Peter Laviolette will not be fired this year so get used to it

Peter Laviolette will not be fired this year so get used to it

There are a lot of things that hockey analysts and announcers say that I think is just pure poppycock. They’re often too quick to run and hide behind their trusted clichés to try and explain things that deserve more in-depth attention. But one thing I do agree with is that a group of guys can take some time to become a team. Analysts will refer to this as gelling.

Did you honestly think a “successful” trip to Lake Placid was all that a group of 20+ guys needed to magically become a cohesive unit? Come on, brah.

Last night the Flyers were inconsistent to be sure, but it was a new kind of inconsistency. There were parts of the 1st and 2nd periods that the Flyers absolutely dominated the Leafs in a way that I can’t remember seeing for years. They just looked like a superior team. They were all over the Leafs. They were everywhere. It was just a matter of time before that second goal went in because the Leafs couldn’t even get the puck. It was like watching a real power house playing a team looking to get more balls in the draft lottery. And then, of course, there was the usual shit we’re used to – bad passes, no forecheck, not even putting two guys on the puck with the goalie pulled. But those highs were so high.

A big part of that top tier performance was the play of Vinny LeCavalier and Mark Streit. These guys are going to be difference makers. They play a brand of game we haven’t seen in Philly for some time outside of Claude Giroux and at times Danny Briere. They’re creative, hard-working, willing to take risks and very, very skilled. They’re also two new pieces of a team that had its head screwed on backwards last season. It’s going to take these two guys, former captains as you know, some time to adjust to this new environment. Actually, that’s wrong. It’s going to take this environment some time to adjust to these new pieces. Once that happens this team will without a doubt become more consistent. And when they’re consistent within the system the wins will start coming like unemployment checks, baby.

And that’s why I don’t think there is even a seed of doubt in Paul Holmgren’s or Senor Snider’s heads in regards to the coaching situation. Even if this team was 21-21 halfway through the season (which it won’t be) the hierarchy has been established, the king has spoken. Sure some players might move, some lines and pairings might change, but the repeated declarations by Homer and Snider that Laviolette is not on the hot seat weren’t meant merely to answer the media’s questions, they were also almost surely to let the players know that they’re not in an unstable environment where they can choose to opt out – they are playing for this coach, this GM and this owner all year so they better work through the rough spots because there is no one to blame and fire a quarter of the way through the season.

This helps Laviolette to keep the room. As will the presence of Lecavalier and Streit in addition to a pretty well-rounded leadership group that was already established.

Now the best Flyers Mailbag in the world not run by Dave Isaac!

@sbaicker…if you could grab any Flyer from history at their career best and plop them on this team, who'd it be?
I wanted to be clever and say Pronger during his Blues/Oilers/Ducks years (which might be true) or someone like Bill Barber that could score 60 playing with Claude Giroux, but I think I’m going to have to go with the layup and say Bernie Parent. Now, I’m young and sexy and as a matter of fact just swagged my YOLO this morning so I never saw Parent play, but from what I read he was a legend – like in the conversation for best goalie ever. That, and the fact that goalie is such an important position in hockey makes this a no brainer. It’s like, would you want Mike Schmidt in his prime or to compile the best starting rotation plucked from their prime. A goalie can win games all by his lonesome, even if Andrej Meszaros is “playing defense” in front of him.

Note: There was a 3 game stretch, right after he adopted the Breath-Rite, that Trent Klatt was possibly the best hockey player on the planet.

@Treblaw What Should The Goal Song Be?
Oh God, are you trying to get me e-murdered? One time in 2008 I named some songs I thought the Flyers should listen to in warm ups, keep in mind this is just warm ups, and some metal dudes came to my apartment and locked me in my refrigerator. If the Flyers wanted a throwback I think they could have done better with Black Betty. It’s gotta be something that’s a) intense for a short period of time and b) repeatable. I’m not sure TNT or Black Betty fits that criteria as they’re like classic rock intense, which is like beer when you need a shot of whiskey. Banana Phone and Mambo #5 fit the bill, but if I had my druthers they would play the National Anthem after every goal in honor of the troops. And if you disagree with that you should move to Mexico.

Greg H: You think Bryz can really play in the ECHL?
This is ludicrous. I really don’t understand why he would do this to himself. Surely there has to be some European team that he could play for and stay out of the North American limelight. I only say this because I actually like Bryz. I think it’s a shame that he’s been dragged through the streets for (oh my God!) having a personality! I think it sucks that it’s going serve as a lesson to all current and future NHLers to not tell the media that you like to read (gasp!) or that you have any interests outside of hockey besides eating chicken and pasta or sometimes fish and pasta. I’m assuming this is part of some attempt to make it back to the NHL so he can stick it up everyone’s ass and I’m rooting for him. He’s surely learned his lesson about how to act in the locker room and I’m sure he’ll keep his mouth shut or give hockey answers when he has to participate at all going forward. The guy has certainly been broken if this is where he’s at. Bryz for Masterson 2014.

Jack P: How effective is a 4th line that has jay rosehill on it?
That was a stupid decision. I’m all for fighting even though I know it’s dangerous but I am not all for wasting freaking roster spots. When you start making hockey decisions based on whether or not Colton Orr is in the lineup you’re screwed.

Billy L: Who is your favorite former Flyer still in the NHL?

I think I have an underdog fetish. I’ve always enjoyed seeing Steve Downie do well since he left Philly. The Downie/Carle trade worked out well for everyone involved but at the time I felt like they were giving up on a player they drafted too early for questionable reasons. A couple years removed from a 46 point year and some injury plagued seasons and now playing on the Avalanches 1st line with Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Rielly…good for him.

Tim Tebow's baseball bid 'kind of a slap in the face,' says Phillies reliever

Tim Tebow's baseball bid 'kind of a slap in the face,' says Phillies reliever

CHICAGO — David Hernandez has great respect for what Tim Tebow did on the football field.

But as for Tebow's bid to become a major-league baseball player at age 29 after not having played the game since he was a junior in high school — well, Hernandez has some strong opinions.

The Phillies' relief pitcher first voiced them on Twitter when Tebow announced his intentions two weeks ago and echoed them when it was announced Tuesday that the former Heisman trophy-winning quarterback had scheduled a private showcase for major-league scouts to be held next week in Los Angeles. As a matter of curiosity and due diligence, the Phillies will have a scout peek in on Tebow's workout. As many as 20 other teams are expected to be on hand as well.

"I think it's ridiculous," Hernandez said of Tebow's bid to reach the majors. "Hats off to him for getting an opportunity, but I just don't think it's very plausible that he'll get anywhere.

"Nothing against him, but just from the standpoint that getting to the major leagues is a long grind. It's not easy. There's a lot of work that goes into it. 

"It's kind of a slap in the face for him to say, 'I think I'll grab my things and go play pro baseball.' It's not that easy."

Hernandez, 31, pitched in high school and college then spent more than four seasons in the minors before getting to the majors with Baltimore in 2009. Before signing with the Phillies last winter, he pitched for Arizona and survived Tommy John surgery. 

In other words, he's put in the time. He knows how difficult it is to make the climb to the majors.

So does catcher Cameron Rupp. He was recruited to play linebacker at Iowa, but baseball was his first love and playing in the majors his goal. He played three years for his home state Texas Longhorns before being selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2010 draft. 

Rupp laughed when he first heard of Tebow's intention. 

He remained skeptical when he heard Tebow had lined up a showcase.

"If that's what he wants to do — good luck," Rupp said. "Guys play a long time trying to get where we are. And those that are here are trying to stay here. Staying here is the tough part.

"High school is one thing. A lot of guys play high school and were good and get to pro ball and are overmatched. He's an athlete, no question. But you can't go 10 years without seeing live pitching and all of the sudden some guy is throwing 95 (mph). That will be a challenge. 

"I don't know if he thinks baseball is easy. It's not. It'll be interesting."

Bench coach Larry Bowa is a huge sports fan, loves football and loves what Tebow did on the field at the University of Florida. 

But Bowa has been in pro ball for 50 years. He played in the majors for 16 years and has managed and coached in the majors. Like Hernandez and Rupp, Bowa is skeptical about Tebow's chances and he wonders about the former quarterback's overall understanding of the challenge he faces.

"Whosever idea it is, they don't respect the game of baseball," Bowa said. "It's a hard game. You don't come in at age 28 or 29. I'm not saying he's not a good athlete, but this is a hard game and there are a lot of good athletes in pro ball that never get to the big leagues. 

"I don't think it can happen. There are guys 28 or 29 that are getting released everyday. How can you take 10 years off and all of the sudden be facing guys throwing 95, guys throwing sliders?"

Tebow did show some baseball tools as an outfielder/pitcher in high school. He hit .494 with four homers and 30 RBIs as a junior at Nease HS in Ponte Vedra, Florida, before giving up baseball to focus on football. He played three seasons in the NFL with the Broncos and Jets but failed to stick. 

Clearly, he still has the competitiveness, desire and work ethic that he took to the gridiron. It's just difficult to see that ever getting him to the major leagues. 

But if he ever does ...

"Who knows, maybe I'll face him," critic David Hernandez said with a laugh. "Hopefully he doesn't hit a home run off me. That would be the ultimate comeback."

MLB Notes: Angels closer Huston Street has season-ending surgery

MLB Notes: Angels closer Huston Street has season-ending surgery

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Los Angeles Angels closer Huston Street has undergone season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

Street had surgery to repair a torn meniscus Wednesday in his native Texas.

The surgery puts an end to the least impressive season of Street's 12-year career. The three-time All-Star is 3-2 with a career-low nine saves and a 6.45 ERA.

Street hasn't pitched since July 31. He missed significant playing time earlier this season with an oblique muscle injury.

Street is expected to be healthy for next season. He is under contract for $9 million in 2017.

He is the sixth player to undergo season-ending surgery for the Angels (52-73), who are on pace for their worst season in 23 years.

Nationals: Katie Ledecky to throw out 1st pitch
WASHINGTON -- Swimmer Katie Ledecky is throwing out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday night as the Washington Nationals host the Baltimore Orioles in game three of a four-game series.

The 19-year-old Bethesda native returned from the games in Rio with four golds and a silver medal. It will be the third time Ledecky has thrown out the first pitch at Nationals Park.

The Nationals have lost the first two games of the Beltway rivalry series.

Ledecky set world records in winning the 400m freestyle and 800m freestyle. She also won gold in the 200m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay, and silver in the 4x100m freestyle.

She will be a freshman at Stanford in the fall.

Phillies beat writer promises to 'eat his shoe' if Tim Tebow ever plays in MLB

Phillies beat writer promises to 'eat his shoe' if Tim Tebow ever plays in MLB

The Philadelphia Phillies are among the teams who will go give Tim Tebow a look during his baseball workout for roughly 20 MLB teams.

That's according to Phillies beat writer Jim Salisbury who writes that the chances of Tebow making it to Major League Baseball as "extremely thin."

Then, when appearing on Philly Sports Talk on Tuesday evening, he tossed in the added bonus of shoe eating.

"I think this is more of a due dillegence thing just to say that you were there," Salisbury told Michael Barkann. "This guy hasn't played baseball in more than a decade. Before that it wasn't like he was a standout. He was more of a tools plalyer, a good athlete."

"If he ever plays a day in the big leagues I will eat my shoe," Salisbury said.

I think it's safe to say we are all pulling really hard for Timmy to make it now.