Jason Akeson doesn’t deserve to be portrayed as goat

Jason Akeson doesn’t deserve to be portrayed as goat

If the Philadelphia Flyers eventually lose their first-round playoff series with the New York Rangers as they did Game 1, Jason Akeson’s four-minute high-sticking penalty will live in infamy as one of the turning points.

Should the orange and black go on to win, the penalty and resulting outcome will be as good as forgotten. Or, should Akeson ever develop into a productive NHL player, the transgression might turn out to be nothing more than a footnote in his career. Maybe.

If the Flyers are knocked out—especially in six or seven—the name Akeson will forever become a part of Philly sports lore. Only his having a hand in winning a future Stanley Cup here could erase that.

Otherwise, people will always wonder how a player who had not dressed until the final day of the regular season, who had only two career NHL games under his belt, found himself on the ice in the third period of a tie game during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They’ll ask how Akeson could make such a stupid, careless mistake, never mind he just lost his balance and the high stick was clearly an accident.

The passage of time will undoubtedly forget Akeson was actually the best, most active forward on the ice that night.

Revisionist history won’t recall the ineffectiveness of Claude Giroux and the captain’s top line. Akeson along with Michael Raffl paced the stagnant Philly offense with three shots each, each more than the entire G line combined.

Akeson’s blunder will be talked about as if killing off at least half the power play wasn’t an option. One day, it will seem almost as if the Flyers didn’t go the first seven minutes without a shot on goal, or the entire third period with only one, or 15 total for the whole game.

Jason Akeson will just be that dude who clumsily whacked Carl Hagelin in the face while falling down. And it just happened to draw blood, an arbitrary rule that causes a double minor. And the Rangers scored on both ends of it to seal the Flyers’ fate.

Yeah, the kid messed up. He got overly aggressive and used poor technique, a combination that directly led to the mistake, a penalty in a spot Philadelphia could ill-afford one. Akeson doesn’t get left off the hook for showing poor judgment.

The stick wasn’t the reason the Flyers lost though. Nor was Ray Emery starting in goal in place of Steve Mason, out with an upper-body injury.

New York plain dominated the game from start to finish. Akeson just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The perfect scapegoat.

It will be interesting to see whether head coach Craig Berube has the fortitude to go with the 23-year-old in Game 2, or again at all this postseason.

It wasn’t like he was the only player wearing orange and black who appeared to have his skates laced up tight or anything. Jason Akeson was just the rookie who made the dumb rookie mistake that predictably brought down the entire house of cards, the one that was leaning already.

P.J. Carlesimo turns down Sixers' associate head coach job for 'family reasons'

052716-simmons-slide.jpg

P.J. Carlesimo turns down Sixers' associate head coach job for 'family reasons'

Thirty-five years is more than enough time to get a sense of who a person is and how they do their job. That is how long Brett Brown has known P.J. Carlesimo, which made it easy for the Sixers' head coach to have interest in adding him to the staff. 

With Mike D’Antoni leaving to coach the Rockets, the Sixers had a vacancy at the associate head coach position. On Sunday, though, Carlesimo decided not to join the Sixers’ staff and remain a television analyst.

“He was a natural fit for me,” Brown said Monday following a pre-draft workout. “For family reasons, he just couldn’t do it. We talked a lot and it was an emotional thing from P.J.’s perspective. 

“P.J. is a very close friend of mine and he made that decision for family reasons and I understand it. The phone call really didn’t surprise me knowing what I know of him and how he views his family, having to travel across the country the whole time.”

Like D’Antoni, Carlesimo has a lengthy résumé on the NBA sidelines. He was a head coach for parts of nine seasons and worked five as an assistant coach. Brown called working with D’Antoni “a real learning experience,” and an ideal candidate would have similar experience to help both the staff and the young roster.

“That role will be filled with maybe that type of flavor,” Brown said. “I know this, we are still in a complete development mode. We still have a bunch of 20 year olds, guys that could be with us for a long time, but they’re not old, that we have to make sure that the city and me, we remember that. We still need people and teachers that can teach and coach and establish relationships. 

“So you tick boxes on relationships, teaching, development, those still rule the day. If you can do that with some veteran wisdom and some type of experiences like Mike’s, say, or P.J. had, well then you’re really knocking it out of the park.”

Coaching vacancies are coveted at this level. With the No. 1 pick in the draft, a revamped front office, and a 125,000-square foot training facility under construction, the Sixers have enhanced the appeal of the role. 

"My phone is very active, as you can imagine," Brown said. "I think it’s a highly attractive position. … Like our draft picks, I too spend a lot of time studying who will be the best fit for me and our program."

Tonight's Lineup: Ryan Howard (surprisingly) starts at 1B

ap_841901862648.jpg

Tonight's Lineup: Ryan Howard (surprisingly) starts at 1B

So much for trimming Ryan Howard's playing time.

One day after Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he plans on giving 24-year-old Tommy Joseph more starts against right-handed pitchers, Mackanin flipped the switch Monday.

Howard is penciled in as the starting first baseman for the Phils' series-opener against the Nationals on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park against Tanner Roark (3-4, 2.71).

After the Phillies were clobbered by the MLB-best Chicago Cubs on Sunday — and the weekend, really — Mackanin said the Phils have to get a longer look at Joseph.

"We brought up Joseph up here for a reason, to get a look at him," the manager said after the Phillies' 7-2 on Sunday afternoon (see story). "I can't let him stagnate on the bench like (Darin) Ruf ended up doing, so he's going to face some right-handed pitchers to keep his timing."

Joseph will have to wait another day to get in the lineup. To be fair, Joseph did face five righties last week, but three of those came with the designated hitter in play.

For Howard, however, the club icon is in a major rut that has had many outsiders calling for him to retire or for the team to release him. He's hitting .154 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in 136 at-bats and is 6 for 62 (.097) with 25 strikeouts in May.

Here's the silver lining, however. Howard is a career .333 hitter in 12 at-bats against Roark, who he's taken deep once and has six RBIs against.

The Phillies turn to Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 3.97) to snap their three-game skid. He's faced the Nationals twice this season, allowing six — five earned — runs over 10⅓ innings.

Here is the Phillies' full lineup:

Phillies
1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Carlos Ruiz, C
6. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
7. Tyler Goeddel, LF
8. Jeremy Hellickson, P
9. Peter Bourjos, RF

For more on tonight's game, check out Steven Tyding's game notes.

MLB Notes: Mets' manager Terry Collins worried David Wright might be headed for DL

ap_841901862648.jpg

MLB Notes: Mets' manager Terry Collins worried David Wright might be headed for DL

NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York's captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

White Sox: Shuck called up with Jackson injured
NEW YORK -- With Austin Jackson bothered by turf toe, the Chicago White Sox recalled outfielder J.B. Shuck from Charlotte and optioned right-hander Tommy Kahnle to the Triple-A farm team.

Jackson left Sunday's game in the eighth inning because of his left foot.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Monday's series opener against the New York Mets that he doesn't think Jackson's injury at this point merits a move to the disabled list. He adds that the team does not "necessarily want to lose him for two weeks right away."

Shuck was batting fifth and playing center field Monday. He was 0 for 9 with the White Sox before he was sent down April 18 when Chicago needed to add a pitcher. He is hitting .299 at Charlotte with two homers and 17 RBIs.

Kahnle is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four games over three stints with Chicago this season.