Wait... Ray Emery?

Wait... Ray Emery?

I think we're all appropriately skeptical of the news that the Flyers have contacted the agent for exiled goalie Ray Emery, who played the last season in Russia's KHL after failing to catch on in the NHL upon being waived from Ottawa. Why were NHL teams unwilling to take a chance on him last season? Oh, just a few reasons...

First, he's got a bit of a temper, and he hasn't shown much willingness or ability to curb it in the past. He's fought teammates, opposing goalies and enforcers, and most recently, he punched a staff member for his Russian club over wearing a sponsor's hat. Emery, or Razor as he's often called, has been linked to some reports of recreational drug use, as well as upwards of 30 traffic violations, including a road rage case involving a retiree. He once had a mask designed with Mike Tyson painted on it, wearing it only once before the team asked him not to (Tyson wasn't just a boxer and video game legend, you see; he was also convicted of rape). Emery is tatted up and has a pet python. He won't stand for any BS near his crease, nor anywhere else, for that matter. Bad. Ass. Wikipedia. Entry.

Sounds like a great fit for the town that still idolizes Ron Hextall, right?

Except that this is the new NHL, where players are suspended based on their past transgressions more so than their current actions, and entire teams are admittedly categorized by the league for the actions of individual players. The Flyers' most significant weakness last season probably wasn't the lack of the elusive crease-clearing defenseman or an elite goalie—it was leading the league in penalties. Fans scratched their heads when the team added the NHL's leading PIM-p, Dan Carcillo, wondering how this would help with reducing the amount of time the Flyers spend down a man.

So what effect would adding Emery have? Certainly it wouldn't be fewer penalties taken by the goaltender position, right? Probably not fewer games missed due to suspension either, and I don't think refs will be overly sensitive to invasions of his personal space. He's fought his own teammates in the past, so it's probably not chemistry... Perhaps it's his skill? His career numbers aren't better than those of Biron, although the two aren't far apart, and we'd have to assume that his banishment should drop his salary demands. And that's probably the biggest factor at the moment, given the troubles the Flyers had with the cap last season. In any case, Biron better hope Homer isn't making his decision based on feats of strength.

Sugar Ray did backstop the Sens to the Cup finals appearance in 2007, a promised land the Flyers haven't seen since I was a junior going to Senior Week in Sea Isle. But despite his abilities on the ice, wary NHL teams stayed away from Emery, and they haven't been beating down his door to come back from Moscow. Will the Flyers allow Biron and Nitty to leave as free agents and take a risk signing the Sean Avery of goaltending? Emery is clearly not a sure #1, something that fans in this town are unhappily accustomed to, but I really wouldn't be surprised. Nor would I be surprised if it turned out to be a great signing... but it's not without some enormous potential for calamity.

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

I like to give Flyers fans a bit of a hard time on occasion, but that's only because I love them.

One beautiful Flyers fan today reminded me of why I love them.

They took the time to send a postcard to CSNPhilly.com's Flyers Insider -- and hater of the woo -- Tim Panaccio with one single word written on it.

"Woo."

Panotch says "Someone wasted a stamp and post card on this," but I say we just generated at least 50 cents in ad revenue from those of you that are reading this right now.

Money and time well spent.

Now, if you're not up on your wooing, Panotch penned a piece on how some fans wooing at games started annoying some of the players. Panotch hates the woo. BUT... and this is an important but... the Flyers are 6-0 since this all started. 

Woo.