Fan poll in favor of firing Paul Holmgren ‘doesn’t mean anything’ to Flyers

Fan poll in favor of firing Paul Holmgren ‘doesn’t mean anything’ to Flyers

Do you think Paul Holmgren should be relieved of his duties as general manager of the Flyers? Do ya? Well, guess what—the Flyers don’t care. According to Peter Luukko, president of Comcast-Spectacor, that is the organization’s official opinion of a Philly.com poll where nearly 93 percent of the 4,400 respondents voted yes for Holmgren’s dismissal.

Luukko was pressed about the poll results by Flyers beat writer Sam Carchidi as part of a story on Holmgren’s job status in Sunday’s edition of the Inquirer. It would seem the front office isn’t placing much stock in public opinion these days based on this statement.

"When things aren't going well, the timing of the poll is what directly relates to the answers," Luukko said the other day. "To us, it doesn't mean anything."

There’s no doubt the timing directly relates to the answers. The timing is the Flyers are off to a 1-7-0 start after missing the playoffs last season. And let’s be real, the Flyers can’t make decisions about the general manager based purely on the whim of the fans.

Perhaps it’s only the choice of words that was poor. Admitting the opinion of the fans “doesn’t mean anything” when the team is 1-7 and hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in going on 39 years might not be the best answer to appease paying customers who are becoming increasingly disenfranchised with the moves in recent years—and more importantly, the results.

Regardless, the organization is adamant about sticking with Holmgren, but you have to wonder for how much longer with a recent resume that reads like this (per Carchidi):

Holmgren is the one who gave the crazy contract to Ilya Bryzgalov (nine years, $51 million). The Flyers ate the final seven years of the deal, costing the franchise $23 million.

Holmgren is the one who traded away last season's Vezina-winning goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky - though, from here, more blame has to go to Laviolette for the way he lost confidence in him in the 2011 playoffs, causing a panic signing of Bryzgalov.

Holmgren is the one who has assembled an offensively inept team, while traded-away players such as Jeff Carter, Joffrey Lupul, James van Riemsdyk, and Mike Richards are flourishing around the league. And he's the one whose slow, aging defense is the highest-paid in the NHL, thanks to some extremely questionable contracts he handed out. (See Kimmo Timonen's $6 million extension.)

A few weeks back, team owner Ed Snider bristled at the idea the franchise needs to change their philosophy. Maybe they could just overhaul the public relations department for starters?

>> Slumping Flyers put Holmgren on hot seat [Inq]

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."