Career assists for Flyers captain Claude Giroux

The Greek God of Wrestling reveals his predictions for 2017. Achillies Heel also tells us who was the 2016 wrestler of the year, who won the Ring of Honor World Championship and reveals a new weekly feature in Heel Turns.

Zach Ertz catches two touchdown passes and the defense intercepts Cam Newton three times and smothers the running game as the Eagles defeat the host Panthers, 28-23, in a showdown between first-place teams to improve an NFC-best 5-1 record.

Using the No. 2 selection in next week’s NHL Draft for whichever of the top two players — Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier — the Devils don’t pick at No. 1 is the easy part. Gordon Glantz wants general manager Ron Hextall to be aggressive in exploring other moves to improve the Flyers.

Archive for February, 2017

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On February - 27 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

The Fish ‘n Chips column is sponsored by Legal Sea Foods – Gourmet Gift Division … so much more than Fish ‘n Chips … “If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal!”)

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In case you weren’t aware, it’s football season.

The NFL Scouting Combine begins Tuesday and runs through next Monday (March 6). One day later, teams are allowed to begin contract negotiations with agents of players who will officially become unrestricted free agents on March 9.

Free agency, of course, will inspire days’ worth of sports talk. Whom should the Eagles sign? Which players should they release? Which position is their greatest area of need? Whom should they select in the NFL Draft?

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the NFL Draft takes place in Philadelphia from April 27-29. That should crank up the draft talk even further – if that’s possible.

Somewhere in the middle of all of the NFL talk, the Phillies will open their season. But, even with spring training under way, it already feels like football season has arrived.


UNION KICK OFF SEASON: The “other” football also kicks off its season. But, for the Philadelphia Union, this is the start of their regular season. The Union player their season opener Sunday (9:30 p.m.) at Vancouver.


EXPENSIVE PROTECTION: Reports that Eagles left tackle Jason Peters won’t take a pay cut to remain with the Eagles caused some people to suggest the Eagles should have released him instead.

Although it’s true that Peters, who has declined in recent years, isn’t worth the $11.7 million the Eagles will pay him next season, it’s also true that the Eagles must do all they can to protect Carson Wentz. The second-year quarterback is the future of the franchise. The Eagles can’t pinch pennies when it comes to surrounding Wentz with the best possible protection.


SPRING IN THEIR STEP: Before you get overly excited about the exploits of Brock Stassi or Cameron Perkins, repeat after me: Spring training statistics are nearly meaningless. Spring training statistics are nearly meaningless. Spring training statistics are nearly meaningless.


REMEMBERING PETTINE: High school football lost a legend last Friday when Central Bucks West head coach Mike Pettine died in Florida at age 76. Pettine retired with a record of 326-42-4 during 33 seasons. His teams achieved victory in his final 45 games, winning three state championships along the way.

Although I covered a lot of high school football games in the northern Philadelphia suburbs, I don’t have a lot of Mike Pettine stories. CB West was not one of my primary schools. Generally, I only covered West when I tagged along to do sidebars during state playoff games.

Despite the fact that I didn’t cover West on a regular basis, I remember that Pettine was always professional and respectful when I spoke with him, both in person and on the telephone. On one occasion, after watching me negotiate the muddy field on crutches after a state playoff game, Pettine, before starting his postgame interview, inquired about my injury (torn ACL).

But you didn’t have to cover West in person to recognize Pettine’s impact. The influence he had on his players and Doylestown community is immeasurable. There may never be another coach like him.


FINISHING WITH A FLOURISH: NASCAR got off to a terrific start with a down-to-the-wire Daytona 500. Actually, the race didn’t go so well for some of the better-known drivers. Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were all knocked out of the race by accidents.

But the final 20 laps were extremely exciting, with Kurt Busch shooting to the front as leaders Chase Elliott and then Kyle Larson ran out of fuel. It was the first Daytona 500 win for the veteran drive, which also gave Stewart-Haas car owner Tony Stewart his first victory in the Daytona 500 after failing to win the race during his storied driver career.


HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: This past weekend marked the 40th anniversary of the movie “Slap Shot.” For those unfamiliar with the on-and-off-ice exploits of the Johnstown Chiefs, Slap Shot became a cult classic. Paul Newman was excellent as player-coach Reggie Dunlop, and the (often raunchy) humor still holds up today.


TRADING POST: This Fish ‘n Chips column is being written between the NBA and NHL trade deadlines. The 76ers made some waves by trading Ersan Ilyasova and Nerlens Noel. Will the Flyers make similar waves this week?


STRIP CLUB: Shawn Stefani stripped down to his underwear to hit a shot from a playable lie in the water during the Honda Classic last Friday. Stefani, who was scrambling to make the cut, did not want to take a penalty stroke. Knowing he’d make a splash, literally as well as figuratively, Stefani removed his shirt, pants, socks and shoes before hitting out of the water. He later apologized if he offended anyone with his near-naked ambition.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 28 years, has never removed his pants while playing golf.

Heel Turns: WrestleMania plans murky

Posted by Achilles Heel On February - 26 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelAfter last week’s information-packed Heel Turns, you’re going to have to survive with a little less from the Greek God of Wrestling this week. Deal with it.

As a few plans for WrestleMania become clearer, other plans become murkier. We know that Brock Lesnar will face Goldberg. It’s apparent that Kevin Owens will battle Chris Jericho. The only question, which should be answered next Sunday at Fastlane, is which of these matches will be for the WWE Universal Championship.

Bray Wyatt will defend the WWE Championship against someone at WrestleMania. The opponent is supposed to be the winner of the A.J. Styles-Luke Harper match on Smackdown this week. Achilles Heel still suspects that Randy Orton will be involved in the WrestleMania title match, perhaps in a triple threat match with Wyatt and Harper.

Another piece of the WrestleMania puzzle fell into place this past week when Maryse attacked Nikki Bella during her falls-count-anywhere match with Natalya. This appears to be setting up a WrestleMania match pitting Cena and Nikki, his “real life” girlfriend, against the “real life” couple of Miz and Maryse.

We can debate the wisdom of putting Cena in a mixed tag team match at WrestleMania, but that match creates more questions with barely a month left before WrestleMania.

What will happen to Styles? If he doesn’t face Wyatt for the title, what will the phenomenal one be doing at WrestleMania? What about Undertaker? There doesn’t seem to be an obvious match for the Dead Man at WrestleMania. They could play off Undertaker being eliminated by Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble, or Undertaker could be worked into the Goldberg-Lesnar match.

There probably will be match between Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin for the Intercontinental Championship. The tag team and women’s championships could also be up for grabs. We’ll know more about Seth Rollins’ WrestleMania plans Monday when he speaks on Raw for the first time since being injured by Samoa Joe.

With only a month to go until WresteMania, however, a lot of the card seems to be unsettled.


GIVING IT UP: Naomi was forced to relinquish the Smackdown Women’s Championship last week. The emotion during her in-ring conversation with Smackdown general manager Daniel Bryan appeared as real as her tears of joy when she won the title at Elimination Chamber.

We don’t have concrete reports on the severity of Naomi’s injury. It’s possible that she could regain the title at WrestleMania in front of her fans in Orlando, where she was a cheerleader and dancer for the Orlando Magic.


SABRE IS RAZOR-SHARP: Congratulations to Zack Sabre Jr., who captured the EVOLVE Championship from Timothy Thatcher on Saturday. Plenty of challengers already appear to be lining up to face Zabre for the title.


FROM UFC TO TNA: Former UFC fighter Josh Barnett will battle Bobby Lashley for the TNA World Championship this week on Impact Wrestling.


MAYHEM IN MANHATTAN: Adam Cole will defend the Ring of Honor World Championship on Saturday against Bobby Fish in the main event of Manhattan Mayhem VI at the Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom. Other title matches include the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) defending the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship against Jay White and Lio Rush, and Marty Scurll defending the Ring of Honor World Television Championship against Sonjay Dutt.


DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH: It’s wonderful to see Diamond Dallas Page selected for induction to the WWE Hall of Fame. The Greek God of Wrestling remembers seeing DDP for the first time when he was managing Badd Company (Paul Diamond and Pat Tanaka) in the AWA during the 1980s. He rose to the top of the business through hard work. DDP was never Ricky Steamboat in terms of technical expertise, but few have improved more in the ring during the course of a career. DDP also has helped wrestlers after their careers, most notably Scott Hall and Jake “The Snake” Roberts as they attempted to deal with chronic substance abuse issues.


MISSING FROM HALL: There is a long list of candidates who aren’t yet in the WWE Hall of Fame, particularly with WWE including individuals who were never a major part of WWE. A missed opportunity was failing to induct Ivan Koloff while he was alive.

Here are two of Achilles Heel’s choices for induction. Tony Garea was a five-time tag team champion in WWE (then WWWF and WWF). He spent most of his career in WWE and was a terrific worker. He belongs in the Hall of Fame.

The other candidate I am campaigning for today is Don Leo Jonathan. He was one of the most talented “giants” ever to grace a wrestling ring. He has a brief run in WWE, challenging Bruno Sammartino for the title, but was best known in other parts of the country, winning numerous championships.


FAST AND FURIOUS: WWE will present Fastlane next Sunday (March 5) on WWE Network. In the main event, Kevin Owens will defend the WWE Universal Championship against Goldberg. Expect Brock Lesnar and Chris Jericho to play a role in this match.

There are three other title matches. Bayley will defend the Raw Women’s Championship against former champion Charlotte Flair; Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson will defend the Raw Tag Team Championship against Enzo Amore and Big Cass; and Neville will defend the Cruiserweight Championship against Jack Gallagher. In a non-title match, Roman Reigns squares off with Braun Strowman.


NEW ENGLAND TRIP: CHIKARA will be in New England next weekend, with events Saturday in Kennebunk, Maine, and Sunday in Enfield, Connecticut.


PROVING YOURSELF: Combat Zone Wrestling returns to Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees on Sat., March 11 for Proving Grounds. Scarlet and Graves will defend the CZW Tag Team Championship in a triple threat match against Dub Boys and EYFBO. Matt Tremont and Stockade team up to face Joey Janela and Cannonball.

Side angle of Cody Parkey's missed field goal