Shock Therapy: Matt Carle Bolts for Tampa Bay

Shock Therapy: Matt Carle Bolts for Tampa Bay

Obviously the Flyers didn't land Ryan Suter, but it wasn't really the end of the world. After all, there are other fish in the sea... just not so many this summer.

Less than 12 hours later, it turned out the team would not retain Matt Carle, either -- and strangely enough, getting over number 25 could prove far more difficult. The Flyers were unwilling to give their free agent defenseman the commitment he desired, not at six years, $33 million. That's the size of the contract the Tampa Bay Lighting handed Carle on Wednesday night, and thin as the Orange and Black are on the back end, management simply did not feel he warranted that.

GM Paul Holmgren was said to already be hard at work replacing Carle even before the news came down. Coincidentally, it's Tampa's Bruno Gervais that is reportedly on the Flyers' radar, and from the sound of things, he might be signed as early as Thursday.

However, around the league Gervais is not seen as Carle's equal, not by a long shot. Therein lies the problem for Philadelphia. Carle probably isn't worth the $5.5 million per the Lightning forked over, but as we've been over again and again, blue-line depth isn't exactly considered a position of strength at the moment.

Of course, there is some debate as to exactly how good Matt Carle really is, but clearly good enough to command a hefty price on the open market. With respect to both ends of the discussion, Carle suffers from lapses in judgment at his own end, is not the shutdown defender the club desperately needs, and his reputation arguably benefited from his one-time pairing with Chris Pronger. Then again, Carle is excellent at moving the puck, which leads to plenty of helpers and makes the offense go in general, in addition to his role on the power play.

In other words, after four tours of duty in Philly, the soon-to-be 28 year old was imperfect, and drew the ire of some fans for qualities he was never supposed to have. The Flyers will certainly miss aspects of Carle's game though, including the 81 games and 38 points he averaged over the past three seasons.

The question is what, if anything, the Flyers will do next. With a limited free agent pool to wade into, Gervais could be the biggest name the Flyers sign. It seems more likely the front office will try to fill their hole via a trade -- either Shea Weber, Nashville's other (and possibly better) D-man who may not re-sign there, or the inevitable Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan deal that does nothing for defense, but instead places the onus on scoring even more goals.

Weber's name keeps coming up, and after Suter turned down what was apparently a competitive offer from the Predators, the assumption is the organization may stand little chance keeping the restricted free agent beyond this season. Meanwhile, Nash and Ryan continue to be shopped around, and while the Flyers are listening, the front office appears determined to hang on to valuable chips such as Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier.

And if they should go into the upcoming season with their defense the way it is? You can sense the panic from those who follow the team closest. It means further reliance on youngsters Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson, as well as nondescript vets Andrej Meszaros and Andreas Lilja.

Admittedly, I'm not the world's biggest Matt Carle fan. While I tended to stick up for him in 10-11, it seemed the mistakes outweighed the good last season, even though some statistics tell a different story. If the price were right, I would have preferred to have him back with the understanding what his skill set is, but for the money the Lightning gave, I would take my chances too as the Flyers' chief exec.

Regardless, I can't help but feel I'm missing some specific irony here. The last time the Flyers went head-to-head with Tampa Bay, Carle slipped one in his own net behind Ilya Bryzgalov. While clearly an accident, and not the first guy to make a bonehead play on the ice, it was the type of event a professional athlete could never live down. Odds are he was never a double agent, but whether it was deserved or not, you got the sense some fans almost felt that way about Matt Carle.

>> Bolts sign Carle, Flyers negotiating with Gervais [CSN]

National champion Villanova to be honored at White House next week

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USA Today Images

National champion Villanova to be honored at White House next week

It's been nearly two months since Villanova won the National Championship in one of the most memorable games in NCAA Tournament history.

Since then, the Wildcats have been honored by the city (parade), the New York Stock Exchange (opening bell), the Phillies (first pitch), the Flyers and the Union. Earlier this week, head coach Jay Wright addressed the Eagles.

But that will all pale in comparison to where the Wildcats will be next Tuesday, when they become the latest championship team to visit the White House and meet President Barack Obama.

The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 4:10 p.m. and will be streamed on www.whitehouse.gov/live.

In his pool, President Obama had Villanova finally advancing past the second round — "I know that eventually they're going to break through. They've had some bad luck over the last couple of years," Obama told ESPN.com — but had the Wildcats falling to Kansas in the regional semifinal.

He then had Kansas beating North Carolina to win the title.

After surviving the first weekend for the first time since their Final Four run in 2009, Villanova ousted Kansas, 64-59, before shocking Buddy Hield and Oklahoma in the national semifinal, winning by 44. The Wildcats then won one of the most memorable championship games in NCAA Tournament history when Kris Jenkins hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Tar Heels, 77-74.

Union transfer contract of Michael Lahoud to Miami FC

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Union transfer contract of Michael Lahoud to Miami FC

The Union have cashed in on Michael Lahoud.

After terminating his loan to the New York Cosmos on Tuesday, the Union recalled Lahoud and officially sold the 29-year-old midfielder to Miami FC of the NASL for an undisclosed amount.

“Mike always served the club in a professional manner during his time here,” said Union sporting director Earnie Stewart, who loaned Lahoud to the Cosmos this offseason. “We thank him for his service and want to wish him the best of luck in Miami and in his future endeavors.”

Lahoud, whose prorated $115,637.50 guaranteed salary comes off the Union’s salary cap, was acquired in 2012 in a trade with Chivas USA for defender Danny Califf. He made 58 appearances with the Union before being loaned out.

Eagles' left guard job is Allen Barbre's, but backups are pushing

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Eagles' left guard job is Allen Barbre's, but backups are pushing

Allen Barbre is the Eagles’ starting left guard.

For now.

The 31-year-old offensive lineman started all 16 games at left guard in 2015, and as of Tuesday at OTAs, he was still a starter for Doug Pederson’s new-look offense.

But that could change.

There are several players pushing for the left guard spot. Among them are Stefen Wisniewski, Malcolm Bunche, Isaac Seumalo and Andrew Gardner.

“I definitely am trying to start somewhere,” said Wisniewski, a free-agent signing. “I think I would be a good starting left guard.”

Wisniewski, 27, signed a one-year prove-it deal in early April to join the Eagles (see story). After being taken in the second round of the 2011 draft, Wisniewski has started 77 of 80 possible games in the NFL. He clearly views himself as a starter in the NFL.

For the last two weeks, he’s been working with the second team at guard and center.

“Yeah, it’s weird. It’s definitely weird,” Wisniewski said. “I haven’t spent much time with the twos in five years. Probably a week or two. So it’s definitely different, but I’m just looking at it as a temporary thing, though.”

This offseason, the Eagles added veteran Brandon Brooks to play right guard, taking over for Matt Tobin, but Barbre is still slotted on the left side. In fact, to hammer the point home, the starting offensive linemen have their lockers in a row in the deep corner of the locker room, from left to right: Jason Peters, Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brooks, Lane Johnson.

So, as of late May, Barbre is still the starter.

“I really like where we're at. I like the depth at that position right now,” Pederson said last week. “But yeah, Allen Barbre is my guy and he's our starter.”

Wisniewski is the most accomplished of the backups pushing for that starting left guard spot, but he’s not alone.

Bunche, who was on the Eagles’ practice squad in 2015 after going undrafted out of UCLA, has been working with the second team at left guard during practice. And the second-year player thinks he has a shot at the starting job too.

“Oh yes. But not just that one,” Bunche said. “Throughout the season, anything can happen. That’s one thing that [offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland], he talks about it a lot, you never know when you’re number is going to be called. You just gotta stay in tune with what’s being called, the play-calling, the different techniques going into certain games. I feel I have an opportunity to take that spot if I wanted to. My mindset it to come in and get better each and every day.”

Another possible starting left guard isn’t with the team right now. Third-round pick Seumalo, from Oregon State, is back at school because of the NFL graduation rule and Oregon State’s quarters system. He would be a logical choice to compete for that starting job, but he’s missing valuable time at OTAs.

Meanwhile, Barbre, who had started just eight total games in his seven-year career before 2015, is trying to stave off his competitors. The veteran knows the team brought in a bunch of new offensive linemen this offseason (they have 17 on the roster). He just doesn’t care.

“Honestly, I wasn’t really worried about that,” Barbre said Tuesday. “Honestly, I thought I played fairly decent (in 2015), if you studied the film and you understood what went on. There was a lot of stuff that was tough on the O-line, so it made it kind of tough on us.”

The criticism of the offensive line last season was loud, especially criticism of the guard positions, but Barbre did his best to avoid it.  

“I don’t even read it,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t even care. You guys got your jobs and I have my job. We all have different things we have to do.”

Right now, Barbre’s job is to hold onto that starting spot, while Wisniewski and the rest try to steal it away.