Snider Gets His Way: Red Wings Here to Help Celebrate Mark Howe's Number Retirement

Snider Gets His Way: Red Wings Here to Help Celebrate Mark Howe's Number Retirement

Often, when a team or a school has a special event planned around a
sporting event, they'll try to schedule a cupcake or at least non-elite
matchup, so as to maximize the potential for an all-around good
experience for everyone on the home side. You don't schedule the best
team in the league for homecoming weekend, if possible. However, after
deciding to retire Mark Howe's number 2 fixated immediately on March 6,
2012, the evening the Flyers would be playing the team Howe played for
after his days in Philly. The Red Wings are of course more than just a
stop on Howe's career journey. They're the club for whom is father was a
legend of the game, as well as Mark's current employer.

And, they're a perennial Cup contender, currently just one point
behind Vancouver for the top spot in the Western Conference. But Ed
Snider wanted this to be the matchup when Howe's number went up, and as
is often the case, he got what he wanted despite initially being told
no. By the NHL…

Bill Roose of TheWheelDeal blog on Detroit's NHL.com page relays the story as told by Howe:

But next Tuesday’s ceremony was nearly nixed by the league, which
apparently prohibits pre-game events on the ice once the calendar flips
to March.

“Ed told me that the league told him ‘no’, but they
really wanted to do this with the Red Wings in town,” said Howe, the
Wings’ director of pro scouting.

As a courtesy, the Flyers put in a call to the Wings’ front office
just to double-check if they were OK with honoring the former player,
which they both share in common.

Of course, the Wings didn’t have
any objection to seeing history when Gordie and Mark Howe becomes just
the second father-son tandem in any professional sport to both have
their numbers retired. Bobby and Brett Hull were the first father and
son to have their jersey numbers retired.

Damn nice of all sides to get the event scheduled for the ideal matchup.

Now, the matchup itself…

Detroit
boasts the fourth most goals scored per game, but also the fourth best
goals against mark. Their power play and penalty kill each come in at
15th in the league. Pretty consistent, huh?

However, they're currently struggling a bit despite winning two of
their last three. Pulling back further, they've actually lost four of
six, including three in a row from February 21-25. Of course, if those
are your "struggles," your season is going fairly well. The losses came
to Chicago, who is hot as a pistol, Vancouver, and Colorado. And, the
minor skid comes off the heels of a six-game winning streak that
includes the Flyers' visit to Detroit in mid-February.

Injuries are currently an issue though, with goalie Jimmy Howard out
somewhat indefinitely while Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Lidstrom, Jonathan
Ericsson, and Jakub Kindl all missing time lately. Datsyuk is the team's
leading scorer, Lidstrom its captain and best defenseman, and Ericsson
and Kindl are both defensemen as well. We don't currently have an update
on the latter two, but Datsyuk and Lidstrom are said to be out, per the
team's official twitter account.

That's a considerable break for the Flyers to catch, but there's
still 60 minutes to be played tonight, and the remaining Red Wings are
plenty capable of taking advantage of a team that comes out of the
tunnel thinking they're damaged.

The Flyers have had some well-documented trouble getting out of the
starting gate lately, an embarrassing streak that was finally snapped
against the Capitals on Sunday. But tonight's late start (puck drop is
closer to 7:30) due to the Howe ceremony could wrench them up a bit.

Bryz is back in net tonight, where we're likely to see him far more
often than not the rest of the way. He's responded well to getting
consecutive starts.

For out of towners, the Howe ceremony will be viewable at CSNPhilly.com. In pre-game skate, the Flyers will all wear a #2 Howe jersey with a special patch. photo by the Flyers

Cold can't keep Joel Embiid away from first Sixers practice

Cold can't keep Joel Embiid away from first Sixers practice

STOCKTON, N.J. — Joel Embiid awoke Tuesday morning and was still feeling ill from a cold and virus he has been battling since last Friday. He had been coughing, experiencing a bloody nose and even vomiting, but all those symptoms could not stop him from a day he has been eyeing for over two years: his first NBA practice.

Embiid had stayed back in Philadelphia on Monday night while the Sixers traveled to training camp at Stockton University in South Jersey. On Tuesday, he decided to leave the city and join the team on campus.

“I woke up this morning and I was like, ‘I waited too long for this time, so I’ve got to go and try to do some work in there,’” Embiid said.

Embiid had been sidelined by foot injuries since the Sixers drafted him third overall in 2014. Tuesday marked his first NBA practice, and he is eyeing his first preseason game next Tuesday against the Celtics.

Embiid was not expected to be part of training camp Tuesday because of his illness. He surprised the team when he arrived while practice was underway. The Sixers' medical staff cleared him before he took the court.

“He forced himself into practice today,” head coach Brett Brown said. “He said, ‘I feel good, I want to go.’ With the time that he has put in the last few years, he meant it. You respected that instruction.”

Embiid is following a minutes restriction during training camp, which currently is 25 minutes for the morning session and 20 minutes for the evening session. His previous physical restrictions have been lifted and the team is monitoring him for workload and time on the court.

“I step back and figure out how do I want to spend my money?” Brown said. “If we’ve got X amount of time, where do I feel like he can make the most improvement? Where do I feel like he’s going to have the best chance to get on the court and play minutes, as we expect against the Celtics?”

Tuesday morning’s session focused on the defensive end. While Embiid had trouble breathing at points and tired quickly, he made an effort to give 100 percent on the court. The only lags in Embiid’s game Brown noticed were attributed to his illness, not because of his foot.

“I don’t think he’s missed a beat from a great month of September,” Brown said.

The Sixers sensed the enthusiasm from Embiid. Regardless of his restrictions, his energy was felt among the team.

“When he did get in, he played well,” Ben Simmons said. “He’s a big inside presence. He got a lot of boards and crashed the offensive glass.”

Added Jahlil Okafor: "He’s excited to be here. Obviously, he’s had a couple tough years with his injuries that he couldn’t control. But he’s finally here and he’s taking advantage of that."

The Sixers will hold training camp through Friday at Stockton University. Embiid is looking to push past any symptoms to be on the court as much as he can.

Nerlens Noel's complaints only damage Sixers' trade leverage

Nerlens Noel's complaints only damage Sixers' trade leverage

Silence is golden.

It's a phrase uttered often by parents and teachers. It can also be an effective phrase when dealing with negotiations.

I'm not revealing a big secret by saying the Sixers have a logjam in their frontcourt. At some point, something has to give.

Nerlens Noel, a key component of the aforementioned logjam, doubled down on his quotes from over the weekend about the Sixers' "silly" frontcourt situation.

"I don't see a way it can work," Noel said on Monday. "It's just a logjam. You have three young, talented centers that can play 30-plus minutes a night."

Uh-oh.

Bryan Colangelo acknowledged that teams have been trying to "poach" a big man off him. He's been adamant in saying that he's not shopping any of his bigs. For leverage purposes, that's wise.

Any leverage Colangelo may have accrued through his media tour this summer took a hit. With the health of Joel Embiid still a question mark, it's important that the Sixers take a wait-and-see approach to their situation. Noel may have just put a damper on that plan.

I'm not advocating for the trade of Noel and keeping Jahlil Okafor. In fact, I've said that if Embiid proves he's healthy, I'd move both Noel and Okafor if the value was appropriate.

There can be arguments made for keeping Noel over the other two centers. His athleticism and rim protection skills fit Brett Brown's system and the way the NBA is trending. And it's important to note that Noel isn't wrong. It won't benefit him to take a cut in minutes. It won't help Okafor either. It's not the most pleasant situation to be sure. He has every right to be unhappy, but getting the media involved doesn't benefit Noel or the Sixers.

Anyone in any job should have the right to speak out if they feel they're being slighted, but sometimes you have to "play the game." If Noel were a poker player, he just revealed his hand. He should've shown up, said the right things and allowed Colangelo to negotiate a deal.

The best parallel is what the Eagles and Sam Bradford went through this offseason. Bradford was unhappy the Eagles traded valuable draft picks to acquire Carson Wentz. Understandable, but when he threw his rattle down and sat out part of camp, it helped nobody. The Broncos tried to lowball Howie Roseman, figuring Roseman had no leverage with Bradford's intent to get traded out of town. Roseman stood his ground and the Eagles were able to hold the Vikings hostage when Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending knee injury.

It's not something you hope for by any means, but these things happen. Players get hurt and teams are left scrambling to find a replacement. Take a look at the Chris Bosh situation with the Miami Heat. Bosh, who's had a tremendous career, will likely never play again because of issues with blood clots. The Heat are likely not a match for the Sixers given defensive-minded center Hassan Whiteside's new contract, but the point is that you never know what will happen between now and opening night.

For Bradford, it was resolved just a week before the season started. If Noel follows suit with Bradford, perhaps there will be a similar solution.

"Things need to get situated," Noel said. "I think things obviously need to be moved around, someone needs to be moved around. It's just a tough situation. I can't really say too much because I have no say in the matter, so obviously that's for who can handle the situation in the right manner."

Well, Nerlens, you said too much already.