Paul Holmgren Wasn't Always a Bean Counter

Paul Holmgren Wasn't Always a Bean Counter

Retired NHL players staying on in new roles with their former teams is one of the more common phenomena in hockey. We've just seen Derian Hatcher added to the coaching staff, which is led by a Phantoms legend in John Stevens. The Flyers' GM, Paul Holmgren, also has a long history with the team, as did his predecessor, whose number hangs from the Wachovia Center rafters. Long before he was GM though, Homer became the first former Flyer to later be named the team's head coach ('87-88). 

Some fans love this about hockey, while it drives others crazy. It's probably true that at times, former players are allowed to stay past the point where it's been illustrated that they probably aren't the guys to usher in the next Stanley Cup era, mostly because team officials and fans are too thankful for the roles those men played in the last one. But even with the NHL changing rapidly, we continue to see former players in positions that may in theory be better suited for business school grads, with little sign of imminent change. It's fun though, to think of these suited, straight-faced, dollars & sense men in their former on-ice roles...

Homer has come under fire for some difficulties he's faced in the new salary cap era of the NHL, challenges that are understandable when you think about it. The Flyers and many other teams long ago decided that former players were the best evaluators of talent, chemistry, and potential—back in a time when money wasn't quite the same animal it is today. He's made some great moves since taking over, quickly turning around a team that finished in dead last place, and I have faith in him as the team's personnel architect because I am, for lack of a better word, a homer. The question we're all asking ourselves though is, were last season's difficulties against the cap the crash course that will show Holmgren the way to enlightened money management, or a preview of what we can expect at every deadline? Can he combine his eye for talent with an acumen for forward-thinking number crunching? Only time and an under-the-microscope 2009-2010 season will tell. 
Until then, let's take some a few minutes on a summer day to watch a some myopic films of the player Homer was, which as you can see often included dropping the gloves. 

That was Homer's second tango with O'Reilly of that particular game. This is a good history reminder though: Next time you hear a guy like Milbury take a dated (or not...) cheapshot at the Flyers, you can bet there was probably some background incident, and it wasn't pretty. And, when considering some of Homer's moves, we should also remember that he racked up 1600 PIM as a Flyer, a club record at the time. Oh, and I said "myopic" before because these clips only show Homer's role as a willing pugilist, rather than a player who could also light the lamp. In the '79-80 season, he scored 30 regular season goals, followed by 10 in the playoffs to go with 10 assists. Those were career highs, but nothing to sneeze at either. 
So what are your thoughts on hockey lifers and the prominent role this trend plays in the NHL? Do you think there's no better judge than a guy who can say he's done all that and then some, or is it time for the league to take a Moneypuck approach and place accountant-types in charge of their books to gain an advantage in the off-ice salary cap game?
Thanks to the good guys over at for uploading some of these videos and so many more, and as you might imagine, Paul's wikipedia entry is an interesting read. I plugged in a few milestones here, but I encourage checking the rest out, including the time he almost died after a game but fortunately pulled through. There are a few details missing too though, like the time he had some trouble after a DUI/hit and run and ended up at the Betty Ford Clinic, which oddly enough took place a week after Chris Pronger and a group of Homer's Whalers were arrested in 1994. Again, we can see the possible historical links, like the second chances he's been willing to give, as in the case of Ray Emery. 

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.