Chris Pronger Reacts to Flyers Blockbusters, Likes Fishing

Chris Pronger Reacts to Flyers Blockbusters, Likes Fishing

We polled you earlier on whether you thought the Flyers were closer to winning a Stanley Cup after Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were traded away and Ilya Bryzgalov was locked up long-term. During his conference call this afternoon, Chris Pronger was asked the same question.

Is the team closer to winning a Cup now?
 
“I don’t know.  I haven’t really thought about that too much.  I just heard about the trades last night so I haven’t really put a whole lot of thought to it, I’m up in the bush with my kids, fishing.  I haven’t put the Xs and Os together – I’m sure you guys have looked at it seven ways from Sunday and tried to figure out who wins or loses.  At the end of the day, as I said before, having been traded a number of times, it’s always difficult.  They both played their hearts out in Philly, but sometimes as I said, you’ve got to make tough decisions and you’ve got to make moves, and sometimes it may hurt and may feel like you’re making your team worse to make it better," Pronger said. [full transcript below]

What was your reaction to yesterday’s events? 

“I think when you make a move like that to get a goalie and you’ve got to pay him, you’ve got to get the money somewhere.  Time and again in the salary cap era, you’ve got to give to get.  Unfortunately for us, those two guys were traded.  It sucks as a teammate.  You hate to see guys go.  They were for all intents and purposes the face of the franchise for four of those six years, if not for the six years they were here.  I’m sure it’s tough for them.  The Philadelphia Flyers, it’s all they really know.  I’ve gone through it a number of times, and sometimes a move is healthy for you.” 

Were you able to reach out to Jeff or Mike? 

“I’m going to give them a call today.  Having gone through it a number of times, you kind of need a day to gather your thoughts and kind of get your wits about you.  It’s certainly not an easy thing.  I think it makes it a little bit easier that they’re both single and don’t have to lug around kids and logistically and that stuff, but it’s still very tough to be traded and I’m sure both of them have mixed emotions.” 

Is the team closer to winning a Cup now? 

 “I don’t know.  I haven’t really thought about that too much.  I just heard about the trades last night so I haven’t really put a whole lot of thought to it, I’m up in the bush with my kids, fishing.  I haven’t put the Xs and Os together – I’m sure you guys have looked at it seven ways from Sunday and tried to figure out who wins or loses.  At the end of the day, as I said before, having been traded a number of times, it’s always difficult.  They both played their hearts out in Philly, but sometimes as I said, you’ve got to make tough decisions and you’ve got to make moves, and sometimes it may hurt and may feel like you’re making your team worse to make it better.”  

Does this team have a better locker room today? 

“I don’t know.  I don’t really know those other guys they brought in.  I played against Wayne Simmonds for one or two years when I was in Anaheim, but other than that, when you play on the East Coast, you don’t really play the West very often, and vice-versa.  When I was coming out here I didn’t really know many of the guys here, because I’d played in the West pretty much my whole career.  I can’t really speak to that right now, having no luxury to know any of the three guys we picked up.” 

Did you think there was a problem in the room? 

 “I don’t think anybody would say a year ago when we went to the Stanley Cup Final that there was a chemistry problem.  [That year] I think our play was very inconsistent, and we were trying to find ourselves as a team with a new coach and a new system.  I think the players were trying to find where they needed to be and how we needed to play to be successful as a group.  Last year, you’re coming off a tough defeat in the Stanley Cup Final in overtime, we got off to a good start, and nobody seemed to think we had a problem then.  As the season wore on, for whatever reason, we just didn’t turn that corner and continue to get better and peak at the right time.  That’s disappointing, and it’s tough.  I don’t think there was necessarily a rift, I think we just needed more life in the locker room.  It all has to do with your play on the ice.  If you’re playing well on the ice, there’s never any questions as to who’s doing what or is there a rift, does this guy like that guy, and all of the rest of the stuff that gets thrown out.  If you play well on the ice, nobody wants to write about that because everything’s going good.” 

Do you want to be the captain? 

 “You know what, I haven’t put much thought in it to be honest with you.  This is all very, very fresh to a lot of us.  Obviously I’d have to talk to Homer and Lavi and see what their thoughts are, and kind of go from there.  You don’t nominate yourself.  I’ve never been part of a team where somebody nominates himself.  I think that may be a little bit premature to start talking about stuff like that.  It’s one day after two huge trades on our team and in the history of the Flyers, so I don’t think that’s in anybody’s minds right now.”

Tranquillo Barnetta will not return to Union next season

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Tranquillo Barnetta will not return to Union next season

Tranquillo Barnetta is going home.

In an abrupt announcement on Tuesday, the Union declared that the skillful Swiss attacking midfielder will not renew his contract with the club and will return to Switzerland following the 2016 season to play for his hometown club, FC St. Gallen.

According to MLS Players Union, Barnetta’s exit will free the Union of $687,500 next season.

“The entire soccer community here was so welcoming and I’m so thankful to everyone at Philadelphia Union for making me feel so appreciated,” Barnetta said. “Playing in front of my friends and family and making plans for life at the end of my career where I want to live is a force I can’t resist.”

Although the timing of the announcement is a surprise, the move isn’t one. With Alejandro Bedoya now in the mix, currently playing out of position in a box-to-box midfield role, the Union will replace Barnetta with Bedoya at the center attacking midfield spot. It’s a position that Bedoya is comfortable in, playing there with his previous club, FC Nantes.

Bedoya played for the injured Barnetta in the center midfield spot last Saturday and scored his first goal of the season in a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC.

But even with Bedoya ready to take over, the Union will miss Barnetta. Since joining the Union in 2015, Barnetta, 31, has been one of the better possession playmakers in MLS, scoring six goals and seven assists in 37 games.

“Tranquillo has been a key piece in what we’re trying to build here in Philadelphia but we appreciate his decision to return to Switzerland,” said Union sporting director Earnie Stewart, whose club has three matches left in the 2016 season, and will likely make the playoffs. “We look forward to continuing to push for the postseason.”

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

The Eagles are 3-0. They’re alone atop the NFC East and have been the biggest surprise of the young NFL season.

Doug Pederson’s message to his team: You haven’t done anything yet.

Although the Eagles are riding high, Pederson doesn’t want his team to change its outlook or hard work. That’s what teams have to worry about once they’ve found some success.

“The biggest thing is complacency,” Pederson said Monday. “You think you've arrived. You think you are all that. When that creeps in, that's when you get beat. It's my job not to let that creep in. I've got to keep the guys focused and grounded. I told them this week they're going to travel and go home and people are going to pat them on the back and say how great they are.

“But next Monday, I'm going to tell them, ‘Hey, we're back to work. We're 0-0. This is Game 1 and let's go.’ That's just the way it has to be. You are building for one ultimate goal and that's a few weeks down the road. That's what you are trying to get to. But you can't get there unless you take care of the next opponent. It's my job to keep them focused that way.”

Being 3-0 (they’re one of five 3-0 teams) gives the Eagles a head start, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee them a playoff spot. This is the ninth 3-0 start in franchise history. They’ve made the playoffs just five times in the previous eight. And they recently missed the playoffs after starting 3-0 in 2014 under Chip Kelly.

In NFL history (before this season), there have been 276 teams to start with 3-0 records. Of them, 200 (72.3 percent) have made the playoffs.

“We just have to approach it the same, one day at a time,” Pederson said. “That's the way this business goes. You are on top of the world one minute, and you can be at the bottom of the heap the next. Just got to keep things even-keeled and can't get too high, can't get too low. Approach it the same. Like I mentioned earlier, you can't substitute for hard work. That pays off on Sundays. We just have to stay the course. Again, a lot of football left.”

While the Week 4 bye comes pretty early, the Eagles have a couple key players who will use the time to get healthy. And Connor Barwin pointed out that the bye is coming about closer to the halfway point between when the team started its tough training camp and the end of the season.

Pederson told his players to use the week to get away from football and free their minds. Meanwhile, Pederson and his coaches will use the extra time to self-scout and prepare for the final 13 games of the regular season.

With a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback who was thrust into action a week before the opener, expectations outside (and perhaps inside) the building were tempered.

The Eagles aren’t an underdog anymore.

“We kind of enjoyed flying under the radar, but obviously a win like this against a team like the Steelers will open some eyes around the league,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “For us, nothing different. We’ll keep our preparation the same. We’ll stick our heads down and focus on the work day to day and understand what’s gotten us to 3-0.”

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