Flyers Kick Off West Coast Mini-Swing Tonight in Anaheim

Flyers Kick Off West Coast Mini-Swing Tonight in Anaheim

After having six days off to heal up and, in some cases, become even more mysteriously injured, the Philadelphia Flyers are back at it on consecutive nights, starting in Anaheim and moving quickly to Phoenix. Puck drop for the Flyers and Ducks is scheduled for 10 p.m. this evening.

Returning to the lineup for Orange & Black is one Jaromir Jagr, who missed both of last weekend's games after suffering an undisclosed LBI against the New York Islanders the night before Thanksgiving.

Also back with the team are defenseman Matt Walker and forward Brayden Schenn. Walker cleared waivers earlier today to plug the holes left by the long-term absences of Chris Pronger and Andreas Lilja, while Schenn was recalled earlier this week. Aside from the team's Winter Classic jersey unveiling last month, this will be the first Flyers fans see of Schenn since losing him to both a separated shoulder and fractured foot after only four games in October. Walker, on the other hand, will not be in uniform this evening.

Meanwhile, James van Riemsdyk remains a scratch for the third straight game with an upper body injury. GM Paul Holmgren announced last Friday that the forward will be a scratch for the next week to ten days, meaning JVR could be available when the team returns East to face the Sabres in Buffalo next Wednesday.

As for the home-standing Ducks, tonight will be their first game under new head coach Bruce Boudreau. Boudreau, you may recall, was the guy fired from the head gig in Washington this past Monday only to be picked up just three days later by the struggling-to-tread-water Ducks. Though his style is a marked departure from that of former head coach Randy Carlyle, they do bear an uncanny resemblance, save for the latter's (somewhat in tact) hairline.

Individually, in spite of a whole line of young all-star talents in Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, Anaheim, who sports a record of just 7-13-4 this season and has dropped 13 of its last 15, is still led by long-time right wing Teemu Selanne. With 22 points in 24 games, the 41-year-old Selanne continues to defy nature and climb further up the all-time lists. His 645 goals and 1362 career points are good for 13th and 24th all-time in league history.

In terms of big picture stuff, if you're looking for juicy storylines heading into tonight, there really isn't a whole lot of history between the Ducks and Flyers (I know, because I've seen most of it). That said, this weekend will be an interesting little homecoming for Flyer goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

On consecutive nights, he will face off against the only two other teams he has played for in his NHL career. Bryz actually spent seven years in the Duck organization, bouncing up and down for a few years between Anaheim and Cincinnati before splitting time with Jean-Sebastien Giguere for parts of the team's 2007 Stanley Cup run. He would be dealt to Phoenix the following season after generating a bit of acrimony between himself, the front office and the aforementioned Carlyle. Whatever it is, the guy seems to have something of a checkered history when it comes to leaving one team for another. He's a bad breaker-upper.

Speaking of personal history, no matter how old I get, I still get pumped up for a good Flyer-Duck matchup. As a proud product of the nineties and a big time Kariya-Selanne supporter, I attended many an Anaheim-Philadelphia game with my father while growing up, and may or may not still have an eggplant and jade jersey floating around in my closet.

Though the franchise ultimately won its first Cup in 2007 after coming up short four years prior, it always felt a little hollow as compared to what it could have been when they were still Mighty and had the classic helmet crest on their jerseys. Plus, it would mean one less frigging cup for the Devils.

Old habits die hard, I guess.

Off the floor, on the board. See you post-game.

Matt Rhule's first Baylor hires include 4 Temple assistants

Matt Rhule's first Baylor hires include 4 Temple assistants

WACO, Texas -- New Baylor coach Matt Rhule has made some immediate Texas connections by hiring the president of the state's high school coaches who is a former Bears receiver.

Rhule announced his first five hires with the Bears on Friday, three days after being named Baylor's coach. They include four members from his staff at Temple and David Wetzel, the head coach and athletic director the past 13 seasons at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio.

Sean Padden will serve as Baylor's director of football operations, similar to his role at Temple the past four years.

Rhule didn't immediately announce the titles and job duties for Wetzel, Francis Brown, Mike Siravo and Evan Cooper. There was also no indication of when the rest of his staff would be completed.

Brown and Siravo were defensive assistants at Temple, and Cooper was director of player personnel for the Owls.

Wetzel, who has coached in the state high school ranks for 25 years, was serving as president of the Texas High School Football Coaches Association. He lettered at Baylor in 1990 and 1991 while playing for Grant Teaff, and also earned a master's degree from the school in 1994. Before Reagan, he was head coach at schools in Killeen and Austin.

Wetzel told the Waco Tribune-Herald that he expects to play a major role in recruiting, but didn't know yet if he'd be coaching offense or defense.

"Given the opportunity, it's really a unique deal," Wetzel told the newspaper. "I feel like it's God's timing for me to be in the right place at the right time."

When Rhule was introduced Wednesday in Waco, he said he had already received about 480 text messages, many from coaches. He also didn't rule out the possibility of some of the current Baylor assistants staying, but said he hadn't had a chance to meet with them. Those assistants were retained from former coach Art Briles' staff with Jim Grobe as acting head coach this season.

Note
Baylor announced Friday that Jalen Pitre, a defensive back from Stafford, Texas, signed a financial aid agreement that will allow him to enroll for the spring 2017 semester after graduating from high school early. Before Rhule was hired, Pitre was the only player verbally committed for Baylor's recruiting class in February. He had 83 tackles, six interceptions and four forced fumbles as a senior.

Dorial Green-Beckham fined by NFL for wearing Yeezy cleats

Dorial Green-Beckham fined by NFL for wearing Yeezy cleats

Dorial Green-Beckham didn't support any charity with his cleats last Sunday.

In reality, he was funding the NFL.

The Eagles' receiver was fined $6,076 by the NFL for wearing Yeezy cleats (Kanye West's shoes), which had no affiliation to a charitable organization or cause, CSNPhilly.com has confirmed. Players around the NFL last weekend wore decorative spikes supporting a charity or cause they felt passionately about as part of the league's My Cleats, My Cause promotion. Green-Beckham was fined because his cleats were unapproved by the league; earlier this season Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins was fined for wearing Yeezy cleats. 

Green-Beckham told NJ.com’s Eliot Shorr-Parks he was supporting the "Yeezy Foundation." ESPN's Tim McManus first reported the fine on Friday. 

Bradham fined for tackle
Speaking of fines, Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham was hit with a $18,231 fine for his horse-collar tackle last Sunday on Bengals running back Jeremy Hill in the third quarter.

The first-year Eagle finished the game with five total tackles and a forced fumble.