Simon Gagne Makes It Home in Time for Rivalry Night with the Washington Capitals

Simon Gagne Makes It Home in Time for Rivalry Night with the Washington Capitals

While Philly fans had to be happy on some level when they
heard Simon Gagne was coming home, the move did raise a few questions – not to
mention eyebrows. The Flyers are fighting for their playoff lives, and general manager
Paul Holmgren’s cure was to trade for a 33 year old who hasn’t played a full
season at a high level since 2008-’09?

That of course would be reading too much into the deal.
Gagne isn’t the answer to all of the Flyers’ problems, but he could be a viable
solution to one: the club’s increasingly-challenged depth at left wing.

Shortly after the trade with Los Angeles was announced, the
Flyers revealed Tye McGinn would miss two weeks with an orbital bone fracture, a
result of his fight with Toronto’s Mike Brown on Monday night. Check it out:

McGinn joins Matt Read, Tom Sestitio, and Jody Shelley on
the list of injured forwards. Read surprisingly skated on Wednesday, but is
expected to be out another five weeks with torn rib cage muscles. Sestito’s
timetable is six-to-eight weeks with a groin injury, while Shelley is on
injured reserve recovering from hip surgery.

All of which has left the Flyers thin at wing. That doesn’t
even include the prior absences of Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, or Zac
Rinaldo for varying lengths of time, nor does it account for the relative lack
of production from Ruslan Fedotenko or Mike Knuble up to this point.

As for whether Gagne can fill the void in ways that
Fedotenko and Knuble haven’t, or if he’s just another old timer temping for the
cash-strapped Flyers, that remains to be seen. On Wednesday, Tim Panaccio provided
some additional insight
on Homer’s line of thinking, as well as that of the

"Simon is a guy who has a lot
of experience and played in a lot of positions -- penalty kill, power play and
regular shifts,” Holmgren said on a conference call. “He is a good two-way
player that can skate. We think he will add to us a lot.”


Gagne had fallen in disfavor with coach Darryl Sutter because he didn’t finish
his scoring chances and he is not a grinder who can play on a fourth line.
Gagne admitted he felt confused as to just what his role was.

So while Gagne’s best days are almost certainly behind him, the
belief is he could still be effective if utilized properly. Gagne’s zero goals
and five assists in 11 games were apparently a consequence of playing on the
Kings’ fourth line, and he was a healthy scratch in his final days with the

In the end, the Flyers spent a third-round pick at most to
bolster their depth, and in the process acquired a player who might stand to
benefit from familiar surroundings, plus another veteran presence inside the locker
room. And as several observers have noted, the addition of Gagne could give
Holmgren greater flexibility to make a bigger move down the road.

Ultimately how significant the trade is will depend on
Gagne’s own availability. He hasn’t played more than 63 games in a season since
08-09, so his health will be something to monitor. As long as Gagne can stay on
the ice though, there is reason to believe he can help in some capacity.


As for Gagne’s first game in Orange & Black, the Flyers
are back on NBC Sports’ Rivalry Night for the second week in a row, this time
drawing Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. Washington has come on of late, winning back-to-back
games to jump out of sole possession of last place in the Eastern Conference,
and they can scramble out from the bottom of the pile with just one point tonight.

For what it’s worth, the Flyers and Caps are only separated
by six points – with Philadelphia playing three more games already – so they’re
really in no position to overlook any opponent. Puck drops at 7:30 for Rivalry

photo courtesy the Flyers

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Sixers teased in preseason finale with Jahlil Okafor back, Nerlens Noel out

Sixers teased in preseason finale with Jahlil Okafor back, Nerlens Noel out


MIAMI — Jahlil Okafor called it a “tease.”

He was talking about his oh-so-brief 2016-2017 debut, but he could have also been summarizing the Sixers' constant state of taking one step forward and one (injured) leg back.

Okafor, a 6-11 center and the NBA’s third overall pick in the 2015 draft, played 7:32 minutes on Friday and produced four points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover. He had been held out in camp previously because of knee soreness.

His return was the good news for the Sixers.

But before Friday’s 113-110 exhibition finale win over the Miami Heat even started (see Instant Replay), the Sixers announced that center/forward Nerlens Noel will have a “minor surgical procedure in the coming days” on his injured left knee (see story).

Sixers center Joel Embiid, who has missed the past two years because of foot surgeries, empathizes with Noel.

“It’s hard,” Embiid said. “Obviously we need Nerlens if we want to win. But that’s basketball. Things happen. You can’t control injuries.

“I feel bad for him because this is the beginning of the season. Everybody wants to play the beginning of the season. But I’m sure he is going to work hard to come back even stronger.”

On the positive side for the Sixers, there was the return of Okafor … even it felt like baby steps for him.

“I started to feel really good,” said Okafor, who had surgery on his right knee in March and experienced soreness on that same knee Sept. 30. “It was kind of like a tease to me because I really got going. I wanted to continue to play, but that’s why I have the medical staff to keep me disciplined.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown said before the game that he would keep Okafor to just six to eight minutes, and he was true to his word.

Okafor, who made the only shot he attempted from the floor and was 2 for 4 on free throws, did not play in the second half.

“The scoring piece to my game, that’s like riding a bicycle,” Okafor said. “I know I can score the ball. It was good to get back out there with my teammates and hear them cheer for me on the side.”

Okafor said he tried to convince Brown to let him extend past the script of no more than eight minutes.

“He was like, ‘Have your lawyer call my lawyer,'" Okafor said. “We will talk about the season home opener (on Wednesday night against Oklahoma City), and hopefully I can increase my minutes.”

Okafor said he didn’t want to put a number on how many minutes he thought he could’ve played in his season debut except to say he knew he could play more.

Interestingly, Embiid, who had 18 points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes, said he felt Okafor was a bit fatigued.

“I think he was a little bit tired,” Embiid said. “Obviously, he hasn’t played in a while. But just like me, he’s going to dig down. He is a proven scorer. He can do whatever he wants on the court.

“Once he gets back in shape, we as a team are going to be really good.”

Okafor was a minus-5 while he was on the court. But Brown said he was impressed by some of the less-hyped aspects of Okafor’s game.

“I thought he was really good defensively,” Brown said. “He sat in his stance and moved his feet. I thought he did a great job of fronting the post.”

Brown said the Noel injury was almost unfair.

“Clearly, it was a situation in the preseason where he would have played a lot,” Brown said. “The timing is unfortunate.”

Penn routs Yale, 42-7, behind Alek Torgersen's 4 TDs

Penn Athletics

Penn routs Yale, 42-7, behind Alek Torgersen's 4 TDs


NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Alek Torgersen threw four touchdown passes, three to Justin Watson, and Penn rolled to a 42-7 victory over Yale in the first night game in Yale Bowl history.

Torgersen completed 16 of 23 passes for 229 yards and rushed for 66 yards. Watson had 10 receptions for 166 yards with touchdowns covering 5, 41 and 35 yards.

Torgersen moved into a tie for second with 47 career TD passes and Watson moved into fourth in career receptions (161) and touchdowns (17) for the Quakers (4-2, 3-0 Ivy Leauge).

Tre Solomon rushed for 120 yards, seven shy of the career high he set a week earlier, on 15 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown run, for Penn, which won its fourth straight. Cameron Countryman had a 10-yard touchdown reception and Karekin Brooks had a 13-yard run for his first career touchdown.

Penn, which led 35-0 at halftime, finished with 508 yards and held the Bulldogs (1-5, 1-2) to 229.