I also remember my dad telling me to stay high in the slot and pick up garbage like Eklund did sometimes, ripping home wristers on goalies that wore less equipment that Darryl Sydor.

Eklund also owns the honor of being one of three Flyers who played two hundred games and somehow had less PIM per game than BERNIE PARENT. The goalie. Andre Lacroix joins Jody Hull and Eklund in that category.

Rest of the World, Lithuania: Dainius Zubrus, 1996-1999, 200 GP, 62 pts., 89 PIM

From Tim Panaccio the day Zubrus was traded away for 31 year old Mark Recchi:
As for the struggling Zubrus, 20, he had three goals and five assists in 63 games for the Flyers this season. In fairness to him, he was rushed into the NHL three seasons ago at Clarke's urging. He played every forward position and went from the first line to fourth line under three coaches - Terry Murray, Wayne Cashman and Roger Neilson. His ice time varied from a season-high 19 minutes on Jan. 3 to less than 10 minutes in the last 10 games. Zubrus never figured out whether he was a finesse player, such as Saku Koivu, or a power forward such as Lindros. He scored 19 career goals in 200 regular-season games as a Flyer.

Zubrus has gone on to score almost 600 points in over 1,000 NHL games so…yeah, who knows.

Trade candidates — especially Jeremy Hellickson — lead Phils to shutout of Marlins

Trade candidates — especially Jeremy Hellickson — lead Phils to shutout of Marlins

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — Jeremy Hellickson was standing in front of his locker speaking with reporters after his second strong outing in a week against the Miami Marlins when Cameron Rupp walked by an offered his take on all the trade talk surrounding the veteran pitcher.

“He’s not going anywhere,” Rupp said loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.

Hellickson laughed at his catcher’s commentary.

“I hope not,” he said.

If Hellickson really wants to stay with the Phillies and finish out this rebuilding season instead of moving to a contender for the final two months — and possibly beyond — he did himself a disservice Monday night.

He enhanced his attractiveness to potential buyers by pitching six shutout innings in the Phillies’ 4-0 win over the Miami Marlins (see Instant Replay).

Hellickson, who sports a 3.65 ERA in 21 starts, needed just 70 pitches to get through the six innings. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter with runners on second and third and two outs in a scoreless game in the top of the seventh. Ryan Howard struck out, following Cody Asche and Peter Bourjos, as the Phillies whiffed on a golden scoring chance.

“I hated taking Hellickson out of the game there, but we had an opportunity to score and I had to go for it,” manager Pete Mackanin said.

“After we didn’t score, I didn’t think we had a chance to win this game. I just thought that with their bullpen we were in trouble.”

The Phillies ended up winning with a rally against Miami’s bullpen. Tommy Joseph delivered a clutch, two-out double against Fernando Rodney in the eighth to score Maikel Franco from first. That was the only run the Phillies needed. They tacked on three against the sloppy Marlins in the ninth to finish it off.

Hellickson, David Hernandez, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez then combined to allow just one base runner in three innings to finish off the Phillies’ 11th shutout of the season. That’s the most in the majors.

“Our bullpen did a great job,” Mackanin said.

Three of the four pitchers that the Phillies used in the game — Hellickson, Hernandez and Gomez — are very much available for trades. They all pitched well with a gaggle of scouts sitting behind the backstop. A number of contending clubs — the Cubs, Orioles, Giants, Rangers and Blue Jays — had scouts at the game. Pitching, starting and relief, is high on the needs list for most of those teams.

Of course, the Marlins are looking for pitching, too. They have interest in Hellickson, though it’s not clear whether he is a top target of theirs. Maybe he will become a top target after what he’s done to the Marlins in the last week. Hellickson has pitched 14 innings over two starts against the Marlins. He has given up just six hits and a run.

“Just executing,” said the pitcher, explaining his success. “In my last two games the ball has been down for the most part. I’ve just gotten a lot of easy outs. The ball's down and not missing too many spots right now.”

Hellickson will be a free agent this winter and does not appear to be in the club’s future plan. Nonetheless, he has steadfastly said he would like to remain with the club for the rest of this season. Phillies management is not opposed to keeping Hellickson. He provides veteran stability and innings to a young rotation. But management would move Hellickson for a player that has the potential to help in the future.

Trade rumors can be distracting for a player. But Hellickson, who has been dealt twice in his career, is locked in.

“It doesn't bother me,” he said. “Once I'm in this locker room — obviously you still see it on TV and stuff — my focus is on helping us win today. Now it's on to the next start. It's been like this for a few years now so it's pretty easy to go out there right now.”

Mackanin said he had no idea what will become of Hellickson’s fate. But if the pitcher stays, he won’t complain.

“At this point, I don’t want to lose him,” Mackanin said. “I wish he could stay here. He’s that solid for us. He’s been like that the whole year.”

The Phillies needed a good pitching effort to pull this one out. Their hitters struck out 13 times, left 11 men on base and went just 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

“We don’t show plate discipline,” Mackanin lamented. “We’re taking fastballs early in the count that are hittable pitches. If you’re going to take fastballs early in the count that are hittable pitches, you cannot swing at breaking balls in the dirt. That’s all I can say about that. We have to have more plate discipline.”

On the positive side of that, Franco and Rupp both walked three times, and Franco’s two-out walk in the eighth became the biggest run of the game on a night when Jeremy Hellickson and his status with the Phillies was the biggest storyline.

Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Marlins 0

Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Marlins 0

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — Jeremy Hellickson continued to enhance his trade value and Tommy Joseph had the big hit in the Phillies’ 4-0 win over the Miami Marlins on Monday night.

Hellickson shut down the Marlins for the second time in a week. The next time he pitches, it could be for them. The Marlins are one of the teams interested in the veteran right-hander. Scouts from several other contending teams were in attendance for Hellickson’s strong outing.

Joseph’s two-out double in the top of the eighth broke a scoreless tie.

Phillies pitching held the Marlins to two hits. The Phils have 11 shutouts this season.

Starting pitching report
Hellickson pitched six scoreless innings and gave up just a hit and a walk while striking out one. He exited for a pinch-hitter after just 70 pitches. The right-hander has pitched 14 innings and allowed just one run in his last two starts, both against the Marlins. He has lowered his season ERA to 3.65.

Miami’s Jarred Cosart came up from Triple A and pitched five scoreless innings. However, he threw 92 pitches. He allowed three hits, a walk and struck out one.

Bullpen report 
Trade candidate David Hernandez pitched a strong seventh inning for the Phils, picking up the win. Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez closed it out.

Miami right-hander Kyle Barraclough came up big in the top of the seventh inning. He struck out Cody Asche, Peter Bourjos and pinch-hitter Ryan Howard with runners on second and third to preserve a 0-0 tie.

Marlins right-hander Fernando Rodney struck out the first two batters in the eighth then gave up a four-pitch walk to Maikel Franco before Joseph’s two-out double delivered the game’s first run.

Rodney took the loss.

A.J. Ramos was charged with three runs in the ninth, two unearned.

At the plate
The Phillies survived 13 strikeouts, a 1-for-9 performance with runners in scoring position and 11 men left on base to score the win.

The Phils had just six hits. Joseph had a pair of them and now has 25 RBIs in 54 games.

Cesar Hernandez gave the Phils some cushion with an RBI single in the top of the ninth. Miami’s defense fell apart after that and the Phils scored two more runs to put the game away.

Asche had a hit to break an 0-for-26 skid. Bourjos is 0 for his last 17.

Trade talk
Andres Blanco is out for six weeks so he’s no longer a trade candidate, but others are (see story).

Up next
Jerad Eickhoff (6-11, 3.98) pitches against Miami right-hander Tom Koehler (7-8, 4.42) on Tuesday night. Koehler pitched eight innings of two-run ball in beating the Phillies last week at Citizens Bank Park.

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

Two people with knowledge of the situation tell The Associated Press that the Miami Heat have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent guard Dion Waiters.

The two sides came to agreement on Monday. Waiters will make $2.9 million. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

Waiters averaged 9.8 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, but had several big games in the playoffs. He played particularly well against Dallas and San Antonio in the playoffs before his role was reduced in the seven-game loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

Waiters will give the Heat another scorer off the bench (see full story).

Blazers: C.J. McCullom inked to four-year extension
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A person familiar with the deal confirms that guard CJ McCollum has agreed to a four-year, $106 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday because the deal hadn't been formally announced by the team. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

McCollum, who was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Blazers during the regular season. He raised his scoring average by more than 14 points over the previous season.

As the 10th overall pick for the Blazers in the 2013 draft, McCollum bided his time on the bench for his first two seasons. He became a starter in the backcourt with Damian Lillard last season after four of the team's starters departed in the offseason (see full story).

Michael Jordan donates $2 million to ease racial tensions
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan is trying to help ease tension between African-Americans and law enforcement.

The NBA great and Charlotte Hornets owner said Monday he's giving $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The aim is to help build trust following several shootings around the country.

Jordan says in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that "as a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers," (see full story).