Get Ready to See More of Ilya Kovalchuk (in a Devils Uniform)

Get Ready to See More of Ilya Kovalchuk (in a Devils Uniform)

If you've been tracking the trade rumors involving Ilya Kovalchuk, chances are you know that a few hours ago, a trade was finalized that would send the sniper to New Jersey for a package of Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, and their 2010 first round pick. Former Devil Anssi Salmela will head to Jersey as well. 

So what's this mean to us? The first wave of impact for most Flyers fans will be that the Devils, who've routinely given our teams fits for more than a decade, just added a forward who is more talented than any they've ever had. 

They still have Marty Brodeur and a sound defensive system—a combination that has produced the lowest goals-against total in the NHL so far this season. And now, they also have the guy who has scored the second most goals in the league since the lockout, behind only Alex Ovechkin. Offense was an area in which the Devils were somewhat lacking, particularly lately. They just addressed that situation in as big a way possible, and they didn't give up all that much to rent or test-drive Kovy. 

I won't pretend to be an expert in the Devils' younger players and prospects, but here's their end of the deal as I understand it. Bergfors, a rookie whose stats we've seen alongside JVR's in the freshman scoring races, was off to a good start this season, but he's walled out somewhat recently. A pending RFA after this season, he's expected to develop into a nice player, and his name also indicates that he plays Peter Forsberg's foil in Bizarro World. Oduya was rewarded with a new contract last off-season but hasn't been too great in an injury-affected 09-10. He currently has just 4 points and a plus-2 rating after putting up 29 with a plus-21 last season. And the high prospect Cormier? Well, maybe he'll have a different kind of impact next season. Not long ago, Cormier was best known as Team Canada's captain in the World Juniors; now he's a popular hit on YouTube. The Devils' first-round pick will probably be toward the end of the round. 

Yes, sadly, this looks like a good trade for the Devils, even if they can't re-sign Kovalchuk after this season when he becomes a FA. Any speculation as to whether he'll be in Jersey beyond this year is probably premature. But, although the price will be high (he just turned down Thrashers' extension offers, one of which was said to average $10 million per season, representing the NHL's most lucrative annual salary), it's still possible. 

The trade was wisely primarily about this season for New Jersey though. Martin Brodeur has been their biggest meal ticket since the days of Chris Terreri's funky facemask, and they need to get in any legitimate Cup runs they can while they still have the best goalie in the history of the sport. 

And guess what! We'll get to see Devils+aBonaFideScorer in a home and home series next week—at the Wach on Monday and in Jerz on Wednesday. 

Although the Flyers were said to be an interested party in the Kovalchuk sweepstakes, it doesn't sound like it ever go too far. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise given the cap constraints the team has been up against for a few seasons, the contract Kovy has now, and the massive numbers he wants in the future. But Kevin Allen, the USA Today writer who broke this huge trade story, says that the Flyers were never willing to give up Jeff Carter or James vanRiemsdyk. 

Carter is under contract, and at a relatively manageable number. His stats this season haven't held up to the standard he set last season, when he actually scored more goals than Kovalchuk (by a margin of three goals, while having played three more games). However, that output has been at least the norm for Kovy, who already has 31 goals this season, versus the exception for Carter. But the bigger point here is that the Flyers were nothing more than a storyline in all of this, which was true of a handful of teams. Maybe they helped spike the price for the Devils, but it doesn't appear to have been by much. 

The biggest point is that the Devils are a more dangerous threat than they were yesterday, and just in time for two matchups with the Flyers. This was the ah-shit scenario for Flyers fans, as well as the other Eastern Conference contenders. You really would have liked the weather in LA, Ilya. Please be sure to visit California before you sign your next contract.   

Rio police charge Ryan Lochte with false report of robbery

Rio police charge Ryan Lochte with false report of robbery

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian police charged American swimmer Ryan Lochte on Thursday with filing a false robbery report over an incident during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

A police statement said Lochte would be informed in the United States so he could decide whether to introduce a defense in Brazil.

The indictment will also be sent to the International Olympic Committee's ethics commission, the statement said.

The swimmer's publicists and his lawyer, Jeff Ostrow, did not immediately respond to calls and emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Lochte initially said that he and fellow swimmers Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen were robbed at gunpoint in a taxi by men with a police badge as they returned to the Olympic Village from a party Aug. 15. However, security video suggested the four actually faced security guards after vandalizing a gas station restroom.

Lochte left Brazil shortly after the incident. Three days later, local authorities took Conger and Bentz off an airliner heading to the United States so they could be questioned about the robbery claim. They were later allowed to leave Brazil, as was Feigen, after he gave testimony. Feigen, who initially stood by Lochte's testimony, was not charged.

Lochte has since acknowledged that he was highly intoxicated and that his behavior led to the confrontation. It is not clear from the video whether a gun was ever pointed to the athletes.

Under Brazilian law, the penalty for falsely filing a crime report carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison. Lochte could be tried in absentia if he didn't return to face the charge.

The United States and Brazil have an extradition treaty dating back to the 1960s, but Brazil has a long history of not extraditing its own citizens to other nations and U.S. authorities could take the same stance if Lochte is found guilty.

That is currently the case of the head of Brazil's football confederation, Marco Polo del Nero, who faces charges in the wide-ranging scandal entangling international soccer's ruling body, FIFA. He has not travelled outside Brazil for more than a year to avoid being arrested by U.S. authorities somewhere else.

The charges in Brazil raise questions about the future for Lochte, who is planning to take time off from swimming but wants to return to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He has 12 Olympic medals, second only to Michael Phelps among U.S. male Olympians.

Lochte lost four major sponsors early this week over the controversy, including Speedo USA and Ralph Lauren. But on Thursday he picked up a new sponsor -- Pine Bros. Softish Throat Drops. Pine Bros. said people should be more understanding of the swimmer and said he will appear in ads that say the company's product is "Forgiving On Your Throat."

There aren't enough Chooch pillows for every Philadelphian

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There aren't enough Chooch pillows for every Philadelphian

Carlos Ruiz has been traded to the Dodgers and it is sad.

Not in the sense that it's a move that remotely affects anything about the current state of the Phillies. It's sad simply because Chooch -- lovable and awesome and wonderful Chooch -- is no longer a Phillie.

Chooch will be remembered for catching Roy Halladay's perfect game and no hitter and that little dribbler down the line in Game 3 of the 2008 World Series. And, of course, dropping to his knees in celebration with Brad Lidge making them World Effin Champions.

But mostly he'll just be missed. What a guy to have aroud for so long.

Roy knows how hard it is not to have him around. I guess Chase won't need his any longer since the two will be reunined with one last chance of glory in L.A.

Phillies trade Carlos Ruiz to Dodgers

Phillies trade Carlos Ruiz to Dodgers

Jimmy Rollins. Then Chase Utley. Now Carlos Ruiz.

Thursday closed another chapter of the Phillies' golden era.

Ruiz, the Phillies' catcher since 2006 and arguably the most impactful in franchise history, has been traded to the Dodgers (along with cash) for catcher A.J. Ellis, right-hander Tommy Bergjans and a player to be named later.

Rollins was dealt to the Dodgers in December 2014. Utley, still with Los Angeles, was traded to the Dodgers in August 2015.

Ryan Howard is now the lone leftover from the Phillies' 2008 world champion club.

In 11 big-league seasons — all with the Phillies — Ruiz has hit .266 with a .352 on-base percentage and has been lauded for his game-calling abilities. This season, the 37-year-old is batting .261 with a .368 OBP, three home runs and 12 RBIs in a reserve role. Ruiz joined the Phillies' organization in 1998 when the team signed him as an amateur free agent. In 2016, he was playing out his final season in red pinstripes, the final year of a three-year, $26 million deal.

"I met Chooch in 2009 for the first time and immediately sensed that he was a special player," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "But more importantly, over the years I grew to know that he is a special person. I'll miss him."

Ruiz has caught the fourth-most games in Phillies history with 1,029, behind only Mike Lieberthal (1,139), Red Dooin (1,124) and Bob Boone (1,094).

"Carlos not only was — and is — a good teammate, he [also] learned how to become the leader he needed to be behind the plate running a pitching staff," former Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer said. "As a teammate, he always had that Ruiz smile that we all have come to love!"

Ruiz caught Cole Hamels' no-hitter in July of last season, marking the catcher's fourth no-no behind the plate, tying him for most in MLB history with Jason Varitek.

"He’s a tremendous catcher and it just shows," Hamels said after no-hitting the Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 25. "If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be catching this many no-hitter, perfect games. All of us have been fortunate enough to have him."

The Panama native, beloved and known by the Delaware Valley as "Chooch," quickly became a fan favorite. He was the staple behind home plate of the team's five-year run from 2007-11, in which it won five National League East titles, two NL pennants and, of course, the World Series championship in 2008.

"They are my favorite fans in the world," Ruiz said in February, "and we have some good memories together."

And many of them.

He became Roy Halladay's favorite battery mate, catching the right-hander's perfect game and postseason no-hitter in 2010.

He played a career-high 132 games in 2011, while handling the Phillies' vaunted rotation en route to a franchise-record 102 wins.

He put together an All-Star season in 2012, hitting .325 with a .394 OBP, 16 homers and 68 RBIs.

The most cherished, though, came on October 29, 2008 — catching the final pitch, the World Series-winning strikeout by Brad Lidge.