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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Peter Laviolette is a big believer in postseason desparation ... and its therapeuting effects on a hockey team.

Party on, P-L: Your team is desperate again.

But there is good desperate, and there is bad desperate. And the Flyers' 7-3 loss to the Bruins in Game 1 didn't have any scent of the good kind.

The goaltenders, plural, were useless. And the defensemen were stale. But it was more than that that sent the Bruins to within three W's of the conference final. It was Boston's physical edge, goaltending edge, speed edge.

Desperate? The Flyers will be just that in Game 2 Monday.

Just leave it at that.

And check out my column in the Sunday Daily Times or on Also, I will provide a glance at Bruin David Krejci, who has a special reason to want to break the Flyers this year.

We can talk about it too ... give me a call (610-632-0975)  Sunday when I host my program from noon until 2 p.m. on 97.5-FM The Fanatic.

Friday, April 29, 2011


The Boston Bruins, it is said, will have revenge on their side when they play an NHL Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Flyers.

It's another way of saying that they lost to the Flyers last year, and in embarrassing fashion, wasting a 3-0 series lead.

Don't buy --- don't ever buy --- that the team with revenge is somehow more capable of winning the rematch. If it was, it would have won the first time.

The Flyers escaped Buffalo, and it wasn't easy. Since they haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1975, apparently winning one is never again going to come to them stress-free.

But they will win this series, in seven. They'll concern themselves with the dreaded double-revenge possibility next year.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


When the Eagles called Danny Watkins Thursday to tell him he was their first round pick, he had an instant reaction: "I thought it was the wrong number."

Of course he did. He's 26. He doesn't have a particular offensive line position. He didn't have lengthy contact with the Eagles during the selection process. He was a fireman who went to junior college and tried out for the football team on something of a lark.

He may be great. That's up to him.

"He's a blue collar guy," Andy Reid said. "The people here will appreciate that."

The draft continues Friday. Maybe they will draft a plumber.

Check out my column on the draft in the Delco Times Friday and on


Check me out on  97.5 The Fanatic Friday from 9 until midnight, and then again Sunday from noon to 2. Topics will include the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Sixers season, the NFL draft, Pacquiao-Mosley and the Phillies. Among my guests Friday will be draft expert Bill Werndl.

Also, caller John from Plymouth Meeting has tied DiMaggio's streak, going 56 straight Jack McCaffery shows totally blasting Jim Calhoun. No one knows why. It's just what he does. Friday, form holding, he will go for the record. And who wants to miss that?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


What the Flyers proved Tuesday with a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres was a grand achievement. But it only served to prove what was evident all along: They were the much better team.

But they missed Chris Pronger, and his presence on the power play. And Ryan Miller, who can be a handful, tossed in a couple of shutouts. And the goaltending, a Flyers carnival act since 1987, was wobbly.

All of which allowed the series to last seven games --- seven games not soon to be forgotten, for it was just long enough for both sides to work up a nice hatred for one another.

At various points in the series, Miller questioned the Flyers' toughness, Lindy Ruff called them whiners, a 331-penalty-minute presence (Zac Rinaldo) was activated from the Phantoms, Danny Briere was heckeled on ice about the particulars of his divorce, Daniel Carcillo had a game-misconduct, Patrick Kaleta opened the bench door just in time to make Nikolay Zherdev skate in, Tim Connolly was scratched with a headache caused by Mike Richards causing the Sabres to beg for a suspension ... and there was even some interesting hockey.

Now, it's over.

It should have been over sooner.

For the fans, though, it was probably best that it wasn't.

Check out my column (and a sidebar on Chris Pronger) on and in the Daily Times Wednesday!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


The Sixers can claim that now.

They can claim that not just because they made the playoffs, but because they proved in the playoffs that they have a young nucleus of guards on which to build a contender.

That doesn't mean they will. They have to be creative with their finances, draft wisely and get a little lucky. But in a sport moving more toward the perimeter every game, the Sixers' young backcourt crowd of Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Lou Williams proved Sunday in a victory over the South Beach Talents that they cuold be one of the best.

Check out my column Monday in the Daily Times and on

Saturday, April 23, 2011


To 97.5 The Fanatic from 8 a.m. to noon Sunday, when I will be hosting my sports talk program.

Topics will include the meltdown of the Flyers, Andre Iguodala, why the Padres pitched to Ryan Howard, the Eagles and their draft.

And if form holds, one particular caller (John from Plymouth Meeting) will chime and and just savage Jim Calhoun. The guy is on a 55-show hitting streak on that topic and apparently wants to catch DiMaggio.

What can I say?

Plenty, as usual.

Don't miss it.

Friday, April 22, 2011


And that would be three (3) of them --- three Flyers goaltenders in five playoff games, including Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton in a 4-3 overtime loss Friday to the Buffalo Sabres.

Does anything change around there? Ever?

To have that deep a forward roster, and so many able defensemen, and to consistently try to win in the playoffs with goaltender-by-feel is absurd.

Did the Flyers learn nothing last season, when they could have won a Stanley Cup, only to have to pull their starting goaltender out of two games in the finals?

Peter Laviolette was asked afterward who he would start in Game 6, Sunday in Buffalo.

"I'll sleep on that, and then probably give you nothing," he said, more humorously than rudely, adding, "business as usual."

Business ... as ... usual.


Check out my column Saturday on and in the Daily Times about the Flyers, some of their longstanding habits, and their decision to run a centerman out there in a pivotal playoff game who had never dressed for a regular-season NHL game.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


As if to prove there is more, much more, to the spectacle of playoff hockey than the allure of a spinning, red goal lamp, the Flyers and Sabres uncorked a classic Wednesday.

There were fights. There were controversial calls. There was spectacular individual athleticism --- from Ryan Miller and Tyler Myers, from Kris Versteeg and Brian Boucher, from everywhere. There was end-to-end passion.

Now, there is a best-of-three hockey series, what with both teams having now won twice.

"A physical series," Chris Pronger walked around the room yelling. "I love it!"

Pronger, with a broken hand, has yet to play in the series. But he was active in the morning skate and appears close. Should he play in Game 5 Friday, the Flyers will benefit from his presence, his physical play and his experience.

The Flyers have played well enough to have swept this series by now. Their problem (stop if you've heard this before): The other team has the better goaltending. And that is not a swipe at Boucher, who was excellent Friday. But as James Van Riemsdyk said, "Ryan Miller is considered one of the best goaltenders in the world for a reason."

One of the best goaltenders played one of the best games Wednesday.

Anyone who didn't like it doesn't like hockey.

Check out the Thursday Daily Times and for my column on Danny Briere, who with 89 points in 90 career playoff games, is right around a special place in hockey history.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Loved this spin on the Flyers' goaltending situation from Phil Heron today on the Heron's Nest:

At the end, an interesting --- and debatable --- point. Phil claims that Peter Laviolette is the best coach in the city.


He has won a Stanley Cup. That thrusts him to the top of the argument. But Charlie Manuel won a World Series.

I still think Doug Collins, and the way he game-plans a basketball game, gets his players to buy into a system and sells his product to the public is a coaching genius. He doesn't have nearly the talent to work with that Laviolette does ... although, yes, he did once coach Michael Jordan without a ring to show for his effort.

What I like about Laviolette is the way he handles his goaltenders just like a basketball coach. In hoops, players come in, out, in, out and in again ... without the need for immediate emotional therapy. So, too, do hockey players, the goaltenders typically excluded.

But Laviolette changes his goaltenders with confidence. He did that in Carolina, where Cam Ward won 15 games in a Cup run. How about the 16th W? That went to Martin Gerber. Why? Laviolette liked the way he'd practiced the day before.

It took guts ... and it worked.

So Laviolette is in the best-in-town coaching discussion.

Just the same, my list: Collins, Manuel, Laviolette.

If I am forgetting anybody for this discussion, the name slips my mind.

BTW: Check out my column on and in the Daily Times Wednesday. It's about how it is becoming more plain by the shift that the Sabres do not have the depth to win the series. I know: They are the No. 7 seed. They are supposed to lose. Still, the talent gap was never as clear between the Flyers and Sabres as when Nikolay Zherdev came out of mothballs to play eight-plus minutes of some of the best hockey on the ice Monday.

Flyers in five.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Make no mistake: The Flyers were under immense stress entering Game 3 of their first-round playoff series in Buffalo. And it showed in many ways at the morning skate.

But then a fountain of calm came flowing from a familar source: Brian Boucher.

It wasn't so much that Boucher made 35 saves, many impressive --- but how he made them that mattered. He stood tall. He played with confidence. He limited rebounds. He even found a convenient moment at which to claim his mask needed adjustment, buying a breather for his defensemen.

The Flyers won, 4-2, and have regained the home-ice edge in the series. But it will be interesting to chart their moods at practice Wednesday. Best guess: A more lively atmosphere.

That's what happens when some pressure is released.

Don't forget to check out my column Tuesday in the Daily Times and on



That's how many people there are in the world.

Given that pool of potential candidates, what were the odds, given everything that happened last spring, that the Flyers would come to another critical playoff game with a goaltending corps of Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton?

Yet such was the case Monday night in the HSBC Arena. As if by destiny, that's what Peter Laviolette had to work with in goal.

And they were serious, too.

“When we re-signed Michael, we thought our goaltending duo would be Leighton and Boucher,” Paul Holmgren said. “Obviously, the dominoes started to fall in training camp when Michael went down with a back injury which required surgery. And with Sergei’s play in training camp and through the start of the year, a different scenario played itself out. So Sergei took advantage of the opportunity with the injury to Michael. Now we are in this spot right now.

“But Michael is a good goalie. He went down to the American League, never complained, played great and got his game back. He’s 100 percent healthy now. And if he gets an opportunity, I think he’ll be fine.”

Just like last year?

Friday, April 15, 2011


Former Daily Times football player of the year Jared Bradley, out of Delaware by the way of Strath Haven High, is heading to Washington, D.C., Saturday for a Canadian Football League tryout.

Bradley, a running back: "I was unable to attend the NFL Pro Day for the University of Delaware do to the NFL rules related to the lockout. I was promised a NFL workout when the lockout is resolved."

Injury-riddled at Delaware, Bradley has returned to top shape.

Might be a good gamble for the CFL ... or higher,


Andre Iguodala practiced Friday with the Sixers, as did Lou Williams. That will make Doug Collins' team healthy for the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Healthy ... but not good enough to win.

Collins spent all week trying to author ways for the Sixers to score enough points to outlast LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. "It looks good on my paper," he said.

But ...

No. Not this year.

Heat in five.

Still, check out my column Saturday on and in the Daily Times about a time when a team with just as many superstars as the Heat failed in a postseason. A certain individual was on that team. Hint: He coaches the Sixers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


The Flyers are down, 1-0, in their playoff series against the Buffalo Sabres. Ryan Miller shut them out. It happens.

But in a long series, all a team can do is one thing: Play as well as possible. The Flyers played well Thursday, generating 79 scoring chances. Didn't happen for them. But it will.

Generate that kind of traffic consistently through a scheduled seven-game series, and you will win.

Make it Flyers in five.


I will be talking Flyers and Phillies Friday morning at about 7:30 with Angelo Cataldi on WIP 610-AM.

Also, I will be chatting with legendary ring announcer and Delco boxing writer Ron Christian, along with Zaughn "Lady Z" Elizabeth, Saturday afternoon between 1 and 2 on WHAT 1340-AM.

Give a listen ...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The Flyers lost five of their last six regular-season games ... sort of. Two were in overtime, one of those a shootout.

“Some of those shootout losses down the stretch, they get twisted,” Peter Laviolette said. “They leave a bad taste in your mouth when you actually didn’t play that bad.”

He's right.

And not that one game matters, but the Flyers were lively in a 7-4 victory over the Islanders to close the season. They had lousy goaltending. But they were lively ... lively enough to hint that they are ready for a hot streak.

How hot?

How's four games sound?

Flyers over the Sabres in four.

And check out the Daily Times and Thursday for my column on the pressures the Flyers now face, and for the story about the mysterous pre-playoff practice absense of Mike Richards.

Monday, April 11, 2011


The Sixers are headed to the playoffs, and Jrue Holiday is their point guard. Thus, it is official: Ed Stefanski is off the hook for deciding not to re-sign Andre Miller two years ago.

It was a tough decision for Stefanski at the time. Believe it: He wrestled with it. But the price was too high ... and the potential of Holiday was high, too.

So the Sixers took a chance, made Holiday their point guard and hoped they wouldn't be haunted by Miller.

By the way: When is the last time anyone asked about Andre Miller?

To the playoffs, then, it is ... with a confident Holiday, who tabbed 15 points and 11 assists Monday in a 95-85 loss to the Magic.

Just as Ed Stefanski figured all along ....

Check out my column Tuesday in the Daily Times and on

Saturday, April 9, 2011


That's what the Flyers turned Philadelphia into with a 7-4 victory over the New York Islanders Saturday, good for the Atlantic Division championship.

The first-place finish was the 16th in Flyers history ... but 13 of the first 15 didn't translate into a championship.

This year?

Put it this way: 82 games in, and there was Peter Laviolette still yanking his starting goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky, out of the game.

But the Flyers were active Saturday, and seemed delighted with their divisioin championship. In that, for the second consecutive year, they will roll into the playoffs on a one-game winning streak.

One of these years, they are going to roll out of them that way, too.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


The losing streak is at three, the potential for a winning season threatened, the Sixers hurting on the perimeter.

With three games left, including one Friday against the visiting Toronto Raptors, might Doug Collins consider a lineup shift?

That would be a negative.

“No,” Collins said Thursday, after practice at PCOM. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. We were 3-and-13 and I didn’t change the lineup. A losing streak? We lost at Milwaukee. We lost at Boston. And we lost to the Knicks. To me, this is not a losing streak. I don’t look at it that way at all.

“There is absolutely no way I would change our starting lineup. Absolutely no way.”

All of which means Thaddeus Young will continue to spring from the bench, despite a spectacular effort in the Sixers' 97-92 loss to the Knicks Wednesday.

“I’m still kind of playing ‘starter’ minutes,” Young said. “It really doesn’t matter whether I come off the bench or if I am a starter. I am just going to go out there and do things I know how to do, try to stay positive about everything and just try to help my team win games.”

So it will be Friday, a starting lineup of Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes, Jodie Meeks and Jrue Holiday.

Iguodala will start despite resting his sore right knee Thursday. Lou Williams (hamstring) remains unavailable, with the Sixers hoping to have him back for the playoffs which will begin next weekend.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


The Sixers are headed to the playoffs. But will they be able to out-score anyone, once they are there?

That's the problem as the season winds down. And Doug Collins made it a point Wednesday that the only way his team can win now and in the postseason is with determined defense.

It almost worked Wednesday in a terrific game in the Wells Fargo Center, won by the Knicks, 97-92. In overturning a 19-point deficit to take a late lead, the Sixers challenged jump shooters, complicated New York's task at the offensive end, and got out and ran.

They didn't win. But they showed how they might be able to win in the postseason.

Check out my column Thursday in the Daily Times and on