Peter Nowak Is Suing the Union...

Peter Nowak Is Suing the Union...

You'd be hard-pressed to find a Philadelphia Union fan who wasn't happy when the first manager of the club, Peter Nowak, was fired in June. Through a series of unpopular trades of popular players who let their frustrations be known on their way out the door alongside a precipitous drop in the club's play, fans booed Nowak when introduced at home games in just the team's third season of existence. Coupled with last-place results on the field and rumors Nowak was shopping himself to a Scottish club, and others of dissent in the locker room, Nowak's firing seemed appropriate and welcome to many of us.

But when lengthy employment contracts are signed by both parties, there's more to "cause" than meets the eye, and it appears a judge will need to decide whether the Union terminated and compensated Nowak according to the points spelled out in his contract. According to documents obtained and shared in summary by Jonathan Tannenwald of Philly.com's The Goalkeeper blog, Nowak is suing the Union's ownership group over the nature of his termination and matters regarding unpaid severance money.

While heavy in legalese, it's an interesting read for Union fans, law hawks, and those who enjoy a good airing of other people's business.

Detailed in the report are the specifics of Nowak's contract, from annual salaries to flight and hotel accommodations and car allowances, the Union's detailed reasons for firing Nowak, as well as the apparent disagreements over the severance arrangement.

After the Nowak firing, the Union moved on quickly and effectively, with former Nowak assistant John Hackworth taking on the interim job, stabilizing a listing ship and immediately getting better results on the field and in public perception. Quickly regaining the confidence of a savvy and vocal fanbase is not something to be underestimated in a league like the MLS, if anywhere. But the Union have a different kind of fight on their hands now, one in which the adage of winning games solving all problems doesn't apply.

We won't attempt to provide legal detail or promote uninformed discussion (any lawyerly readers can feel free to chime in of course), but in our limited understanding, the case is not as simple as it might seem on the surface to us fans (ie, a coach losing control of his team, possibly violating its rules or at least falling short of its expectations, being viewed as a dictator with decreasing efficacy, and being fired). We're used to seeing coaches sacked for less, and we're not accustomed to these firings resulting in lawsuits. But that doesn't get into the legal definitions of "with cause," nor the specific agreements that were in place between manager and club regarding the use of that term and its implications on severance.

I'm told that Nowak's representation, Cliff Haines, is a tough and effective litigator, to say the least. Hopefully a quick settlement of some kind can be arranged, but the sides may be in for a public and nasty battle.

The timing of the suit's filing is also unfortunate given the MLS All-Star festivities and a very busy week at the stadium complex. In addition to All-Star week being held at PPL Park, the announcement of the suit comes in the wake of the city of Chester claiming that the Union are not current in their annual $500,000 payments in lieu of property taxes for stadium, discussed last week in the Daily News. It should be noted that both the team and the city have indicated they are working together to resolve the issue, which also involves proposed new taxes on the team.

Just three years into existence, the Union are facing a possible two-front battle involving their home city and their first manager. Not to mention a steep climb in the standings… At least in the possible battle with Nowak, they'll likely have public opinion on their side.  

Visit The Goalkeeper for the full report and links to the legal documentation.

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

ap-temple.jpg
The Associated Press

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

After winning its first American Athletic Conference championship Saturday, Temple learned its postseason fate Sunday and it does not involve a New Year's Six bowl game.

The Owls will play Wake Forest in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Maryland. Temple also finished No. 24 in the final College Football Playoff rankings and No. 23 in the AP poll.

At 10-3, Temple has its first back-to-back 10-win season in program history. It's also the first time the Owls have been ranked in consecutive seasons. Head coach Matt Rhule now has 28 wins as Temple's head coach, tying him with Bruce Arians' for the sixth-most in school history.

Wake Forest finished the season 6-6 and on a three-game losing streak, but two of those three loses came to No. 2 Clemson and No. 13 Louisville. The Deamon Deacons have lost five of their last six games.

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers (13-10-3) at Predators (11-8-4)
6 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

The Flyers have won a season-high four games in a row. They'll try to make it five Sunday night when they visit the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena for the second game of a back-to-back set.

Let's take a look at five things you need to know.

1. Streaking like 2014?
Not only do the Flyers have a chance to extend their season-best winning streak, but they're also looking to win their most consecutive games since March 15-22, 2014, when they also won five straight.

The Flyers have put up strong showings in the back ends of back-to-backs, going 4-1-1 thus far.

“You just have to have the work ethic night in and night out," Steve Mason said Saturday after the Flyers' 3-1 win over the Blackhawks. "And, I think we were struggling to find that. There are games when we were swarming and giving teams no other option, and other nights we were chasing the puck.

"We have another tough test going to Nashville to play. So, we’re going to have to follow up with another great effort.” 

2. A Provorov encore?
Ivan Provorov's confidence has to be at his highest of the season.

In Saturday's win, the 19-year-old blueliner scored two goals in a 31-second span to double his goal total through the first 25 games.

Provorov said he thinks defense first, but the offensive production is a good sign.

“Score one goal in a game, it’s a good feeling. Score two in one shift, it’s unbelievable,” Provorov said.

“Every time you score, it’s like a confidence booster."

3. Predators finding stride
After losing eight of their first 11 games, Peter Laviolette's Predators have gotten on track, going 8-3-1 since.

Nashville ranks in the top half of the league in goals per game (3.00 — tied for fifth), goals against per game (2.61 — 15th), power-play percentage (22.6 — sixth) and penalty-kill percentage (84.5 — 10th).

Last time out, the Predators blew a 4-1 lead in the third period for a 5-4 overtime loss to the Devils on Saturday, so they should be extra focused.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: On Saturday, Brayden Schenn scored just his second goal in his past 18 games. Schenn can be streaky so maybe he feeds off that goal. He's also a career plus-4 against the Predators, with two goals and three assists in eight games.

Predators: Let's go P.K. Subban, who isn't exactly a favorite among Flyers fans. He's off to a nice start in his first season in Nashville with six goals and 10 assists, and eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last eight games.

5. This and that
• Flyers goalie Steve Mason is 7-7-5 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 20 career games against the Predators.

• Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne is 3-2-2 with a 2.91 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in seven career games against the Flyers.

• Claude Giroux is four assists away from passing Rick MacLeish (369) and Eric Lindros (369) for fifth on the Flyers’ all-time list.