The Old NHL, Penn State Hockey, and Your FGSB Mailbag

The Old NHL, Penn State Hockey, and Your FGSB Mailbag

I’ve seen a couple posts this summer that cite how the NHL is getting younger and younger, and I’d like to arm you all with some contrarian ammunition. I’m not even going to go into some deep explanation about it. I’ll let the numbers do the talking:

That's the average age of all NHL players during these 5 seasons. People with statistics degrees and Six Sigma Black Belts will tell you that averages (mean) don’t mean(ha!) anything, and that this data requires more in-depth analysis. But for us, people who have eaten part of a sandwich off of their clothes at some point this summer, the average will do just fine. But if you want to push the issue, the median has gone like this over the same period: 25>24>25>26>26. So there’s that too.

An argument that might hold some water is that there are more Young Bucks (20 & under) playing in the NHL than 10 years ago. That’s true, both on a gross aggregate comparison and a Young Buck per Team comparison:

But that's a very short-term view. As you can see, while the figure is higher since 2003 it’s still actually lower than any other point since 1973. Apparently GMs were pedos in the '80's.

Another argument that holds a thimble of water is that there are now more Young Bucks on any given team than the very scientific category of Old Fart (35+):

As you can see in this case, Old Farts were apparently dependent on the clutch and grab style of the late 90’s/early 2000’s because that was the only time that they actually outweighed the Young Bucks, and by more than 80%.

So all-in-all, the league is older than it’s ever been, and that makes sense. Advances in training, health and science will benefit old dudes just as much (if not more I’d argue) young dudes. There’s exponentially more money to be made by playing longer. Teams are more cognizant of rushing young players into the league because we’re America (and Canada) and run by bike helmet wearing pansies and ever since the Sopranos aired it’s OK for men to have feelings.

I do think that marketing is focused on younger guys like it never has been before, but that’s because the answer to 99 out of 100 questions is “money.” Ten, twenty, thirty years ago you marketed the guys who had already achieved, not the next big thing. But today there’s waaaayy more cash to be made by building a brand. Kimmo Timonen is by far the best Flyers defensemen but if I’m looking for a sponsor for Crazy Darryl’s Pumpkin Sweater Autumn Cheesesteak IPA I’m going with Luke Schenn because…kids and shit. Ya know?

Enough numbers, time for The FGSB Mailbag!

Shane W: How bad is Penn State Hockey going to get spanked this season?
Penn State’s move to The Big Ten is quite a big deal, especially for their hockey team, which I’m sure everyone knows went D1 last year. Their first year in D1 they were independent and actually didn’t do too badly for a really young team. On the official roster there were 14 freshman, 6 sophomores, and 7 juniors. Hey, you when go from club team to the big leagues that transition is going to take some time. With this young team they took down some big clubs in Wisconsin, Vermont, and Michigan State. The realignment has everyone saying they’re going to get whooped up on. On paper it looks like it, but I’m not so sure.

Penn State’s new conference is made up of them, obviously, and Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State. Those are some perennial power houses in the college hockey world, but Penn State is looking to be better than last year. They have their first ever NHL draft picks joining the program this season, and as you can see above have already done surprisingly decent with the guys that are ALL coming back this year (they went 13-14 last season).

I think they'll probably be about .500 again this season but the real question for me is how long until we see at Rutgers have a D1 hockey team? Is Philly going to become a college hockey town? How long until we see the D1 Florida vs. Florida State hockey match??

Rick D: How dirty is JVR going to play for the US this winter?
Headlines, man. I actually remember watching him not do much in his last WJC, but back then he was Flyers property and therefore cursed. This Olympics JVR will have 14 goals, 2 assists and lead the US to the gold. Luke Schenn will ‘go to Vegas with the boys’ and lose $11k at the blackjack table before getting stuck with a $8k bill at some club I don’t know the name of.

Pete Z: Fantasy Football has me thinking about Fantasy Hockey…is it wrong to have Crosby ranked number one in my draft?
Fantasy sports are a great example of how we don’t actually care about anything but ourselves. Allegiances are betrayed daily and we end up rooting for players and teams that we previously despised. I would definitely be PUMPED to get Sid the Middle Aged Kid in my draft. He’s flipping good. If he stays healthy he’s at a point in his career, especially seeming to have Magelled with Kunitz and Dewpus, that he might be able to put up 120 to 140 points. Of course I’d go through all the motions of pretending that I reluctantly root for him and root against him when he plays the Flyers, but when he lights up Steve Mason for 4 goals I’m still going to rub it in Fran’s face because in the end, nothing matters as much as me.

@tholzerman: Do you think the Flyers' inability to replace Dave Babych's mustache has kept them from being able to win the Cup?
For that reason I’m honestly surprised that Holmgren didn’t go after George Parros this off-season. A useless player with great character (and mustache) at almost $1M? That’s right in our wheelhouse. Florida probably wanted something like a 7th rounder and we would only give up a 2nd.

Alec Asher lone bright spot as Phillies continue to limp to finish with another loss to Mets

Alec Asher lone bright spot as Phillies continue to limp to finish with another loss to Mets

The Phillies returned home from a bad road trip Friday with only three games to play and the only thing to play for being the role of spoilers.

With the New York Mets in town looking to put a stranglehold on a wildcard spot, the Phillies, as another losing season finishes out, could be a thorn in the side of their rivals.

Alec Asher looked like he was playing the part of spoiler, retiring the first 11 batters he faced, but the Mets rallied, got behind starter Robert Gsellman, and turned back any Phillies sabotaging on this night, beating the home team, 5-1.

The two teams are heading in quite opposite directions.

The Mets, with their win, clinched at least a tiebreaker in the wildcard and guaranteed their season not ending on Sunday, the league’s final regular season date.

The Phillies on the other hand… 

“We’re certainly limping home,” said manager Pete Mackanin an hour or so after being ejected for the first time this year. “Not playing well, not swinging the bats very well.”

They struck out 14 times Friday night. And after scraping a run across in the second inning, never really looked like they were in the game at the plate.

Mackanin's ejection came in the eighth inning. Mackanin wasn’t happy with first base umpire Will Little and was thrown out of a game. Reliever Michael Mariot threw a fastball in on Yoenis Cespedes and Cespedes appeared to lose control of the bat through the strike zone. When appealed to, Little ruled Cespedes did not swing, and out came Mackanin.

"I had to get thrown out there," Mackanin said.

Perhaps he just couldn't stand to watch anymore. 

Gsellman battled through some early struggles and stymied the Phillies’ offense. Gsellman turned in six innings of one-run baseball, improving to 4-2 on the year. He allowed one run on seven hits and struck out seven.

Asher, in his last start of 2016, was the lone bright spot on this night.

With two outs in the fourth, his brief perfect game bid was ended with a single from Yoenis Cespedes. That was followed by another from Curtis Granderson. 

Jay Bruce then worked a full count but Asher couldn’t put him away. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Bruce singled home Cespedes to tie the score. 

A fourth consecutive single, this time off the bat of T.J. Rivera, allowed Granderson to cross the plate for a 2-1 Mets lead.

Asher’s night and season ended with a Bruce home run - his third in as many games - to lead off the top of the seventh.

“I wanted to go sinker away and just kind of got it mid-thigh belt,” Asher said. “He took advantage of the mistake.”

Asher, 24, went six-plus innings Friday, throwing 104 pitches while allowing three runs on five hits. He struck out four and walked zero.

His 2016 finishes with a 2.28 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 27 ⅔ innings pitched. He struck out 13 and walked four.

“Last year when Asher was here I recall being asked if it was a smart thing to do because he got rocked so badly,” Mackanin said. “We talked about if and when he did get back to the big leagues if he would be able to handle it. What kind of make up he had. Certainly he made an adjustment. Added a two-seam fastball which he never had. Has a plus changeup. He needs a little more work on his breaking ball, but nevertheless he’s pitched well since he’s been back. He’s done a good job.”

The Phillies bullpen hasn’t lately.

Mariot, in relief of Asher, gave up two runs in 1 ⅔ innings of relief, including Bruce’s third RBI of the night to give the Mets a 5-1 lead.

The Phillies offense then went quietly into the fall night. The Mets didn’t allow a hit from the final 12 Phillies hitters.

Their season will continue beyond Sunday.

“It’s step one of a bigger accomplishment,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “We’re certainly pleased we get to play past Sunday.”

The Phillies are just limping.

Orthopedist on Ben Simmons' injury: 'The prognosis is good'

Orthopedist on Ben Simmons' injury: 'The prognosis is good'

On Friday, Sixers fans got some bad news when the team revealed that No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

The Sixers didn't give a timetable for his return, saying that they were reviewing treatment options for the 6-foot-10 point-forward.

As a guest on CSNPhilly's Sportsnet Central, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Schwartz gave a little insight into Simmons' injury. Schwartz is not treating Simmons, but has dealt with similar injuries. Schwartz believes the prognosis is good for the Sixers' rookie.

"The big question is where the exact location of this fracture is," Schwartz said. "That will dictate the prognosis and the treatment. If it's at the base of the fifth metatarsal, it's usually a non-surgical treatment. It's usually a cast/boot for six to eight weeks and return to play somewhere around eight weeks."

That would be great news considering Sixers fans didn't get to see Nerlens Noel the year he was drafted and are still awaiting the debut of 2014 draft pick Joel Embiid. 

Schwartz warns that the injury could be something known as a Jones fracture, which would likely require surgery and the recovery could be three to four months. The prognosis would still be good, according to Schwartz, but other NBA players have had lengthy recoveries with a similar injury.

"The prognosis is still good, but we know that Kevin Durant had a Jones fracture and he was out for an entire season because of it not healing," Schwartz said. "But the prognosis is good, however, the question is whether it's going to require surgery or not."

For more from Schwartz on Simmons' injury and possible timetable, check out the video above.