Plenty of press focusing on the Flyers' shootout woes lately, a pretty full spectrum of opinions. Here's one we hadn't really considered before though—Rick Tocchet on the idea of rostering a shootout specialist rather than a goon. Per Frank Seravalli:
"Shootouts killed me with Tampa Bay. We were terrible at it. I was just talking to Brett Hull about this the other day, and if I ever were to get into coaching again, I think I'd rather have a specialty shooter on my team - someone that you can bring off the bench - rather than a fourth liner that might fight. Few players can have as much of an impact on your overall standing as a shootout specialist."
Where have you gone, hockey of my youth…
It seems a little crazy, but at the same time, how many of us really see the goon slot continuing to be filled? It's already tapered off, with more emphasis on guys who can fight, but must do much more.
I'd be interested in what kind of player exactly fits the shootout specialist mold though, if it exists. A lower-priced Nik Zherdev? If a trio of Claude Giroux, Jaromir Jagr, and Danny Briere can't excel at it, the proposed position seems hard to pinpoint. Unless we're talking about the hockey version of the And 1 guys?
It look like the Eagles have found their replacement for Greg Lewis.
According to ESPN's Adam Caplan, the Eagles are expected to hire Rams receivers/passing game coordinator Mike Groh.
The news that the Eagles fired Lewis came out on Jan. 9 and the team has been looking for a replacement. They reportedly interviewed Groh and Bills receivers coach Sanjay Lal.
Groh, 45, spent the 2016 season with the Rams after three years as the Bears' receivers coach. Groh is available because the Rams switched head coaches, bringing in Sean McVay.
Before coming to the NFL, Groh was a longtime coach at the college level. He is the son of former Virginia head coach Al Groh and eventually became an offensive coordinator under his father before bouncing from Alabama to Louisville and then back to Alabama before heading to the NFL.
Groh was actually the quarterback at Virginia in the 90s before his father ever coached there. Groh's first coaching job was under his father as assistant coach with the Jets in 2000, when Al Groh was named their head coach for the season.
If the Eagles are looking to sign a big-name free agent at wide receiver, there could be a reunion of sorts in Philly. During his four seasons as an NFL receivers coach, Groh has worked with Alshon Jeffery and Kenny Britt, who are two of the top receivers who will be available.
The Eagles started their season with a first-round pick, two second-round picks and a third-round pick at wide receiver, but their unit was one of the worst in the NFL. Jordan Matthews was consistent, but tight end Zach Ertz was the team's leading receiver.
It's unlikely Groh will have the same unit to work with as Lewis did in 2016, but it is likely Groh will be expected to get more out of his group in 2017.