Blogs > In The Room with Anthony SanFilippo

Daily Times beat writer Anthony J. SanFilippo takes you inside the locker rooms of the Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of the NHL.

Friday, January 30, 2009


The Eagles have made some coaching changes....

James Urban will be upgraded from Offensive Assistant/Quality Control coach to quarterbacks coach, replacing Pat Shurmur who moved to St. Louis last week as an offensive coordinator.

Former Eagles quarterback Doug Pederson, who was hired last week, takes over Urban's old post.

Defensive line coach Pete Jenkins retired... again, and is being replaced by former special teams coach Rory Segrest.

The Eagles hired former special teams assistant Ted Daisher to take over Segrest's position as Special Teams coach. Daisher was with the Eagles in 2004-05. He later went to Oakland and Cleveland, but lost his job when the Browns eviscerated their entire coaching staff.

Wide Receivers coach David Culley keeps his title, but now has more responsibility with the offensive gameplanning.

Also... and you all are going to hate this one....

Ticket prices will be increasing next season.

Most seats will have a $5 per game increase, but lower level endzone seats will go up $10 per ticket.

The Eagles did not raise ticket prices last season and were ranked 15th in the NFL in the average cost of ducats in 2008.

Check tomorrow's Daily Times for more on this story.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


The answer today is Tampa, Florida.

I awoke before dawn and drove the four hours from Ft. Lauderdale to Tampa in anticipation of two events - the Flyers visiting the Lightning tomorrow night and Super Bowl XLIII Sunday between Pittsburgh and Arizona.

I will be pulling double duty over the next couple days trying to split myself in half and cover both events. It's not going to be easy.

The Flyers news of the day is the struggles of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter lately as opponents seems to have slowed the two down in recent games and the Flyers have struggled.

Both shrugged it off as nothing. Both insist they are fine health wise, although Carter has a cut on his right hand from the game in Florida Tuesday and Richards seems to be nursing a sore shoulder.

But since it was a topic of conversation, and since the two are quite competitive, look for them to try and breakout of their "slumps" tomorrow against Tampa.

As for the Super Bowl, what a fiasco this whole experience is.

Maybe it's because I'm a first-timer. Maybe it's because I'm used to the way things are in hockey and this is completely different. Or maybe it's because I'm from a city that doesn't have a team playing in the game, but the city of Tampa is in gridlock with thousands of people descending on it both as fans and as media.

When I arrived at my hotel this morning at 9:30 a.m. I had already missed the Arizona Cardinals media availability.

The NFL blocked off rooms in eight hotels for this event, but my room wasn't going to be ready until lunch time, so I needed to check all my luggage with the concierge and hustle several blocks to the Tampa Convention Center to pick up my credentials.

Although when I got there, I was given a non-game day credential which means I have to go back later this weekend to pick up a game-day credential.

I then hooked it back to the hotel where a shuttle was leaving or Steelers practice, but I missed it.

So I had to get directions to the University of South Florida, where the team was practicing, find my rental car, and drag my already tired bones out there on my own.

New issues arose. Traffic. Security. Parking. And rain.

The one positive is the NFL has about one zillion employees crawling through this town and are able to help with getting information from sessions that might have been missed (Can't wait to read the Bruce Springsteen and Faith Hill quotes about singing at the Super Bowl later today)!

Anyway, now that I have the lay of the land, tomorrow should be a better day. I plan on chatting with Donovan McNabb tomorrow as well as possibly Brian Dawkins, a finalist for NFL Man of the Year.

Then there's NFL Comissioner Roger Goodell's state of the league address, as well as more press conferences from the Cards and Steelers.

Oh yeah... there's a hockey game tomorrow night too.

I think a nap is in order later this afternoon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The crazy saga surrounding Danny Briere's groin took a strange turn Wednesday.

Briere will undergo exploratory surgery Thursday to see what is bothering him and why he's not feeling quite right.

It is unknown what the problem is, but Briere will be out of the lineup for at least two weeks, and at the most it will be six weeks.

More to come...


Braydon Coburn wants some pub.

Here's how he goes about getting it.

I'm standing outside the Flyers' locker room at their practice facility in Voorhees, N.J. Tuesday minding my own business waiting for general manager Paul Holmgren to come talk to us in tongues about the whole salary cap fiasco surrounding Danny Briere when I get a punch in the arm.

It wasn't a hard punch, but it was one of those jabs that lets you know it would have hurt if it were any harder - and that there could be a lot more behind it.

Startled, I turned to my right to see Braydon Coburn hovering over me.

"I read your story," he said.

Immediately I begin to wrack my brain for something I wrote about him that was negative. I can't come up with anything.

"The column you wrote about the draft class of 2003," he said.

Wait a second... I had nothing but good things to say about Coburn in that story.

"You give Richie and Carts credit for winning that gold medal for Canada in World Juniors but I guess you forgot I was on that team," he says with a smile.

I now realize He's breaking them for me.

Not wanting to miss a chance to give it right back to him, I feigned a quizzical expression and said, "You were on that team?"

Coburn threw his hands up in disbelief. "Are you kidding me?" He asked.

"Yes, I am," I said. "I guess you defensemen just get overlooked sometimes."

He was still perplexed.

"Overlooked," he asked. "Do you know what I had to do? I had to shut down (Evgeni) Malkin in that game?"

At which point, I offered up an insincere mea culpa that was enough for Coburn. But I promised him I'd address it. I got one quick sentence into my notes at the bottom of the Danny Briere story in today's edition of the paper, but I have now also dedicated an entire blog to it.

The thing is, he's right. He was an absolute defensive stud for that Canadian squad. As talented as they were, they did need to rely on defense, especially against the highly-skilled Russians, to earn that gold.

Happy now Braydon?

Friday, January 16, 2009


He's played with a blood clot in his foot. He's played with a chipped bone in his ankle. So what's 25 stitches in his lip?

Kimmo Timonen will be in the Flyers lineup tonight against Florida less than 24 hours after getting hit in the face by a Mike Richards slap shot.

He's one of the toughest warriors in the sport, bar none.

Also, look for Antero Niittymaki to start at least the next two games and Marty Biron not to see time until afte the All-Star break.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Obviously the Flyers need a little more time to figure out their salary cap situation.

Why else would they need to send Danny Briere on a rehab assignment to the AHL?

This isn't completely unconventional, but at the same time, it's not a practice that has been regular in the past. Players coming off injuries have usually just jumped right back into the lineup - especially a player of star-quality like Briere.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said Briere would play two games with the Phantoms - Wednesday and Friday - before returning to the Flyers.

Curious timing on all this - especially with the Flyers having four days off after Friday's game before one game with Atlanta the following week and then the All-Star break. That gives Holmgren a lot of extra time to figure out how all this is going to work.

Holmgren released a statement this morning saying Briere was completely receptive of the idea, but I can't imagine that's the case.

Just yesterday, Briere told reporters he could probably play tonight against Pittsburgh but wanted a couple more practices before he returned and was looking at one of the games in Florida later this week.

Problem is, the Flyers are having a hard time creating enough room for Briere on the roster salary-wise.

They may deny that, but it's the only thing that makes sense right now.

Holmgren has insisted the Flyers only need to clear "about 2 million" off their salary figure to get Briere back on the active roster, but that number is likely closer to $3 million, if not more.

Here's the breakdown of the cap hit of active Flyers' players, and then some math to prove Holmgren's numbers a bit faulty.

All salaries are in millions of dollars

Kimmo Timonen $6.333
Mike Richards $5.750
Simon Gagne $5.250
Jeff Carter $5.000
Scott Hartnell $4.200
Marty Biron $3.500
Matt Carle $2.902
Mike Knuble $2.800
Randy Jones $2.750
Joffrey Lupul $2.312
Braydon Coburn $1.300
Andrew Alberts $1.250
Antero Niittymaki $1.225
Scottie Upshall $1.225
Ossi Vaananen $1.000
Glen Metropolit $1.000
Lasse Kukkonen $0.875
Luca Sbisa $0.875
Andreas Nodl $0.731
Arron Asham $0.625
Riley Cote $0.550
Claude Giroux $0.477
Darroll Powe $0.450

Those salaries add up to $52.380 million. However, the Flyers are also on the hook for money spent on players who played for the Flyers this season but are not currently with the team. Those estimated figures are as follows:

Steve Eminger $0.187
Steve Downie $0.062
Jared Ross $0.054
Scott Munroe $0.026
Nate Raduns $0.009
Boyd Kane $0.008

That brings the total to $52.726 million, which is slightly less than $4 million below the cap number.

Jonathon Kalinski ($583,000 cap hit) and Josh Gratton ($411,000 cap hit) are both on the long-term injury list, so their salaries are excluded.

What remains unknown is how much, if any, players like Ryan Parent and Josh Beaulieu counted against the cap. They were both injured in preseason and the date they were actually placed on long-term IR is not available.

According to, a very reliable salary cap Web site, despite a disclaimer protecting their information to the contrary, the Flyers had to count Beaulieu for 36 days on their cap, creating a cap hit of $96,000, and carried Ryan Parent on their roster for 80 days, creating a cap hit of $368,000.

With those numbers, an additional $464,000 is added to the Flyers $52.726 salary base, bringing the total to $53.19 million.

That would leave the Flyers $3.51 million under the cap. Briere costs them $6.50 million. Meaning $3 million would have to be cleared out for Briere to return.

Even considering sending Kukkonen to the Phantoms now that he's cleared waivers, and sending Sbisa back to junior hockey, that's still nowhere close to the number they need to get to.

They could also send a pair of forwards with two-way contracts back to the Phantoms, Andreas Nodl and Claude Giroux would give them the most cap room, but both would have pro-rated numbers count against the cap based on time spent with the big club. This is the difference between NHL-only and two-way contracts for minor league players.

Also, that would leave them really thin on active numbers with only 2o players on the roster.

Even then, the Flyers will have only made up about $2.6 million, and would have to find another $500,000 or so to shed.

They couldn't send another guy to the Phantoms, because they'd then be short players, so the only alternatives are to try an waive another player, clear him through, send him to the Phantoms and replace him with a more cost effective minor league player, or make a trade.

Obviously, that's why Holmgren needs time. That's why he has to hold Briere out for at least another week. Not because Briere isn't ready, but because the team isn't ready for Briere.

Ultimately, this works out for the organization, because it gets Briere back in game condition and buys them time, but the precedent for star players coming back have rarely included a short jaunt to the AHL at a conveniently opportune point in the schedule.

But, don't be bamboozled. Holmgren needed time to get the house in order. And oh yeah, despite what Holmgren said, don't believe Briere is all peachy-keen about going back to the AHL on a conditioning assignment when he's been busting his butt in practice with the Flyers for a couple weeks now.

At least, that's what my sense of it is. And frankly, numbers don't lie.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Looks like Lasse Kukkonen has played his last game as a Flyer - at least for this season.

The Flyers waived Kukkonen... again... and if he goes unclaimed will be loaned to the Phantoms of the AHL when Danny Briere comes back... which Paul Holmgren just told me is within the next week (look for Tuesday against Pittsburgh).

Holmgren also insisted the Flyers are only 2 million under the cap, but several reports are still saying the number is closer to 4 million.

Anyway, I also got the feeling that Luca Sbisa will be sent back to his junior team. This would help with some of the salary issues as well.

I'll have more on this tomorrow.....


Well Jeff Carter made it....



Guess you're waiting for me to throw another name or two at you? Well, don't hold your breath.

In what has become the biggest joke in professional sports, the NHL All-Star game has left several of the league's top players off their rosters, including three deserving Flyers - Simon Gagne, Mike Richards and Kimmo Timonen.

But it's not just Flyers' players that got stiffed.

The Devils' Patrik Elias is tied for fifth in the league in scoring with 46 points and he's not on the roster. Washington's Nicklas Backstrom has 45 points, is in the top 10 in the league in scoring and is also among the missing.

And how about the duo of David Krejci and Phil Kessel in Boston who each have 41 points and are a big reason why the Bruins have the best record in hockey at the halfway point.

On defense, where's the Caps Mike Green, who leads all Eastern defensemen with 10 goals? How about Boston's Dennis Wideman who not only is ninth in the NHL in points among defensemen with 26 (only six behind league leaders and All-Stars Dan Boyle and Mark Streit who have 32) and also leads the NHL with a plus-25 rating?

The biggest problems are allowing fans from certain cities to stuff the ballot boxes and limiting the roster to 21 players per side.

It's understandable that the league wants at least one player from each team, so expand the rosters then. That's what they do in the other sports. Would it be so wrong to expand the rosters to say 26 players for one exhibition game to make sure the most deserving players are in?

And if it's a logistical concern for space on the bench, allow teams to dress 21 per period and sub guys out between periods or something.

Also, does the league really think by allowing fans in Montreal to dictate who's starting the All-Star game that it's going to appeal to casual fans in the U.S?

Here's a prediction - the All-Star Game rating will be utterly minuscule this year. Another disaster by a league office that has no bleeping clue how to market itself properly.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


First of all.... Happy New Year to you all. I'm happy to be back with the team after a short hiatus when they went West and I went North to visit Sarah's family.

I re-joined the team in Washington last night and needed to get my feet wet again before getting back to the blog.

Anyway, what a game. Best game of the year - even though the Flyers lost. That's hockey at it's best. Both teams were sensational. The Flyers and Caps really match up well against one another. I wish they could play each other more often.

Anyone in favor of an Eastern Conference Final?

Anyway.... back to the headline of this blog.

Today the NHL All-Star teams will be finalized and the Flyers deserve to have four players in the game.

Hell, if the Montreal Canadiens can have four players start, three of which don't even deserve to be on the team to begin with, then the Flyers should have four players make the squad based on performance.

Jeff Carter is a definite. He leads the league in goals and is in the top 10 in points.

Mike Richards should be too.

The big questions are Simon Gagne and Kimmo Timonen, but there's no doubt they both deserve it.

Gagne is averaging a point per game and leads the league in plus/minus. He may be the best two-way player in the East.

As for Timonen, he is incredibly underappreciated, and yet, he's one of the top five defensemen in the game in my book.

He's a disciplined defensive warrior and offensively skilled at the same time.

He deserves to go ahead of both starters (Montreal's Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek).

Problem is, there needs to be at least one player from each team, which could leave Timonen and Gagne on the outs.

That would be an injustice. The Flyers are a first place team for a reason. Gagne and Timonen are two of the four biggest reasons this season.