Jaromir Jagr returns for the first time as a Devil

Jaromir Jagr returns for the first time as a Devil

An old friend and fan favorite returns to Philadelphia again tonight.

Jaromir Jagr, the 41-year-old enigma, comes to town this evening as the Flyers host the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center at 7 p.m.

This is actually Jagr’s second visit to Philadelphia since leaving the Orange and Black. If you recall, Jagr came back with Boston this past April 23 during his half-season stint with the Bruins. He recorded and assist but finished minus-1 in a 5-2 Flyers win.

Jagr enters tonight’s contest as the Devils’ leading scorer with three goals and seven assists.  His 10 points would make him the Flyers’ leading scorer by three points over the trio of Vinny Lecavalier, Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux, each of whom have seven points on the season.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that at this point in time the Flyers, especially Jagr’s Philadelphia linemates Giroux and Scott Hartnell, miss the future hall-of-famer’s presence.

During his only season in Philadelphia two years ago, Jagr potted 19 goals and added 35 assists in 73 games played. Giroux – 28 goals and 65 assists – and Hartnell – 37 goals and 30 assists – both had career years playing alongside Jagr.

Oh, how things have changed around these parts.

Since Jagr decided to leave and sign with Dallas during the 2012 offseason, Giroux has totaled just 13 goals and recorded a minus-17 rating in 62 games. Though he’s added 42 assists in that span, his play clearly hasn’t been the same.

In that same span, Hartnell has played just 42 games due to various injuries. In those 42 games, Hartnell has scored nine goals and added just three assists. In fact, Hartnell hasn’t had an assist in the past 36 games.  It’s hard to get assists when the team doesn’t score, but you get the point.

On the ice, the Flyers really miss the way Jagr can create offense. Keep an eye tonight on the way Jagr carries the puck into the offensive zone with ease and the way he uses his body to win board battles and create space for his linemates.

He’s an offensive creator. The Flyers who are supposed to be creating offense, like Giroux and Jake Voracek, simply put, aren’t creating much of anything right now.

The Devils signed Jagr to a one-year, $2 million base-salary contract with another $2 million in potential bonuses this past summer.

In both hindsight and looking at the Flyers’ current offensive struggles, would you have signed Jagr to that type of deal?

It’s worth pondering.

All of this aside, I’m having trouble figuring out what Jagr’s Halloween costume was last week based upon the pictures he posted to his official Facebook page.

70s pornstar Aquaman? That’s my guess.

Brett Brown says Ben Simmons will return in January

Brett Brown says Ben Simmons will return in January

Ben Simmons is on track to return to the Sixers in January, Brett Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday. 

Previous reports indicated that Simmons, who suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot in the Sixers' final training camp scrimmage on Sept. 30, would be out three months. Friday's news jives with that, but this is the first time the Sixers have given a timetable.

"It's not doom and gloom," Brown said. "Ben is coming back in January. We are still trying to find information on Jerryd (Bayless). Jahlil (Okafor) is still trying to touch the court in his first preseason game."

With long-term ramifications in mind, there had been some speculation that Simmons' camp wanted him to sit all season. 

This is rather encouraging news and it means the Sixers may avoid watching another of their top picks miss his entire first year.

Union offering great deals on field level seats ahead of MLS Cup Playoffs

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Union offering great deals on field level seats ahead of MLS Cup Playoffs

Playoff soccer is returning to Chester for the first time in five years, and while fans prep for the Union’s first postseason games since 2011, there is no shortage of seating options for Union tickets on the primary market.

Perhaps most importantly, fans won’t have to break the bank to be on hand as the Union compete for their first MLS Cup in franchise history. Union field level seats are available for both the team’s final home regular season game against the New York Red Bulls and the Eastern Conference Semifinal on October 30 should they advance past the knockout round.

The team’s official website lists feet-on-the-pitch seating starting from $155 per ticket for this weekend’s game against the Red Bulls. The first-place Red Bulls head to Talen Energy Stadium with a first-round bye secured, but Union head coach Jim Curtin expects them to bring the pressure with them on Sunday. Fans can look on up close – and for relatively cheap - as the Union look to hand the Eastern Conference leaders their final loss of the regular season.

The Union will take on either New York City FC or Toronto FC in the knockout round either next Wednesday or Thursday. Pending a victory on the road, they’ll return to Talen Energy Stadium to host an Eastern Conference Semifinal game on October 30. Field level seating is still widely available for the team’s first home playoff game since 2011 and start from $178 per ticket.

2016 marks the franchise’s second MLS Cup Playoffs berth in its seven-year existence. They clinched a first-round bye in 2011 but fell to the Houston Dynamo by a 3-1 aggregate in the Conference Semifinals. The Union bring a much different vibe into the playoffs this season, however, after a formidable stretch from September on nearly drowned their postseason hopes. The team won its last game on August 27 against Sporting Kansas City, losing four games and drawing in two others since. 

Despite the team’s recent struggles, there is a sense of renewment that will carry them into the MLS Cup Playoffs. Records are cast aside and the slate is wiped clean, beginning a new path on the long and often tumultuous road to a national championship.