The Top-10 bad Holmgren moves that aren't trading Richards, Carter

The Top-10 bad Holmgren moves that aren't trading Richards, Carter

Since Paul Holmgren replaced Bob Clarke as general manager of the Flyers in late 2006, life hasn’t been dull for the Orange and Black. If being general manager is to gamble, Holmgren is a whale. He wheels and deals aggressively and with little regard for the future, the feelings of his players or his own appearance as a manager.

Despite this strategy, he's won his fair share of deals like trading Alexei Zhitnik for Braydon Coburn, picking up Sergei Bobrovsky out of nowhere and landing Matt Read off the college waiver wire. But like most gamblers, he’s lost even more.

Here are the Top-10 head-scratching Holmgren moves that aren’t trading Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

10. Signing Bruno Gervais for two years, $1.65m

Looking for a depth defender to start the 2012-13 NHL season, Holmgren tapped mobile unrestricted free agent Gervais to play the part. Best good friends with Max Talbot, the move made mild sense.

That is until Holmgren gave Gervais a two-year deal. Yes, Holmgren gave a fringe NHLer, who was also getting the proverbial signing bonus by playing with his childhood best friend, an extra year for no reason at all. Gervais wouldn’t be able to enjoy the second year though, as he is currently playing for the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL after the Flyers realized he wasn’t very good.

This signing serves as the perfect example of how Holmgren does business.

9. Signing Jody Shelley for three-years, $3.3m

Why would any reasonable general manager spend $3.3 million ($1.1m per season) and three years locked into a 34-year-old enforcer? Why would anyone spend more than the veteran minimum on any enforcer ever? Go back to 2010 and ask Holmgren.

Shelley played just 89 games over three seasons and acted as a well-liked salary cap albatross over that span.

8. Signing Kimmo Timonen for One Year, $6m

It’s like Holmgren forgot that players age. Despite Timonen turning 38 at the time and slowed by a chronic bad back, Holmgren signed his prized disintegrating defender to one-year deal for a whopping $6 million.

Timonen, whose options were to play for the Flyers or retire, has no points in eight games and has already left the club’s latest game with a lower-body injury. Even without the fatigue of a grueling 82-game season he looks slow and seems to be playing to his age, not his paycheck.

7. Signing Mark Streit for Four Years, $21m

Once again, Holmgren spends a draft pick for the right to grossly overpay a player.

Not only did he give the New York Islanders AHL forward Shane Harper and a fourth round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, but he delivered the 35-year-old Streit a ridiculous four-year deal worth $21 million, which will keep him on the Flyers’ books until he’s 39. The aging power play specialist, who has been designated the team’s fifth defenseman in terms of ice time and rolled out on the second power play unit, is a major reason why the future of the Flyers seems so bleak and in such a precarious financial position.

6. Not firing coach Peter Laviolette after the 2012-13 season, only to fire him three games into the 2013-14 season.

Holmgren must love criticism because his knack for it is uncanny. Instead of making the headstrong move to fire Laviolette following the Flyers’ 23-22-3 playoff miss last season, which would have been a perfectly understandable management move, he waited until three games into the 2013-14 season.

The transaction embarrassed Laviolette and the Flyers while also putting new coach Craig Berube in a hole. Instead give his new coach a training camp and pre-season to work out the kinks, Berube was thrown into the river and forced to swim upstream, giving the Flyers even less hope of successful season.

5. Trading Scottie Upshall and a Second Round Pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft for Dan Carcillo

It’s bad enough that Holmgren thought Dan Carcillo was more than your average undersized energy brawler but he moved reasonably-priced depth scoring Upshall for him and about $900k of cap space.

Making matters worse, cap-strapped Paul actually threw the Phoenix Coyotes a second-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft for the privilege of that limited cap space. The pick ended up being winger Lucas Lessio, who is currently on the Coyotes roster and averaging 11 minutes per night.

4. Trading Sergei Bobrovsky to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a Second Round Pick and Fourth Round Pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and a Fourth Round Pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft

At the time, the move wasn’t viewed as a complete loss for the Flyers as they received promising young keeper Anthony Stolarz. But after Bobrovsky upgraded his game (as young, talented players do) and won the Vezina Trophy with the Blue Jackets, it was the clear the Flyers may have failed to properly evaluate his ability.

And while hindsight on players is always clear, this mistake was on a Patrick Sharp-level of misjudgment for Holmgren and the Flyers, who apparently wouldn’t know a good goaltender if it fell into their laps from Novokuznetsk.

3. Trading a Third-Round Pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft for the rights to sign Ilya Bryzgalov for nine-years, $51m, then buying him out.

Aiming for a legitimate starting goaltender was an honorable feat for an organization embarrassed by its ongoing goaltending woes. But in typical Flyers’ style, it turned into one of the most memorable Holmgren messes in recent team history.

Apparently, Holmgren believed that $51 million and nine years wouldn’t be enough to land 30-year-old Bryzgalov on the open market. So naturally, the GM tossed the Coyotes a free third-round pick for the right to offer the weirdo goalie a ridiculous amount of money.

The organization then quickly discovered that Bryzgalov was not only a loud mouth and disturbance but a pretty average goaltender when not locked into Coyotes’ coach Dave Tippett’s defensive system. Just two years into his nine-year deal, Holmgren erased his mistake with a massive buyout.

2. Trading James van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Luke Schenn

The oft-injured, inconsistent but highly-talented van Riemsdyk was just 23 years old. He never fully endeared himself to Holmgren and the Flyers, which provided little doubt that the former second-overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry draft would be eventually traded for defensive help.

In yet another case of Holmgren undervaluing his own player and overvaluing someone else, he moved JVR straight up for Schenn -- an underwhelming former fifth overall pick, who was slow, physical and little else.

Schenn is currently playing as the Flyers’ sixth defender and averaging just over 15 minutes per night, while JVR has become a first-line threat, scoring 38 points in 55 games.

1. Trading the 27th Overall Selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft for Steve Eminger and Jacob Deserres

It’s a move that often goes overlooked in the pantheon of Holmgren mistakes but could be his most egregious in terms of how it’s hampered today’s Flyers team. Whether the club didn’t value the 27th pick that year or simply overvalued Eminger as a full time NHL defenseman, the aggressive move turned into a massive mistake for the Flyers and a big reason for their current defensive roster problems.

And here’s the Holmgren kicker -- as a restricted free agent, Eminger wasn’t even signed at the time.

The 27th pick ended up being big defenseman John Carlson, who, at just 23 years old, has already played three full seasons on the Capitals’ blue line and is currently the team’s No. 2 defensemen in terms of ice time.

Don’t like Carlson? OK. Florida Panthers goaltender Jacob Markstrom and Stanley Cup-winning LA Kings defenseman Slava Voynov went No. 31 and No. 32. St. Louis Blues up-and-coming goalie Jake Allen went 34th, while Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and Edmonton Oilers blue-liner Justin Schultz went No. 38 and No. 43. Don’t count out New York Rangers center Derek Stepan or New York Islanders defense Travis Hamonic, who also went late in the second round.

Ouch.

NHL Playoffs: Sharks win to reach 1st Stanley Cup Final

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NHL Playoffs: Sharks win to reach 1st Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- After 25 years, the San Jose Sharks will finally play for the Stanley Cup.

Captain Joe Pavelski scored an early goal, Joel Ward added two of his own and the Sharks advanced to their first Stanley Cup final in franchise history by beating the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on Wednesday night in Game 6 of the Western Conference final.

Joonas Donskoi also scored, Logan Couture had an empty-netter and Martin Jones made 24 saves as a Sharks team notorious for postseason letdowns will now play for the championship that has eluded stars such as Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau for so many years.

Thornton assisted on Pavelski's goal less than four minutes into the game to set the tone and Marleau had two assists in the third period that set off chants of "We Want The Cup! We Want The Cup!"

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final will be Monday night. The Sharks will either host Tampa Bay or visit Pittsburgh, depending on which team wins Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

With the loss, the Blues' postseason woes continue as the franchise still seeks its first championship and first trip to the Cup final since 1970. Coach Ken Hitchcock's second goalie change of the series did not work as Brian Elliott allowed four goals on 26 shots in his return to the net.

Vladimir Tarasenko, a 40-goal scorer in the regular season, got his first points of the series when he scored twice in the third period but it was too late for the Blues, who still trailed 4-2.

Despite making the playoffs 16 times in 18 seasons and winning the second most games in the NHL since the start of the 2003-04 season, the Sharks have been known for their soul-crushing playoff disappointments.

They won just three games in three previous trips to the conference final, were knocked out twice in four seasons by an eighth seed and most notably blew a 3-0 series lead to lose in the first round to Los Angeles in 2014.

The impact of that loss lasted for an entire year as San Jose missed the playoffs entirely last season. But led by first-year coach Peter DeBoer and bolstered by some key acquisitions by general manager Doug Wilson, the Sharks recovered this year and are now only four wins away from a championship.

This was the first time in San Jose's history that the team played with a trip to the Stanley Cup final on the line. The atmosphere in the Shark Tank reflected the high stakes with the fans at a frenzy during pregame introductions and the "Let's Go Sharks!" chants starting soon after the puck dropped.

The Sharks fed off that energy and were buzzing early as Hitchcock predicted before the game. St. Louis nearly silenced the crowd when Alexander Steen got a chance in the slot early in the period but Jones robbed him with a glove save.

That led to a breakaway for Thornton, who missed the net on his chance. But Pavelski recovered the puck behind the net and before Elliott knew what was happening, Pavelski tucked the puck in on a wraparound for his NHL-leading 13th goal of the playoffs.

San Jose added to the lead early in the second when Ward tipped a point shot from Brent Burns past Elliott to make it 2-0.

The Sharks had a chance to add to it when Scottie Upshall was called for a four-minute high-sticking penalty. But the Blues managed to kill San Jose's potent power play and started to take over the play after that. They couldn't get a goal the rest of the period, however, as San Jose kept them mostly to the outside and Jones made a great pad save against Jori Lehtera.

Ward's second goal and another by Donskoi in the third period removed any drama and allowed the fans to celebrate.

Notes
Marleau played his 165th career playoff game, the most ever for someone who never played in the finals. Thornton is next on the list with 150 games, followed by Curtis Joseph with 133. ... The only franchise that has played longer than San Jose without going to a Cup final is Arizona, which began NHL play as the Winnipeg Jets in 1979-80.

NBA Playoffs: Cavs respond to destroy Raptors in Game 5

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NBA Playoffs: Cavs respond to destroy Raptors in Game 5

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- Back home, the Cavaliers were not hospitable.

They rudely roughed up the Raptors again.

LeBron James scored 23 points then sat the fourth quarter, Kevin Love scored 25, and Cleveland unleashed tenacious defense on Toronto to regain control of the Eastern Conference finals with a 116-78 rout of the Raptors in Game 5 on Wednesday night.

On their court in front of 20,000-plus screaming fans following two straight losses in Canada, the Cavs opened a 34-point lead in the first half and never slowed while taking a 3-2 series lead.

They can clinch their second straight conference title and trip to the NBA Finals with a win in Game 6 on Friday night in Toronto.

"We ought to be able to transfer that on Friday," James said. "Playing in that beast of an arena that we're going to we got to be composed, we got to be tough and we got to be sharp."

The Raptors, who came in with momentum and confidence after winning Games 3 and 4, left Quicken Loans Arena shaken and one loss from having their deepest playoff run stopped.

"They kicked our butts, bottom line," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "That's been all three ballgames."

James had eight assists and six rebounds in 31 minutes before checking out late in the third quarter with the Cavs up 37. He spent the fourth quarter resting on the bench while Cleveland's reserves finished the romp.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points and he, James and Love outscored the Raptors 43-34 in the first half. Cleveland has won its three games in the series by a combined 88 points.

"They are a different team here," Casey said. "We came in here with a chance to do something special and we didn't get it done. They pushed us around and took what they wanted."

DeMar DeRozan scored 14 points and Kyle Lowry had 13 for the Raptors, who were overwhelmed from the start. Bismack Biyombo had just four rebounds after getting 40 the past two games. The only positive for Toronto was center Jonas Valanciunas, who returned after missing eight straight games with a sprained right ankle. He scored nine points in 18 minutes.

Playing defense as if every possession was the game's last, Cleveland held Toronto to 34 points in the opening half while building a 31-point halftime lead -- the largest in conference finals history. Since their expansion arrival in 1993, the Raptors had never been down by 30 before in any game -- regular or postseason -- at halftime but they have rarely seen a defense like this either.

The Cavs were all over the court, swarming and stifling DeRozan and Lowry, who combined for 67 points in Game 4.

A courtside doctor might have stopped this one in the first half.

Love found his shooting touch after it went missing during the lost weekend in Toronto, where he went just 5 of 23 and was benched for the fourth quarter of Game 4. He finished 8 of 10 from the field, a confidence-boosting performance that should temporarily quiet his critics.

"Kevin Love being Kevin Love," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "He had two bad shooting games and we made a big deal out of it. Nothing he does amazes me. We gotta keep him aggressive all the time."

The Cavs made a point of getting Love the ball right away and he responded by making all four field goal attempts, dropping a 3 late in the first quarter that pushed the Cavs to a 37-19 lead.

"He was just locked in," James said. "We saw that and just wanted to keep giving him the ball. The easiest one he had tonight, he missed."

Cleveland's onslaught continued in the second quarter, and when James got free for an easy two-handed dunk, Cavs fans could relax and begin making TV viewing plans for Friday.

These looked more like the Cavaliers who opened the postseason with 10 straight wins, obliterated the Raptors by a combined 50 points in Games 1 and 2 and given a chance to beat whomever survived in the West.

Center of attention
Valanciunas hadn't played since May 7. He scored two quick baskets in the first quarter when the Raptors were still close.

Tip-ins
Raptors: Dropped to 2-7 on the road in this postseason. ... Played a game every other day since April 29, going 7-7. . Biyombo and Valanciunas are the only teammates with at least 120 rebounds this postseason.

Cavaliers: Trumped their 31-point win in Game 1, which was the previous most lopsided playoff victory in team history. ... James played in his 191st career postseason game, moving him ahead of Magic Johnson for 12th place on the all-time list. ... James (1,320) is tied with Kobe Bryant (1,320) for the second-most free throws in postseason history. Michael Jordan made 1,463. ... Improved to 7-0 at home in these playoffs.

Up next
Game 6 is Friday night in Toronto.

Best of MLB: Walk-off single gives Giants 13th win in last 14 games

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Best of MLB: Walk-off single gives Giants 13th win in last 14 games

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Crawford singled in Matt Duffy with two outs in the 10th inning, and the surging San Francisco Giants beat the San Diego Padres 4-3 Wednesday for their 13th win in 14 games.

Duffy singled off Brad Hand (1-2) with one out, pinch-hitter Hunter Pence popped out, Duffy advanced on a wild pitch and Crawford hit a 1-2 offering over center fielder Jon Jay as Duffy scored standing up.

Crawford also singled and scored after some alert baserunning in the second inning. Duffy and Denard Span drove in runs for the NL West-leading Giants.

San Francisco completed a three-game sweep, extended its winning streak to five and improved to 9-0 against the Padres this season. The Giants' two walkoff wins in the series were against Hand (see full recap).

Arrieta moves to 9-0 in Cubs' win over Cards
ST. LOUIS -- Jake Arrieta remained unbeaten on the season despite allowing as many as four runs for the first time in nearly a year and the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-8 on Wednesday.

Arrieta (9-0) joined the White Sox's Chris Sale as the only nine-game winners in the majors.

Arrieta allowed four runs in a regular-season game for the first time since June 16, 2015.

Arrieta became the first Cub to win his first nine decisions since Kenny Holtzman in 1967 and it is the best start to a season for the franchise since Jim McCormick went 16-0 in 1886.

Kris Bryant hit a three-run homer and Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist each drove in two for the Cubs (see full recap).

Bradley extends hit streak to 29 in BoSox victory
BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his major league-best hitting streak to 29 games, Xander Bogaerts homered to extend his hitting streak to 18 games and the Boston Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies 10-3 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight win.

Travis Shaw had three RBIs and Boston moved to a season-best 12 games over .500. The Red Sox have scored eight or more runs 10 times in their last 14 home games.

Steven Wright (4-4) had another solid outing, giving up three runs, two earned. He has now given up three runs or fewer in eight of his nine starts.

Chad Bettis (4-3) held the Red Sox scoreless through three innings but was responsible for seven runs over the next two innings before getting pulled.

The Rockies have lost six of their last seven -- all on the road (see full recap).