Broken Twigs: Lecavalier and Giroux, Flyers Bachelorette and FGSB Mailbag

Broken Twigs: Lecavalier and Giroux, Flyers Bachelorette and FGSB Mailbag

Paul Holmgren stands up, fastens the top button of the sports coat he’s wearing over a short-sleeved golf shirt, pauses a moment, and then:

I can show you the world, shining, shimmering, splendid, tell me, princess, now when did you last let your heart decide?
I can open your eyes, take you wonder by wonder, over, sideways and under, on a magic..

“Paul,” Ed Snider interjects, leaning back from the conference room table and resting his cocky smirk on his thumb and pointer finger, “I think we have a deal.”

- - - - -

I am most definitely over-thinking this, but there is something nagging me. 3 words as a matter of fact: let’s just say.

Picture a scene from a TV show. Or a movie. Anything. Hell, real life even. Picture someone saying “let’s just say” and looking all smarmy and superior. There is so much underlying arrogance in those three words. “Let’s just say” is how dudes used to troll other dudes during the Renaissance. Let’s just say, the canvas wasn’t the only thing Mona Lisa let me paint….

Interest is created where there previously was none. Let's just say is the cousin of the humble brag:

“I really don’t want to get into that, but let’s just say Philly, with the meeting that I had with them, that’s the place I really wanted to go,” Lecavalier said. “I gotta tell you, right after I talked with Philly, even before any offers or anything, they went right to the top of the list. I just liked what they were saying.”

When have you ever heard of an athlete in any sport admit to deciding his future not based on contract terms, not based on what’s best for his family, but solely based on a single meeting with executives that he doesn’t know all that well. What could 3 men with a combined age of 275 have said to this 33 year old star Stanley Cup Champion/Gold Medalist/Mr. L’Oreal Sublime Glow for the Body 2011 that made him so eager to be a Flyer?

Believe you me, I’ve been up nights thinking about this one. Did they promise him he’d be GM in 2017? Did they show him a DVD of people taking pictures with Bernie Parent and Bob Kelley at Gate D of the WFC and say “this could all be yours?” Is The Declaration of Independence involved? Is Nicolas Cage involved? Both?

The only thing that I can think of that the Flyers have and other teams don’t, the only promise that the Flyers could make that no other team can, is Claude Giroux. But I don’t think Flyers Management promised Vinny that he would be on Claude Giroux’s line. Everyone in that room knows better than that. They know that line combinations in the NHL can change faster than a 15 year old’s relationship status . I think what they promised Vincent Lecavalier, or more likely asked of him, was to be Claude Giroux’s mentor.

Vinny Lecavalier is 33. When you get to that age as a player you start to think about your legacy. Even if retirement is 5 years down the road you can clearly see that the spotlight is shifting off of you and onto the younger kids with all their kooky electronic gadgets and Tumblrs. So what is left to be done if you’ve won everything? Why train when you could be sitting on the beach (which Vincent Lecavalier is obviously a fan of) reflecting on all of your accomplishments? Why travel for 6 months of the year when you could be home with your family collecting millions? A big part of that is personal drive and habit, obviously not wanting to let go of something that is so familiar and great when you can still do it well, but adding in a mentor role can really serve to stoke a fire that may have died a little when Tampa Bay Management came into the room with their bucket of water.

By mentoring Claude Giroux you take on two roles, you have two reasons to get up at 5AM and jump up onto a box 500 times. The primary reason, it will always come first, is for your own benefit, obviously. But when that's just not getting it done and you think you can cut a corner you remember that you are an example, that even thought Claude Giroux is actually leading this team, you are leading Claude Giroux. And in that way you become bigger than yourself, you can become immortal.

Vinny had this in Tampa, and he shared the responsibility with Martin St. Louis. Over the past 3 NHL seasons, the top scorers in their 20's reads like this:

Steven Stamkos - 245 pts
Claude Giroux - 216 pts
Alex OV - 206 pts
Eric Staal - 199 pts
Phil Kessel - 212 pts
John Tavares - 209 pts
Patrick Kane - 202 pts
Corey Perry - 206 pts
Anze Kopitar - 204 pts
Ryan Getzlaf - 193 pts

Obviously Crosby and Malkin would be on this list if it weren't for injuries, but the Penguins were never an option due to the fact that Ray Shero keeps handing out 8 year $60M contracts to anyone that will talk to him.

With Vinny not wanting to go to the Western Conference, and Claude Giroux being the youngest, most french-speaking, and possibly (time will tell) gifted player on that list, why wouldn't he want to come to Philadelphia and serve as the engine to Captain Giroux? Maybe he could accomplish something great again along the way?

And now your questions…

From @GBHeights: With Briere gone, if the Flyers were on The Bachelorette who would make overnight dates and who would get the final rose?
I’m glad Briere is gone. He wasn’t here for All the Right Reasons (tm). If I’m just going off Bachelorette logic, and not any specific contestant, it goes like this:

  • Hartnell (too goofy), Timonen (too old), Grossmann (too bald), Voracek (too gross), Adam Hall (blends in with the wallpaper), Luke Schenn (looks chubby next to his brother), Meszaros (crutches don’t work), Gervais and Talbot (too into each other), Gus (unaware he’s on the show) are all gone the first night.
  • Simmonds and Emery have to make to the second week, and second week only, because that’s always when the Bachelorette feels like she’s proven to America that she’s not raycess and can safely send the black guys home.
  • In week 3 Mark Streit creeps out from behind a plant and scares the shit out of everyone. No one knew he was there and he gets sent home immediately. In the rose ceremony she sends Steve Mason home because they can’t talk without him bringing up his Calder trophy.
  • Rinaldo, Coburn, and Couturier (who she calls Wolfie) fade away as the weeks pass, and she’s left with 4.
  • Read is right there at the end because his crow-ish good looks and learned brain leave her intrigued, but the final 3 are Lecavalier, B. Schenn, and Captain Jean-Luc Giroux because it all comes down to looks and power, just like real life.
  • In a surprise ending, after banging all the guys on the overnight dates, the Bachelorette breaks down and admits she is in love with the host of the show, Mr. Ed Snider. Snider tosses his wedding ring into the ocean and exults “make it 5!” has he grabs onto a rope ladder that’s dangling from a helicopter, holding the Bachelorette in one arm like Indiana Jones.

Incest from Enrico: what was the first emotion you felt when you saw the photo of the Legion of Doom back together?
Honestly? I had two thoughts in succession – look at those calves and John Leclair needs some new hair. Everyone kept talking about how much weight he put on and all I could think was that he looked like an old, and yes fat, version of the rapper Snow with those little sunglasses and that receding hairline. But then I went back to their calves and was like, damn those are some big calves. And then I looked closer at Renberg and then back to all their calves and thought “that’s a lot of meat.” And then I looked at Ant J. San and thought “how did you get that job and what do you even do?" And then back to the calves. So to answer your question...confused.

From @Mager_Pls: what's your favorite cereal? Thanks, Big Fan
My favorite cereal is Frosted Flakes because I imagine that it’s Scott Harnell’s favorite cereal. Can’t you see him sitting at the huge island in his loft apartment in the Old City, so focused on slurping down a giant bowl of Frosted Flakes that he doesn’t even notice HIS OWN HAIR IS IN THE BOWL! What hijinks! I bet he does fun stuff like eats cereal all the time.

From Kristen: where is the next logical move for the flyers to make this offseason?  what is the actual move they'll make?
Well they have 20 defensemen under NHL contracts and I think you’re only supposed to have like 15. Everyone’s so focused on Coburn/Mesz that I think it’s going to be Grossmann or Schenn, even though the latter would be as heart breaking as the Civil War (the actual war, not the Guns ‘n Roses song). I good rule of thumb with Paul Holmgren seems to be “do the opposite of what everyone else would do” so be ready for anything (for further reading on this topic see The Day Paul Holmgren Traded Away the Entire Team in 2011).

YinzTweet Breakdown of the Week

Even though I want to hate, I actually have to side with @jilldiegsxo’s sentiment here, as much as it really pains me to say someone from Pittsburgh is right about something that is not the best store brand mayonnaise or advice on getting drunk off of windshield wiper fluid. What she’s hipping us too is a twitter handle, @iscrosbyabitch, which I personally don’t see the point of. I don’t really understand where you can go with a trite persona like this. I would expect something this pointless from a Pittsburgh fan but….wait! Maybe it is a Pittsburgh fan posing as a Flyers fan so they can use this against us! Wait again, anyone from Pittsburgh would have run out to play in the dirt mound about half way through such a maniacal thought, so it must be a Flyers fan…. I say shut ‘er down.

Jim Schwartz already gushing about Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod

052316_mcleod_on_dawkins_webbestvideo3_1920x1080_691407939580.jpg

Jim Schwartz already gushing about Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod

Anyone who follows the NFL knows to avoid reading too much into spring workouts. You don't gain valuable insight into a player's game-day ability by observing his speed in shorts or run-stuffing technique when tackles aren't being made.

First-year Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz sidestepped several questions after Tuesday's OTA about how specific players are fitting into his defensive scheme, but he made an exception for one position group in particular: his starting safeties.

The Eagles this offseason spent $35 million apiece to extend Malcolm Jenkins and sign Rodney McLeod away from the Rams. Jenkins got $21 million guaranteed, McLeod got $17 million, and they rank fifth and ninth among NFL safeties, respectively, in annual average salary.

"That was money well spent," Schwartz said Tuesday. "I'm sort of violating my rule of judging too much into this time of year — saying linemen need the pads on before we can judge, rookies let's not judge yet — but both [Jenkins and McLeod] are veteran players. And you can see that right away that both are multi-dimensional. They communicate very well, cover a lot of ground. They can blitz, they can play man (coverage), they can play zone. I'd be very surprised as the year went along if they're not one of the better safety tandems in the NFL. They've been very impressive so far."

Jenkins, who has emerged as the Eagles' most vocal leader, is coming off two terrific seasons. He set career-highs last year in tackles (109) and forced fumbles (three), intercepted two passes and returned one 99 yards for a touchdown. He graded out as the best safety in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. 

McLeod ranked 10th, eight spots ahead of Walter Thurmond, Jenkins' partner last season.

"I think we all believe that," Jenkins said when asked about the safety duo's chances of being one of the NFL's best. "The way that practice has been going so far and just what Rodney adds to the secondary, I think we're real excited about that tandem and what we'll be able to do. Both of us are very versatile, both of us know the defense and can get guys lined up and can problem-solve. All the rest of it we can do, but when you have guys that can quarterback the defense and problem-solve, it gets you out of a lot of bad looks."

Jenkins had watched McLeod on tape so he knew the type of player the Eagles were adding. What stood out most to him was how "violent" McLeod played in St. Louis, how he played much bigger than his 5-10/195-pound frame. But what's impressed Jenkins most in OTAs with McLeod is how he sees the field and reads situations. Those instincts are what Jenkins thinks can make the pairing special.

"Now playing next to him, you really start to see the smarts and his football IQ, knowing different defenses, ways to adjust things, having the ability to use tools for different situations," Jenkins said of McLeod. "He's an extension of a coach on the field. Talk about a guy being able to quarterback your defense on the field, he's somebody who understands the totality of the defense and has that ability to communicate and get guys lined up. It's just good to have two guys back there now that can do that.

"I think from what he brings to the table and what I bring to the table from a football standpoint, I think our talent level can put us in that conversation (of the NFL's top safety tandems). But once we really get in tune with each other as far as calls, tools that we can use ... when you got two guys with high football IQs, you can really be special."

Jenkins and McLeod have been playing left and right safety interchangeably so far in practice. McLeod says that this voluntary workout period for the safeties has been about figuring out which of them does what better. He'll have a better idea of their specific roles once training camp comes.

Jenkins and McLeod were in constant communication on the sidelines after coming off the field for certain plays at Tuesday's practice. Jenkins was doing a lot of the talking and McLeod a lot of the listening. McLeod would explain what he saw and why he broke the way he did, and Jenkins would coach him up and advise him what to do next time they see a certain look. 

"Big competitor, man. Just from Day 1, offseason drills and things like that when we compete, even in the weight room you can just see how he gets after it," McLeod said of Jenkins. "It carries over into the field, big trash talker. He carries a swagger about him. Very smart and instinctive player.

"Me and Malcolm, I think we're gonna build something great here and you can see glimpses of it in practice now."

Tonight's lineup: After benching, Odubel Herrera back in leadoff spot

052416-lunch-break-slide.jpg

Tonight's lineup: After benching, Odubel Herrera back in leadoff spot

It seems like Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has decided pulling Odubel Herrera in the seventh inning of a tied game on Monday is enough punishment for failing to run out a ground ball.

The centerfielder will be back in his customary leadoff spot when the Phillies take on Justin Verlander and the Tigers tonight at Comerica Park (see game notes).

Much of the talk surrounding the Phillies in the last 24 hours has centered on Herrera after Mackanin yanked him from the game Monday (see story). After all, Herrera's .335 batting average leads an offense-starved team that averages just 3.24 runs per game, second-worst in the majors. Before he was pulled on Monday, Herrera was 3 for 4 with an RBI and had a 15-pitch at-bat against starter Mike Pelfrey to start the game.

Tommy Joseph will start again at first base after clobbering his second homer of the season on Monday. Despite another night of immense struggles (see story), Ryan Howard is again in the lineup as the designated hitter in the American League park.

The only change to to the lineup from Monday see Carlos Ruiz starting behind the plate to catch Jeremy Hellickson.

Star outfielder Justin Upton will sit again for Detroit as he nurses a quad injury. Mike Aviles will start in his place in left.

Both teams' lineups can be found below.

Phillies
1. Odubel Herrera CF
2. Freddy Galvis SS
3. Maikel Franco 3B
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Ryan Howard DH
6. Carlos Ruiz C
7. Cesar Hernandez 2B
8. Tyler Goedell LF
9. Peter Bourjos RF

Tigers
1. Ian Kinsler 2B
2. J.D. Martinez RF
3. Miguel Cabrera 1B
4. Victor Martinez RF
5. Nick Castellanos 3B
6. Cameron Maybin CF
7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
8. Mike Aviles LF
9. Jose Iglesias SS 

Sixers reportedly covet additional high first-round pick in 2016

052316_colangelo_sot_webbestvideo3_1920x1080_691483715839.jpg

Sixers reportedly covet additional high first-round pick in 2016

The Philadelphia 76ers haven't found themselves in a position of power much on the hardwood over the past few seasons, but when it comes to the 2016 NBA Draft, the Sixers are in the driver's seat.

As longtime NBA reporter David Aldridge put it in a column on Monday, the Sixers are one of four teams that will "run the show" on draft night. The Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and Phoenix Suns are all poised for a big draft night as well.

Not only do the Sixers have the first gigantic decision of the evening but they have a handful of assets, in the form of additional picks as well as moveable players, to make another big splash on draft night (Thanks, Sam Hinkie).

The first debate in Philly will clearly be Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. Once that decision is made though, things could still be very interesting for Bryan Colangelo.

Aldridge goes on to discuss the logjam in the Sixers frontcourt that Sixers' observers have been talking about forever, but he also adds that, "There is strong support within the organization for Nerlens Noel, who provides defense and rebounding that none of Philly's other bigs provide."

Not only does Aldridge state that there is strong support for Noel, he also says that the team would like to get back up into the early portion of the draft.

Yet the Sixers already have Okafor at the four, and possibly Saric next year. Taking Simmons wouldn't make sense unless they were determined to trade Okafor, whose up and down rookie season hasn't adversely affected his value around the league. And trading Okafor would be the easiest and best way for Philly to get another high first-round pick, which the Sixers covet.

Coveting another high first-round pick and actually obtaining it are clearly different things. Unless the front office finds a way to put a package together involving the 24th or 26th picks this year and some sort of future considerations, the player who can certainly get you back near the front of this year's draft is clearly Jahlil Okafor.

The Sixers fan base is mixed on the idea of trading Jahlil Okafor. Boston seems like an obvious fit with their No. 3 overall pick being the prized target.

June 23rd will be a very interesting night to see how Bryan Colangelo, his father, Josh Harris, and his co-owners feel about such a deal.