Craig Berube was caught off guard when asked what he thought about two of the Flyers playing hoops with the Harlem Globetrotters this Sunday at Wells Fargo Center.
“They’re playing basketball?” Berube asked. “What do you mean? I don’t know anything about it.”
Claude Giroux is playing his best hockey of this season. Wayne Simmonds is the Flyers’ top power forward.
“They better tape their ankles up good,” the coach said, after the Flyers practiced to meet the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday.
Last thing Berube needs is one of these guys getting hurt. Giroux slashed his hand playing golf last summer, suffered a neck injury during the lockout … you get the idea.
“We’re just playing a couple minutes,” Giroux assured. “But I do get hurt in weird ways, so I have to be careful.”
Simmonds said he intends to dunk, maybe on on Chris “Handles” Franklin. Giroux is an outside shooter. He’ll try a couple three-pointers.
“I don’t know if I got the skill, but I am gonna try,” Simmonds said. “Be nice to get out there with them. ... I just got to get the ball and go strong to the hoop. Dunk on somebody. That’s my goal. Yeah, I can dunk. Gonna put my Jordan’s on.”
Giroux said he would dish the ball to Simmonds in the paint.
“Hopefully, I can do a little alley-oop for him,” Giroux said. “We’re better at basketball. Wayne is pretty good. He played a lot as a kid. He can jump pretty high.”
Sidenote: the Flyers warm-up before every game in the bowels of the Wells Fargo Center kicking a soccer ball around and then shooting hoops.
“They’re pretty good,” Voracek said of his two teammates.
Simmonds noted that Giroux will need “a step ladder” to dunk.
“He might be able to touch the mesh, but not the rim,” Simmonds said. “I’m a disher and power play. G is the shooter. He’s got the touch.”
Simmonds said Zac Rinaldo was the worst basketball player on the Flyers. Who’s the best?
“G’s pretty good, but he’s not the best,” Simmonds said.
A couple players shouted across the room that Simmonds was the club’s best hoopster.
“I know, but I can’t pump my own tires,” Simmonds said. “I’m probably the best.”
“Handles” Franklin, who played his college ball at Lock Haven University, was in the dressing room teaching Simmonds and Giroux some ball tricks.
The Globetrotters play 250 games a year in 74 countries. They have three games this weekend alone.
“I’ve been watching them warm-up before games and they seem to know what they’re doing,” said Franklin, a seven-year veteran. “They’re talented athletes. They should fit in well. They’re going learn some tricks. They won’t be hat tricks, they will be Globetrotter tricks.”
How bad will the Globetrotters make them look?
“We plan on having a great time,” Franklin said. “One thing is for certain. It’s hard to embarrass Philadelphia stars in Philadelphia. So they’ll look like stars out there.”
Prior to basketball, the Flyers travel to Toronto to meet the Maple Leafs on Saturday at Air Canada Centre. It’s the first time these two teams have met since the season opener in Philadelphia. ... Goalie Cal Heeter will make the trip to Toronto while Ray Emery (groin) remains home. Berube was asked whether he needs to find out something about Heeter during this stretch run. Could he play against New Jersey? “We might, we have to see,” Berube said. Berube said he’d like to see Heeter in an NHL game. The flip side is, the Flyers have just a game Tuesday, then three off days before a home-and-home against Pittsburgh, giving Emery a chance to heal. ... Franklin got the urge to be a Globetrotter he said from watching an episode of Scoobie Doo as a kid. His mentor? Who else but Curly Neal.