Philly March Madness: (6) Pelle Lindbergh vs. (11) Keith Primeau

Philly March Madness: (6) Pelle Lindbergh vs. (11) Keith Primeau

Over the next few weeks at The700Level, we'll be posting poll       matchups as part of our Philly March Madness competition.               Examine the       cases of the two fine Philadelphia    athletes     below,    and     cast     your  vote at  the bottom as to    which you     think should    advance to         the next  round. And     as always,   feel   free to explain    your    selection      and/or     debate the   choices    in the comments section.

(6) Pelle Lindbergh

The story of Pelle Lindbergh’s career in Philadelphia is equal parts brilliant and tragic. Before the age of 27, Pelle had become one of the greatest goalies in Flyers history, notched a 40-win season, won a Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender of the season, and was three times named an All-Star. He also died before the age of 27, leaving a legion of fans wondering “What if?” for the next two decades and counting. A native of Stockholm, Sweden, Lindberg came up monitoring Bernie Parent, which would come full circle when Bernie would later train him like a Jedi in the North American style of play. Possibly appreciating iconography, Pelle even wore a white mask strikingly similar to Bernie’s trademark look. Lindbergh was a pioneer for European goalies, the first to win a Vezina, and he won the hearts of the city for good with a run to the Stanley Cup Finals in his third NHL season, 1984-1985. Unfortunately, just 14 games into the next season, after the team had won its tenth straight, Lindbergh had a few too many celebration beers and got behind the wheel of his Porsche. You know the rest of the story.

Lindbergh will be remembered for his greatness over a short career, but sadly, it’s impossible to recall him without feeling the pain of losing him so soon. He might have been the best ever. No Flyer has worn the number 31 since Pelle, though it has never officially been retired. -Matt P.


(11) Keith Primeau

Keith Primeau came to the Flyers after a tenure in Detroit that was both productive and frustrating, followed by a brief stop in Hartford before the Whalers moved south and become the Carolina Hurricanes. In 1999, the Canes traded him to Philadelphia in exchange for Rod Brind’Amour, something of an oddity given that both were veteran guys who played the same position. The popular Brind’Amour left big shoes to fill, but none could be bigger than those of Eric Lindros, who would be traded out of Philly after sitting out most of the 2000-2001 campaign. In that, Primeau’s first full season as a Flyer, he led the team in goals. Not long into the next campaign, Eric Desjardins handed the C he briefly held to Primeau, who would serve as captain from 2001 to 2006.

Like Lindros, Primeau had a big frame and could hit, pass, skate, and score. It was the power forward era in Philly, and Prims led the next generation. His defining moment as a Flyer came in game four of the Eastern Conference semifinals, when he ended the longest game in modern NHL history by putting a wrister over Penguin goalie Ron Tugnutt’s shoulder in the fifth overtime. It was a game and a shot no Flyer fan will ever forget. Primeau also had a memorable run in the 2004 playoffs, adding to his legacy in Philadelphia, which had seen some bumps along the way. The captain, along with several key members of the team, was vocal in his opposition to coach Bill Barber, who was fired after a strong team dramatically underperformed down the stretch. Unfortunately, Primeau’s career was cut short by a concussion just after the start of the 2005 season, a reminder at how quickly something great can come to an end in a contact sport. -Matt P.

    Who should advance to the next round?survey software

Results So Far:

East Bracket:

(1) Julius Erving (91.8%) over (16) Von Hayes (8.2%)
(8) Simon     Gagne (77.9%) over (9) Seth Joyner (22.1%)
(5) Eric Lindros (70.3%)     over (12) Eric Allen (29.7%)
(4) Randall Cunningham (77.6%) over   (13)   Shane Victorino (23.4%)
(11) Cole Hamels (82.1%) over (6) Mark     Recchi (17.9%)
(14) Tug McGraw (51.1%) over (3) Moses Malone   (48.9%)
(7)   Darren Daulton (74.0%) over (10) Andrew Toney (26.0%)
(2)   Chase   Utley (93.5%) over (15) Andre Waters (6.5%)

Midwest Bracket:

(1) Mark Howe (60.2%) over (16) David Akers (39.8%)
(9) Rod     Brind'Amour (73.6%) over (8) Rick Tocchet (26.4%)
(5) Brian Westbrook    (93.3%) over (12) Jayson Werth (6.7%)
(4) Mike Richards (85.1%)   over  (13) Trent Cole (14.9%)
(6) John LeClair (89.2%) over (11)   Clyde  Simmons (10.8%)
(3) Jimmy Rollins (75.8%) over (14) John Kruk   (24.2%)
(7) Lenny Dykstra (51.9%) over (10) Dave Poulin (48.1%)
(2) Allen Iverson (83.1%) over (15) Jeremiah Trotter (16.9%)

West Bracket:

(1) Mike Schmidt (96.9%) over (16) Keith Byars (3.1%)
(9) Wilbert Montgomery (59.4%) over (8) Jeff Carter (40.6%)
(5) Ron Jaworski (83.5%) over (12) Bobby Abreu (16.5%)
(4) Ron Hextall (94.1%) over (13) Andre Iguodala (5.9%)
(6) Mike Quick (59.8%) over (11) Hugh Douglas (40.2%)
(3) Brian Dawkins (98.3%) over (14) Scott Rolen (1.7%)
(7) Maurice Cheeks (51.9%) over (10) Eric Desjardins (48.1%)
(15) Carlos Ruiz (58.9%) over (2) Tim Kerr (41.1%)

South Bracket:

(1) Reggie White (97.1%) over (16) Hersey Hawkins (2.9%)
(9) Troy Vincent (51.8%) over (8) Curt Schilling (48.2%)
(5) Pete Rose (85.2%) over (12) Peter Zezel (14.8%)
(4) Ryan Howard (86.3%) over (13) Jon Runyan (13.7%)

Rick MacLeish's Flyers teammates react to his passing

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Associated Press

Rick MacLeish's Flyers teammates react to his passing

PITTSBURGH -- Former Flyers captain and Hockey Hall of Famer Bob Clarke was Rick MacLeish’s teammate for 12 years and two Stanley Cups.
 
“Ricky was the most talented player the Flyers had during the 1970s,” said a saddened Clarke on Tuesday, after the announcement of MacLeish’s death at 66 late on Memorial Day (see story).
 
“Life after hockey wasn’t fair to Ricky. He left us far too soon.”
 
The center from Lindsay, Ontario, had been hospitalized in Philadelphia since mid-May while suffering from multiple medical issues, according to his daughter Brianna.
 
Here’s what other teammates had to say:
 
“Ricky was a special player for the Flyers,” said Bill Barber. “He always came up with scoring the big goals and he was instrumental helping us win two Stanley Cups. He will be greatly missed.”
 
Gary Dornhoefer was MacLeish's linemate with Ross Lonsberry for almost six seasons.
 
“I’ll tell you what, he was probably the fastest player on the ice,” Dornhoefer said. “As far as a wrist shot is concerned, there was no one better at getting that shot away and accurate. Ross and I would talk and say ‘let’s just give Ricky the puck and he’ll put it in.’
 
“If you look at the amount of goals he scored [328 as a Flyer], well, that’s why we kept giving him the puck. Ross and I had cement hands, so we’d pass the puck to him. The Flyers could have a mediocre game, but because of his skills as a player and the athlete that he was, he could carry us.
 
“He was that gifted. I always felt that during the years he played, he never got the recognition that he properly deserved. He was that good. It saddens me that he was such a young man and is no longer with us. That really hurts.”
 
Bob “The Hound” Kelly agreed.
 
“Rick was probably the most gifted, natural centerman that the Flyers have ever had,” Kelly said. “He was a tough kid who skated and worked hard.
 
“Although he played in the shadow of Clarkie, he was every bit as good as Clarkie. Clarkie was more of a natural leader where Rick was just quiet and simply went out there and played his heart out. He was a great guy and it is very sad that we had to lose him at such an early age.”
 
Joe Watson made a few comparisons.
 
“I’d put him up there with [Claude] Giroux, [Eric] Lindros and [Peter] Forsberg in terms of natural skill,” Watson said. “He was a great player and we’ll certainly miss him.”

Joel Embiid is ready to woo free agent superstar Kevin Durant to Sixers

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Joel Embiid is ready to woo free agent superstar Kevin Durant to Sixers

Now that Joel Embiid is #FinallyHealthy -- at least according to himself on his Instagram page -- and OKC Thunder superstar Kevin Durant's season has come to an end, it's time for Embiid to get to recruiting.

Durant potentially jumping to a new team could be franchise changing, both for the new destination and the KD-less Thunder. Embiid knows this, so he's going to do his best to recruit Durant to come play in Philadelphia for the 76ers.

Okay, maybe not that exactly, but Embiid will certainly at least send some goofy tweets about it.

"Time to recruit KD to the Sixers," Embiid tweeted late last night once the Warriors ended the Thunder's season. The words were followed by a couple of praying hands emojis.

Sixers fans likely remember Embiid's attempted wooing of LeBron James a couple of summers ago when he eventually opted to head back to Cleveland instead of Miami. Embiid attempted a similar wooing tactic back then and it didn't go so well. But at least Embiid thought he was pretty close.

Right. And Embiid almost got engaged to Kim Kardashian (while she was already married with children to Kanye).

Now, if you want to get pedantic, could Embiid's tweets be viewed as tampering? Since NBA free agency doesn't technically begin until July 1? I suppose it's possible if the NBA has no sense of humor.

I think the real takeaway from all of Embiid's Tweets and Instagram posts is that the big man is in good spirits, hopefully because he sees real progress in his health and will actually play competitive basketball for the Sixers someday.

NBA draft profile: Oklahoma G Buddy Hield

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NBA draft profile: Oklahoma G Buddy Hield

Buddy Hield

Position: Guard

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 214 pounds

School: Oklahoma

It seems rare these days for juniors considering the NBA draft to return to school. It's even more unique for those players to take a leap from likely draft picks to lottery locks.

But that's exactly what Buddy Hield did during his dazzling senior season at Oklahoma. The guard demanded the country's attention as he shot his way to 25.0 points per game (second in the nation) and helped the Sooners reach the Final Four as he racked up both the prestigious Wooden and Naismith Awards in the process.

While the scoring was certainly worthy of praise, Hield's efficiency was even more impressive. Despite attempting career highs in field goals (16.2), three-pointers (8.7) and free throws per game (5.4), the sharpshooter increased his percentages across the board. Hield connected on 50.1 percent from the field, 45.7 percent from three-point range and 88.0 percent from the line.

Even though Hield capped off his decorated career with a dud in Oklahoma's Final Four loss to eventual national champion Villanova (nine points on 4 of 12 shooting), he proved throughout the course of the season that his ceiling is higher than expected and that he belongs among the top tier of this year's draft class.

Strengths
All of those days practicing on a milk crate back in the Bahamas paid off because Hield can flat-out shoot the ball. His 147 threes led the nation last season and were tied for the most by any college player since some guy named Stephen Curry drained 162 in 2008.

But Hield isn't just a standstill shooter by any means. Yes, he can catch and shoot, but he also has the ability to fire off screens, pull up off the dribble and get to the rim at times.

Hield also showed he wasn't afraid to stick his nose into the trees by pulling down 5.7 rebounds per game a season ago and 4.9 a night during his time at Oklahoma.

Weaknesses
There is some concern about whether Hield will be able to get that silky shot off the way he wants to at the next level. His jumper does have a lower release point than usual, and at 6-foot-4, he won't be able to just rise up to shoot over smaller defenders in the NBA. That means to get open he will have to rely more on his ball handling, which could use some work and helped lend itself to Hield's 3.1 turnovers per game as a senior. Hield will also have to improve his defense, which has never been a strong suit.

How he'd fit with the Sixers
Seamlessly. In case you haven't heard, the Sixers can use all of the outside shooting help they can get. With so many big bodies doing their work down in the paint, Hield would be able to spot up for one open jumper after another.

However, with the two perceived transcendent talents at the top of the draft, the only way we would be able to see how Hield looks in a Sixers jersey would be if Bryan Colangelo pulls the trigger on a trade to acquire another high draft pick.

NBA comparison
Sure, Hield's game has some similarities to Curry and he received a co-sign from Kobe Bryant during the NCAA Tournament, but let's not get too carried away. A more accurate comparison would be Portland guard and Lehigh product C.J. McCollum. Like McCollum, Hield is a natural shooter who can score from just about anywhere on the floor. Hield also has the drive to get even better, just like McCollum, who walked away with the NBA's Most Improved Player Award this season.

Draft projection
Hield is an early- to mid-lottery selection. Look for him to go somewhere between the fifth and ninth picks.