Give The Guy A Break

Give The Guy A Break

Back in February, we asked the question here at The 700 Level whether Michael Leighton was the Flyers' MVP up to that point. That may have been a reach even then, his play happening to coincide with the club's rebound from a horrid start. It was fair though. Here was this mid-season waiver pickup who was suddenly thrust into the starting lineup, and the team was winning games. He deserves some credit for that.

As it turns out, the defense the Flyers played was probably just that good. When Leights went down and Brian Boucher had to pick up the slack, they simply continued to roll. Chris Pronger made that much of an impact on this team. And when Boosh likewise succumbed to an injury, it was the very evening Leighton returned to the bench, and all he did was hold down the fort the rest of the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Still, Michael Leighton had a huge positive influence on this season, one that ended two wins shy of a championship. He certainly didn't do it by himself, but they couldn't necessarily have done it without him either.

Last night's game winner was soft. Unfortunately, he allowed several "soft" goals in this series. He was pulled twice. Nobody is going to make the case that Leighton gave the Flyers the kind of stellar performance in goal that wins championships. And yet, nobody ever expected he would need to. You'll use two hands if you count the number of times their season was on life support.

So if he was a little overmatched by an extremely talented and very deserving Blackhawks team, how can you blame him? There were shots he could have stopped, ones that maybe another goaltender stops. The Flyers didn't have another goaltender though. They had a guy who spent a year out of the NHL, a 33-year-old backup, and Leighton, who spent most of his career playing in the AHL.

Actually, at times all they had was Leighton, like for games six and seven against Boston and the entire series versus Montreal in the Eastern Finals. If you want to toss his contributions to the Flyers' amazing run in the garbage over a couple of tough nights against a great opponent, you're just plain ungrateful. The truth is we were lucky to have the man, because who knows how far they would have made it without him.

Should he rejoin the Flyers next season and what should his role be? I don't know, nor have I the heart to answer right now. The venom directed at Leights is unnecessary and excessive though. For once, be happy with the ride somebody gave you. It didn't work out, but it was oh-so-fun, and it's a story you won't be forgetting... ever.

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

CHESTER, Pa. — On the eve of his comeback after missing nearly 13 months with a left tibia stress fracture and other related injuries, Union midfielder Maurice Edu fractured his left fibula on Saturday, keeping him out for the 2016 playoffs and beyond.

“I was trying to take the shot on goal and my foot got stuck in the turf,” Edu said Sunday, in his blue Union-issued suit and supported by crutches. “My ankle rolled and twisted and it kind of snapped a little bit. I heard it crack, and a lot of pain from there. I got a scan afterward, and there was a break.”

There's no timetable his return.

Edu, 30, has spent over a calendar year fighting various injuries that have kept him out of game action. His trouble began on Sept. 30, 2015, when he played through the U.S. Open Cup final with a partially torn groin and sports hernia. It was during Edu’s recovery from those injuries that he developed a stress fracture.

"A little bit frustration. A lot of frustration, to be honest," he said. "But all I can do now is get back to work, focus on the positives and make sure that my situation isn’t a distraction from the team."

Edu’s teammates were equally devastated by the news. Edu, the Union captain when healthy, is popular and well-respected in the locker room.

"I feel so bad for him," said Alejandro Bedoya, who wore a dedication to Edu under his jersey on Sunday. "He’s one of my good friends, so I was looking forward to playing alongside him. I know how hard he’s worked to get back, and to see him go out like that, it’s heartbreaking. I’m sad for his loss and I hope he stays strong."

Edu, who has been with the Union since 2014, returned to training in July and played three conditioning appearances with the Union’s USL team, Bethlehem Steel FC. He was on the bench for the Union’s last three games and was set to make his first appearance in over a year against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, a game the Union eventually lost, 2-0 (see game story).

"We’re gutted for Mo," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "He was slated to start today. It’s real upsetting because he’s worked so hard to get back on the field. It’s been a tough 2016 for him, but I know he’ll come back stronger."

While he was visibly shaken by recent injury, Edu is driven to return.

"What happened, happened," Edu said. "I have no control over that. The only thing I do have control over is my next steps from here, how I prepare myself mentally and emotionally and how I continue to support this group."

Temple picked to finish 6th in AAC preseason poll

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Temple picked to finish 6th in AAC preseason poll

This is starting to become a trend. One Temple hopes to continue to prove wrong.

For the third straight year, Temple was chosen to finish sixth in the American Athletic Conference preseason poll. The poll, which was released on Monday, is voted on by the conference's head coaches.

Also selected to finish sixth last season, the Owls posted a 21-12 overall record and a 14-4 mark in the AAC to reach the NCAA Tournament. In 2014-15, TU tied for third in the AAC with a 13-5 record and was one of the last teams left out of the Big Dance.

Cincinnati was tabbed to win the American title in the poll, just ahead of UConn.

Temple, who returns three starters from last season's team, opens the 2016-17 campaign against city rival La Salle at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 11.