Flyers Extras: Simmonds Concussion and Aftermath, Possible Trade Targets, & More

Flyers Extras: Simmonds Concussion and Aftermath, Possible Trade Targets, & More

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Washington Capitals defenseman John
Erskine was suspended three games on Saturday for throwing an illegal flying
elbow to the face of Wayne Simmonds one night earlier. Unfortunately, the
Orange & Black will probably wind up getting the worse end of the deal.
Shortly after the NHL came down on Erskine, Flyers general manager Paul
Holmgren revealed Simmonds is out of action indefinitely from a concussion
sustained as a result of the hit.

According to reports, Simmonds also
experienced whiplash.
Thankfully the winger’s noggin didn’t hit the ice, or
perhaps the whole ordeal could have been worse. Then again, we always have to
wait and see about the full extent of head and neck injuries. Officially there
is no timetable for Simmonds’ return, but he was not practicing as of Monday morning. [CSN]

The end result tends to make the
punishment handed down to Erskine seem a tad arbitrary. The Capitals lose their
man for three games – none of which are against the Flyers – yet who knows when
Simmonds can return. Erskine got off somewhat easier with the league’s
department of player safety thanks to a squeaky clean record, and head
disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan’s explanation of the incident holds up well
enough [via Puck Daddy].

Washington assistant coach and NHL
Hall of Famer Adam Oates shared something of a debatable position on the
subject though. Defending a 10-year veteran for playing the game, fine; calling
it “simultaneous contact” when one guy clearly hit another is over-the-top
defensive. Comments made before the suspension was handed down to the
Washington Post:

“I think
it’s really tough, because you’ve got two guys going for the puck
simultaneously and two big boys and it looked like simultaneous contact to me.
And he’s a clean player, so we’ll see.”

DEADLINE IS ONLY TWO MONTHS AWAY

It’s never too early – and I mean
never, Sam Carchidi – to start targeting players who might make the Flyers
better. 48-game season, 82 games, doesn’t matter. If a player is even so much
as rumored to be rumored-to-be on the trading block soon, we demand a full
investigation into the plausibility!

In Sunday’s edition of The Inquirer,
Carchidi looked at eight players Homer might be making calls about,
specifically names that could help spark an offense that is still tied for 25th
in the NHL even after this weekend’s five-goal outburst versus the Carolina
Hurricanes. Interestingly enough, the list includes three-time All Star Corey
Perry of the Anaheim Ducks, but only mentions Cherry Hill native Bobby Ryan as
an afterthought [Inq].

Extra attention is already being
paid to a pair of forwards who were on Carchidi’s mind. First, colleague Frank
Seravalli makes a note in Monday’s Daily News that long-time Florida center
Stephen Weiss could be in the Flyers’ plans, based on a visit director of
player personnel Don Luce had at a Panthers-Sabres game over the weekend.
Seravalli describes Weiss as a consistent 60-point scorer who would serve as a
one-year rental, and one that wouldn’t require the front office to make any
additional moves to accommodate his $3.1M cap figure, either. [DN]

Our own Tim Panaccio suggested
even-longer-time Calgary Flame Jarome Iginla could be the right fit in
Philadelphia. The 35 year old is off to a slow start for the even
slower-staring Flame – four points and zero goals scored – but he has yet to
light the lamp fewer than 28 times in a season since 98-99. Given Iginla's
advanced age, Panotch speculates the six-time All Star could be available with
first-round Scott Laughton as the key piece of the deal. Hm… worth discussing at least, no? [CSN]

DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE!

Is there a person on the roster
Flyers fans dread seeing in the lineup more right now than Andreas Lilja? The
37-year-old defenseman has only appeared in one game so far this season, but it
was a doozy. Broad Street Hockey led with the relatively tame “rough night” to
describe Lilja’s efforts in last Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers
while providing a shift-by-shift breakdown of the performance. All told it was
less than 10 minutes of ice time, but Lilja clearly did more harm than good,
including a costly turnover in Philly’s zone that led to a goal – on his very
first shift no less [BSH].

BSH’s breakdown is a few days old of
course, and the fact that Lilja is a liability shouldn’t exactly qualify as
news. It is curious however what Lilja was doing out there for Kurtis Foster in
the first place. We can only hope it’s a mistake the Flyers won’t be forced to
endure again, especially after Foster scored a power-play goal and was credited
with an assist over the weekend.

We also bring it up now because
Seravalli believes reinforcements could be on the way for Philadelphia’s
defense. Blueliner Erik Gustafsson has returned to the Adirondack Phantoms
after an ankle injury, and the Daily News beat believes he could be back on the
big club before long.
Gustafsson was headed for the AHL All Star game before he
was knocked out, and Seravalli suggests he would have beaten out Foster or
Bruno Gervais or even both of them for a roster spot had he been healthy
for training camp. [DN]

Report: P.J. Carlesimo won't join Sixers' coaching staff

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Report: P.J. Carlesimo won't join Sixers' coaching staff

It doesn't sound like the Sixers' replacement for Mike D'Antoni will be the most rumored name for the position.

NBA coaching veteran P.J. Carlesimo has decided to not join Brett Brown's staff as associate head coach and instead will remain a television analyst, according to tweets Sunday night by ESPN's Mark Stein.

Stein added that despite "strong mutual interest," Carlesimo made the decision for family reasons.

The 67-year-old Carlesimo has spent parts of nine seasons as a head coach in the league and five more as an assistant. He was last on a NBA bench when he took over as the Brooklyn Nets' interim head coach in 2012-13.

So the Sixers still have a vacancy on their bench after D'Antoni, who joined the Sixers in the middle of last season after Jerry Colangelo joined the organization, signed on to become head coach of the Houston Rockets last week. Who the team's next choice for the role is remains to be seen.

Stanley Cup Final: Long roads culminate for both Sharks and Penguins

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Stanley Cup Final: Long roads culminate for both Sharks and Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- It wasn't supposed to take the San Jose Sharks this long to reach their first Stanley Cup Final. It wasn't supposed to take this long for Sidney Crosby to guide the Pittsburgh Penguins back to a destination many figured they'd become a fixture at after winning it all in 2009.

Not that either side is complaining.

Certainly not the Sharks, whose nearly quarter-century wait to play on the NHL's biggest stage will finally end Monday night when the puck drops for Game 1. Certainly not Crosby, who raised the Cup after beating Detroit seven years ago but has spent a significant portion of the interim dealing with concussions that threatened to derail his career and fending off criticism as the thoughtful captain of a team whose explosiveness during the regular season too often failed to translate into regular mid-June parade through the heart of the city.

Maybe the Penguins should have returned to the Cup Final before now. The fact they didn't makes the bumpy path the franchise and its superstar captain took to get here seem worth it.

"I think I appreciated it prior to going through some of those things," Crosby said. "I think now having gone through those things I definitely appreciate it more. I think I realize how tough it is to get to this point."

It's a sentiment not lost on the Sharks, who became one of the NHL's most consistent winners shortly after coming into the league in 1991. Yet spring after spring, optimism would morph into disappointment. The nadir came in 2014, when a 3-0 lead over Los Angeles in the first round somehow turned into a 4-3 loss. The collapse sent the Sharks into a spiral that took a full year to recover from, one that in some ways sowed the seeds for a breakthrough more than two decades in the making.

General manager Doug Wilson tweaked the roster around fixtures Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, who remained hopeful San Jose's window for success hadn't shut completely even as the postseason meltdowns piled up.

"I always believed that next year was going to be the year, I really did," Thornton said. "I always thought we were a couple pieces away. Even last year not making the playoffs, I honestly thought we were a couple pieces away, and here we are."

The Penguins, like the Sharks, are a study in near instant alchemy. General manager Jim Rutherford rebuilt the team on the fly after taking over in June, 2014 and with the team sleepwalking last December, fired respected-but-hardly-charismatic Mike Johnston and replaced him with the decidedly harder-edged Mike Sullivan. The results were nearly instantaneous.

Freed to play to its strengths instead of guarding against its weaknesses, Pittsburgh rocketed through the second half of the season and showed the resilience it has sometimes lacked during Crosby's tenure by rallying from a 3-2 deficit against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals, dominating Games 6 and 7 to finally earn a shot at bookending the Cup that was supposed to give birth to a dynasty but instead led to years of frustration.

True catharsis for one side is four wins away. Some things to look for over the next two weeks of what promises to be an entertaining final.

Fresh faces
When the season began, Matt Murray was in the minor leagues. Now the 22-year-old who was supposed to be Pittsburgh's goalie of the future is now very much the goalie of the present. Pressed into action when veteran Marc-Andre Fleury suffered a concussion on March 31, Murray held onto the job even after Fleury returned by playing with the steady hand of a guy in his 10th postseason, not his first. San Jose counterpart Martin Jones served as Jonathan Quick's backup when the Kings won it all in 2014 and has thrived while playing behind a defense that sometimes doesn't give him much to do. Jones has faced over 30 shots just four times during the playoffs.

"HBK" is H-O-T:
Pittsburgh's best line during the playoffs isn't the one centered by Crosby or Malkin but Nick Bonino, who has teamed with Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin to produce 17 goals and 28 assists in 18 games. Put together when Malkin missed six weeks with an elbow injury, the trio has given the Penguins the balance they desperately needed after years of being too reliant on their stars for production.

Powerful Sharks
San Jose's brilliant run to the Finals has been spearheaded by a power play that is converting on 27 percent (17 of 63) of its chances during the playoffs. The Sharks are 9-2 when they score with the man advantage and just 3-4 when it does not.

Old men and the C(up)
Both teams have relied heavily on players who began their NHL careers in another millennium. Pittsburgh center Matt Cullen, who turns 40 in November, has four goals during the playoffs. Thornton and Marleau, both 36, were taken with the top two picks in the 1997 draft that was held in Pittsburgh while 37-year-old Dainius Zubrus draws stares from younger teammates when he tells them he used to play against Hall of Famer (and current Penguins owner) Mario Lemieux.

"When I say 'Twenty years ago I was playing against Lemieux, they say 'I was 2-years-old,'" Zubrus said.

NBA Notes: Grizzlies hire Heat assistant David Fizdale as head coach

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NBA Notes: Grizzlies hire Heat assistant David Fizdale as head coach

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Grizzlies have hired David Fizdale as their new coach and will introduce him in Memphis at a news conference Tuesday.

Memphis announced the move Sunday. The hiring was first reported Thursday by The Associated Press and others. The Grizzlies did not disclose terms, but Yahoo! Sports reported Fizdale agreed to a four-year contract.

General manager Chris Wallace said in a statement that the Grizzlies are confident Fizdale is the right person to help Memphis build on its success.

Fizdale has spent the past eight years with the Miami Heat, the past two as assistant head coach to Erik Spoelstra.

The new Grizzlies coach says he feels fortunate to have worked with some of the NBA's greatest coaches and players and believes he's ready for the challenge of being a head coach (see full story).

Antetokounmpo brothers combine for 133 points in charity game vs. Porzingis
ATHENS, Greece -- NBA stars Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks battled it out in Athens in a game of streetball Sunday, watched by a crowd of 5,000.

Played in an open court in Greece's largest public high school, the "Antetokounbros Streetball Event" ended 123-123. No overtime was played.

Porzingis scored 21 points but was overshadowed by team member Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Giannis' older brother, who scored 69. The two had played for a few games together last season, when Thanasis was signed by the Knicks on a 10-day contract. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the other team with 64 points. The other players were a mixture of veteran pros and amateurs.

On Saturday, Porzingis and the Antetonkoumpo brothers were given a private tour of the Acropolis Museum (see full story).