Giroux and Briere Head to Germany: a Round-up of Flyers Playing Hockey Elsewhere

Giroux and Briere Head to Germany: a Round-up of Flyers Playing Hockey Elsewhere

On the same day the NHL announced the cancellation of the first two weeks of its 2012-13 season, two important Flyers finally made the move several of their teammates had already made as far out as weeks ago. Claude Giroux and Danny Briere, two of the franchise's most recognizable players, are heading to Europe to play hockey.

Giroux and Briere apparently were a package deal, as both opted to join Eisbären Berlin in the Deutsche Eishiockey Liga in Germany. I'm not sure who else their roster is comprised of, but I'm willing to venture a guess they're going to have a pretty good team with these recent additions.

Wayne Simmonds is also among the NHL players who went to Germany, though he's playing in a second-tier league. Elsewhere, Matt Read recently left for Sweden, while Ilya Bryzgalov, Jakub Voracek, and newly-minted Flyer Ruslan Fedotenko fled to the KHL to play for teams in their respective countries of Russia, the Czech Republic, and Ukraine.

Of course, not everybody had to travel halfway around the world. Before the lockout began, the Flyers optioned Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn to Adirondack to continue their development. They join several players who spent significant time with the big club last season, including Marc-Andre Bourdon, Zac Rinaldo, and Eric Wellwood, among others.

And as we learned earlier in the week, just because not everybody has signed in a prominent European league doesn't mean they aren't skating somewhere. Earlier this week we discovered Max Talbot and new teammate Bruno Gervais are involved in a Quebec-Montreal exhibition series.

Others, however, are still contemplating their next move. For instance, Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen haven't made a decision yet, but it's notable they each own minority shares of a professional hockey club in Finland. Either or both certainly could make the jump as this devolves into a protracted standoff, as will others we should think.

On the plus side, the game is a bit different overseas. While injuries are always a possibility, there is generally less physicality, so wear and tear should not be a huge concern. Heck, a guy like Bryz seems to be at his finest when he's on the ice every night. Whenever this thing finally does end, the Flyers may have a bunch of guys returning in mid-season form.

But sadly, all of this is just another reminder that the NHL is not starting on time, and therefore North American fans will be denied the greatest of Giroux, Briere, and just the game itself.

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."