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.

Robert Covington, Sixers show 'swagger' without Joel Embiid in comeback win

Robert Covington, Sixers show 'swagger' without Joel Embiid in comeback win

BOX SCORE

The Sixers began the season looking lost without Joel Embiid. Now they are finding ways to win when he is not on the court. 

Embiid suffered a left knee contusion in the second half of Friday’s 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers (see story). He was sidelined for the decisive 8:50 of the game (see Instant Replay).

The Sixers trailed, 81-78, when he subbed out for the second time because of the injury, and outscored the Trail Blazers, 15-11, from that point on.

So how was this team that battled with inconsistency and reliance on Embiid able to pull out a comeback win punctuated in the final seconds? Ask the Sixers and they’ll give varying answers, a sign they are getting the job done in multiple ways and aren’t relying on just one key to success.

The most glaring difference was the hero of the game. Robert Covington drained two three-pointers in the final 40 seconds. His trey from Dario Saric with 38.2 remaining cut the Trail Blazers' lead to just one, 91-90. With 4.5 to go, he nailed the game-winning three from T.J. McConnell to give the Sixers their eighth victory in 10 games (see feature highlight).

“That’s resilient Cov,” Nerlens Noel said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a good shot or a bad shot; he’ll pull it in your face. That’s the confidence he has and that’s the confidence we need him to have. He steps up and makes two big shots like that, that’s enough said. He won us that game.”

Critics have called out Covington’s up-and-down performance from three all season. (They’ve made their feelings known with loud boos at home games.) Covington shot 5 for 12 behind the arc on the night but his 2 for 3 performance in the fourth was what mattered most. 

“I am a fighter, that’s what I have been my whole life,” he said. “Just because fans are booing me at one point doesn't mean anything. I just keep working. I am not going to let that deteriorate my game. It goes in one ear and out the other.”

Without Embiid in the game, the Sixers had to rely on a total team effort. After he went to the bench, the final points were scored by a combination of Covington, Gerald Henderson, Noel, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and McConnell.

“Ball movement,” head coach Brett Brown said. “We had 25 assists out of 36 made baskets. It’s not like we’re going to give the ball to Damian Lillard (guard for the Blazers). That’s not who we are. Whatever we do, it has to be done by committee, by a group, by a team. It’s even more exposed when Joel isn’t in the game. They did that. Unlikely people ended up with the ball sometimes in unlikely spots. … You have to move the ball. That’s what the team has learned without Joel.” 

Several of the players on the court in critical moments were from the second unit. Since Brown locked in on his rotation, the reserves don’t have a drop-off in confidence from the starters. 

“It’s the mentality,” Covington said. “Everybody has that swagger about us right now because once Joel comes out, the next person steps in and fills that void. It’s a matter of that contagious feeling that trickles into the second unit that’s making us that much more valuable.”

Then there's always defense, the foundation of any solid NBA team and a focal point for the Sixers. Noel saw that as the difference-maker when subbing in and out. The Trail Blazers scored just two points in the final 1:56. 

"The second unit goes there and does a great job guarding the yard, not letting up easy baskets," Noel said. "The offensive side is fluid motion. Guys get shots, pick-and-roll, it opens up open threes for guys, driving lines, pump fakes, it’s a great unity."

Embiid liked what he saw from a distance. He will not travel with the team to their game on Saturday against the Hawks in Atlanta. 

"I’m just happy we’ve been closing out games, and the main thing I’m really happy [about] is they’ve been able to do it without me," he said. "That’s going to give us a lot of confidence when I’m missing back-to-backs. My teammates are going to have more confidence to come in and play the same way."

Joel Embiid feels 'great' after injury scare to left knee

Joel Embiid feels 'great' after injury scare to left knee

Of the nearly 20,000 people in the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night, Joel Embiid was seemingly the least concerned when he came down and injured his left knee. 

Fans held their breath and the Sixers looked on anxiously as the standout big man got up in visible discomfort and limped off the court (see highlights). Embiid, however, wasn’t worried. 

“I knew it was OK. I just landed the wrong way,” he said after the Sixers' 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers (see Instant Replay). “I’m great. The knee’s fine. They did an MRI and stuff, everything looked good.”

Embiid ran off the court on his own, was diagnosed with a left knee contusion and was cleared to return to the game. He aggravated his knee again driving to the basket and this time, the team held him out to be careful.

“The review is that he hyperextended his left knee,” head coach Brett Brown said. “There was a minor tweak again, and for precautionary reasons only, the doctors did not allow him to return. There will be more information given as we know it. But quickly, that's what we know.”

Embiid understood the team’s decision to sideline him for the final 8:50 while the Sixers went on a comeback run (see feature highlight). He still finished the game with an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double, five assists and four blocks in only 22 minutes.

“Obviously those guys, the front office, they care about my future, so they just shut it down,” Embiid said. “But I was fine.”

Embiid will not travel to Atlanta for Saturday’s game against the Hawks (pre-scheduled rest). He expects to be available for Tuesday’s home matchup against the Clippers. 

"You know how tough he is," Nerlens Noel said. "If it isn’t anything serious, he’ll be right back. At the end of the game, he was telling me was he was feeling great and there was no pain. He wanted to come back in the game … he’s a trooper. He always gives it his all and always plays hard."

Injuries to any player are worrisome, especially a franchise centerpiece with two years of rehab (foot) behind him. The Sixers have been methodical and cautious with his playing time. Embiid is on a 28-minute restriction and can play in only one game of a back-to-back series. 

The same player who is so closely watched, though, also plays with sky-high energy that doesn’t have a brake pedal. 

“You're concerned,” Brown said of seeing Embiid get injured. “It's clear to all of us that he plays with such reckless abandon. I think that we're all going to be seeing this and feeling this regularly. From flying into stands to stalking somebody in the open court to block a shot to the collision he often is in trying to draw fouls. That's just who he is. 

“I think that as he just plays more basketball and continues to grow, to not necessarily avoid those situations, just to perhaps manage them a little bit more. Right now, he's just a young guy that's just playing that doesn't know what he doesn't know and has a fearless approach underneath all that attitude.”

Fearless is an accurate description considering Embiid's trouble-free reaction to the awkward way his leg bent (he hadn’t seen a replay). 

“I kind of had that in college, too,” he said. “I think I’m flexible, so it’s supposed to happen.”