When Was the Last Time All Four Philly Sports Teams Failed to Make the Playoffs in Succession?

When Was the Last Time All Four Philly Sports Teams Failed to Make the Playoffs in Succession?

Ryan Howard and Chase Utley were out of the lineup with
injuries for the first half of 2012, and the Phillies wound up missing the
playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

The Eagles finally bottomed out under Andy Reid last season,
their 4-12 record costing the long-time head coach his job and launching the
franchise into a rebuilding process.

Expectations suddenly soared for the 76ers when they acquired
Andrew Bynum over the summer, but he won’t even so much as suit up for a game
this season, perhaps ever.

After enduring a long, bitter lockout that lasted into
January, the Flyers have massively underperformed and appear to be destined to
join the list of recent disappointments.

Usually at least one of the local professional franchises
can stand tall. One club is left to carry the torch, to lead Philly sports
fans through the dark tunnel that is our sports landscape, offering some form
of hope – even when we know it’s only the false kind.

But with the Flyers tumbling further and further down the
standings, it looks like the home teams are going to let the people down in a
way they haven’t in nearly two decades. The last time Philadelphia went a full
calendar year without a single representative in the MLB, NFL, NBA, or NHL
playoffs were the 1993-94 seasons.

The streak began with the Eagles in ’93 after they lost
Randall Cunningham four games into the season, continued into the summer of ’94
for Flyers and Sixers franchises that were in transition, and extended into the
fall when Major League Baseball players went on strike and cancelled the World
Series.

Just to put a cherry on top, the Birds missed the
tournament again under head coach Rich Kotite in ’94 despite a 6-2 start. Eric
Lindros would finally come to the city’s rescue, helping the Flyers reach the
postseason for the first time in six years – but only after the NHL endured one
of its vintage lockouts first.

It’s hard to argue any period in Philly sports has been
worse since then. The Flyers were just beginning their run as a perennial
contender, and a short time later the Eagles would follow suit under Reid. Even
the Sixers provided some excitement during the Allen Iverson days, and more
recently the Phillies turned into a powerhouse.

The closest we’ve come to having a lost season like this was
‘04-05. A lockout cancelled hockey season, the Phils were still treading water,
and the Eagles collapsed briefly after making a trip to the Super Bowl. Only
the 76ers made the playoffs, but there was a faint glimmer of hope there with
A.I. and first-year head coach Jim O’Brien.

Naturally O’Brien was fired after a first-round playoff
exit.

The worst part is there is no definitive end in sight to the
current playoff-less streak. The Phillies return their key players, but it’s an
aging core and the front office had a polarizing offseason. Who knows how long
it will take Chip Kelly to clean up the mess Reid left behind for him at the
NovaCare Complex. The Sixers are either starting from square one, or re-signing
a head case with no knees. The Flyers’ roster is loaded with young talent, but
the organization is up against the salary cap which makes it difficult to
address their immediate needs.

Wow, that’s depressing.

The truth is the Phillies could return to prominence this
year, the Eagles could become competitive again in one offseason, and the
Flyers seemingly have too much talent to stay down in the dumps for too long.
Only the 76ers are seemingly in hopeless territory, but they'll have some
options.

Who knows, maybe there truly is no place to go but up from
here. After all, it doesn’t get a lot worse than this, and the pain can only
last for so long.

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Best of NHL: Sabres snap Blues' 6-game winning streak

Best of NHL: Sabres snap Blues' 6-game winning streak

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Robin Lehner stopped 16 shots in the third period and 37 overall, and the Buffalo Sabres snapped the St. Louis Blues' six-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory on Saturday.

Evander Kane and minor-league callup Nicholas Baptiste each had a goal and an assist in Buffalo's third straight win, matching a season best accomplished three times. Ryan O'Reilly also scored for the Sabres (26-23-10), who have three more wins than losses for the first time since closing the 2011-12 season 39-32-11.

Vladimir Tarasenko also scored for St. Louis, which lost for the first time since a 4-1 defeat to Pittsburgh on Feb. 4 (see full recap).

Jets spoil Julien's return to Montreal
MONTREAL -- Patrik Laine and Mathieu Perreault each had a goal and an assist, and the Winnipeg Jets spoiled Claude Julien's return to Montreal with a 3-1 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday.

Joel Armia also scored for Winnipeg (27-29-5), and Connor Hellebuyck stopped 19 shots. The Jets had dropped five of six.

The Canadiens fired coach Michel Therrien on Tuesday and hired Julien in hopes of getting their season back on track. Julien also coached Montreal from 2003-2006.

But Julien's first game back was more of the same for the first-place Canadiens (31-20-8), who have lost three in a row and seven of eight (see full recap).

Senators top Leafs to gain on Canadiens
TORONTO -- Mark Stone had a goal and four assists, Derick Brassard scored twice in the third period and the Ottawa Senators recovered after blowing a two-goal lead to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 on Saturday night.

The Senators pulled within two points of Montreal for first place in the Atlantic Division. Ottawa led 2-0 after one period but trailed 3-2 in the third before getting a tying goal from Mike Hoffman and a power-play goal from Brassard. Stone and Brassard added empty-netters, and Chris Wideman and Ryan Dzingel also scored for the Senators.

Ottawa has won four of five overall and three of four against the Leafs this season. Craig Anderson stopped 34 shots.

Morgan Rielly, Nazem Kadri and William Nylander scored and Auston Matthews had two assists for the Maple Leafs. Frederik Andersen allowed four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

NBA All-Star Saturday: Glenn Robinson III dunk champion; Eric Gordon wins 3-point contest

NBA All-Star Saturday: Glenn Robinson III dunk champion; Eric Gordon wins 3-point contest

NEW ORLEANS -- Glenn Robinson III is the NBA's new dunk king, with an assist to Indiana teammate Paul George, the Pacers' mascot and a Pacers cheerleader.

Robinson leaped over all three, snagging the ball from George along the way before finishing with an emphatic, two-hand, reverse jam, giving him a perfect score -- and the title -- on his final dunk.

Robinson edged out Phoenix's Derrick Jones Jr., who was done in by his failure to complete his difficult first dunk of two in the final round.

Jones still managed a perfect score on his second dunk, when he received a bounce-pass in the paint, put it between his legs and threw down a left-handed jam. But Robinson made sure it wasn't enough.

In the 3-point contest, Houston's Eric Gordon dethroned Golden State splash brother Klay Thompson. Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks won the Skills Challenge.

Both dunk finalists delighted the crowd with soaring slams over teammates and others that showcased the explosive spring in their vertical leaps.

Robinson had one dunk in which he leap-frogged one man sitting on another's shoulders, grabbed the ball from the elevated man's hands and slamming it home.

Jones jumped over four teammates including Devin Booker and Marquese Chriss in the first round. He also drew roars from the crowd when he took a pass off the side of the backboard from Booker with his right hand, put the ball between his legs to his left for a round-house jam.

The dunk that cost him was a bold one. He tried to leap a friend and the Suns' gorilla mascot, grab the ball on the way over, put it between his legs and then finish with a windmill. But he couldn't get the dunk to go down in his allotted three attempts.

DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers and Aaron Gordon of Orlando were unable to emerge from the first round. Jordan dunked over DJ turn tables and Gordon dunked after receiving a bounce pass from a drone that had flown over the court with the "Star Wars" theme music playing.

Eric Gordon got his win in New Orleans, where he played the previous five seasons before leaving last summer in free agency.

Gordon's score of 21 in a final-round tiebreaker defeated Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, the 2013 winner who had 18. The pair had each finished with a score of 20 in the final round, meaning they each had to shoot 25 more balls to decide it.

"I wasn't really concentrating on how many I made," Gordon said. "It's all about just knocking down the shot. I never counted in my head or anything. I just go out there and just shoot the ball."

Thompson was stunningly eliminated in the first round, missing a final shot from the corner that could have put him through ahead of Kemba Walker.

Big men reigned supreme for a second straight year in the skills competition, with the 7-foot-3 Porzingis beating Utah's Gordon Hayward in the final round.

Those vanquished in earlier rounds included guards John Wall of Washington and Isaiah Thomas of Boston, both because they couldn't make their initial 3-pointers required to close out the course before Hayward did, even though Hayward had trailed each of them dribbling down the court by a considerable margin before hitting his clinching shots.

Porzingis emerged from the big-men's division that included the Pelicans' Anthony Davis and Denver's Nikola Jokic.

"It's a good feeling that I'm able to showcase my skill with my size and show to the kids that you're capable of doing that even if you're tall and lanky like me," Porzingis said. "I think a lot of kids now growing up will improve those perimeter skills just seeing guys like -- I don't want to mention myself, but big guys with perimeter skills that can do it."

Porzingis and Hayward were neck-and-neck until the end of the course, but Porzingis hit his 3 first to end it.

The three-round, head-to-head obstacle-course competition tests dribbling, passing, agility and shooting skills.

Earlier on Saturday, Rollie Massimino, who coached Villanova to the 1985 NCAA championship, and Chris Webber were among the 14 finalists for this year's Basketball Hall of Fame induction class.

Others include NBA referee Hugh Evans, Connecticut star Rebecca Lobo, two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady, five-time All-Star Sidney Moncrief, Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey, Kansas coach Bill Self and two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich.

Previous finalists returning to the ballot include point guard Tim Hardaway, record-setting high school coach Robert Hughes, Notre Dame women's coach Muffet McGraw, former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan and 10-time AAU national champion Wayland Baptist University.

Enshrinees will be announced at the Final Four on April 3. The induction ceremonies in Springfield, Massachusetts are Sept. 7-9.