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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.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Lurie: Still a 'long way to go'

ARLINGTON, Texas --- About a year ago Sunday night, Jeffrey Lurie was being hustled in and out of an Eagles locker room, trying to avoid the inevitable questioning and trying to avoid the many jabbing, pointing fingers of blame.
A year later, he was in the middle of an Eagles locker room, accepting handshakes, the owner of an NFC East championship team.
“What can I say?” Lurie said after the Birds' 24-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. “It's a big difference. But when you are down, it gives you an opportunity to change things. And we had one losing season last year and it drove us all to try to make a great decision on who we wanted to lead the way out of that and onto bigger things.
“You've got to really analyze it and make a bold decision. And we wanted to make a bold decision.”
A day after the Eagles ended their 4-12 2012 season, Lurie fired Andy Reid, his friend, his coach for 14 years. He would replace him with Chip Kelly, from the University of Oregon, with exactly 14 fewer years than Reid as an NFL head coach.
The result: A 10-6 season, the division championship and a first-round playoff game scheduled against the New Orleans Saints Saturday night in the Linc.
“I didn't have any worries that Chip would not be able to translate to the NFL,” Lurie said. “That was the least of my concerns.”
In Kelly, Lurie would invest in a different offense, a faster one, one more dedicated to the run. Kelly would make some personnel changes, some scheme changes and some changes that were even more subtle.
“A new offense, a new defense, hiring great people,” Lurie said. “And the main thing when you change coaches, and we do it so rarely, is to institute a new program and a new culture. And it is, 'Can you create it?', and, 'Can you get it across?'”
In Lurie's view, that's what Kelly had done, regenerating a positive spirit just 365 days after so many hard feelings would be followed by so many hard choices.
“This locker room is as good as it gets in sports,” Lurie said. “And I think that is a credit to the coaches and to the players. There is amazing chemistry and it is an incredible locker room. And that is a big part of sports.
“There is just so much to Chip,” Lurie added. “Obviously, he is extremely bright. But what you really saw was leadership at all times, whether you are riding high or riding low, facing big obstacles or small obstacles. At all times, Chip brings people together. He brings players together, coaches together. And that's what we are looking for. It's not easy to change coaches and find a coach that you really want go go after. But we were patient and went after Chip.”
Lurie was patient in the selection process. But 17 weeks later, he was a bit less calm.
“It was extremely nerve-wracking,” he said of the division-clinching game. “That would be an understatement. I expected it to be this way. I didn't expect it to be an easy game.”
The two-point victory was not easy, nor was the division championship, which required an entire regular season to achieve.
And, yes, Lurie knows that there are some other championships, plural, that he has semi-promised and continues to stalk.
“Again, a big win tonight, winning the division in Chip's first year,” Lurie said. “It's spectacular. But we have a long way to go --- a long way to go.”

Monday, December 23, 2013

Berube: Grossmann, Meszaros ready to go

Craig Berube met with the press shortly before the Flyers-Wild game tonight in the Wells Fargo Center.

This is a transcript:

Is Nicklas Grossmann good to go tonight?


How much have you missed his physical presence up front?

"I think you always miss Gross. You like the way he plays defensively and killing penalties and shot-blocking. He has been a real good player for us all year."

What is the state of being able to clear people from out in front in the NHL?

"It's a fine line. I think that when you can you've got to do it before you get to the net. Like, guys coming out of corners, you see a guy coming, you see a shot, when he is already there and established I think in that situation you maybe want to step in front of it and try to block a shot."

Claude Giroux has been hot. Has he found a home on that line with Jake Voracek and Michael Raffl?

"Well, I think you keep it together as long as it is producing. I mean, you've always got to make sure your top guys are producing. So, we'll see how they do. I don't see why they wouldn't keep producing. Like I said before, the line has a little bit of everything, and they seem to have good chemistry, and hopefully it continues."

Once, Giroux was called the "best player in the world". Is he nearing that again?

"I didn't say that. I don't even remember what I thought when it was said. Whatever."

Just that he is playing so well now?

"He's a good player."

Steve Mason in tonight?


Has Grossmann been your most consistent defenseman since Day 1?

"I mean, for what he does, I think him and Coby (Braydon Coburn) have done a good job defensively, both of them. Both are killing penalties and playing against good players on other teams. They have big bodies. They are physical. They are moving the puck good, both of them. I think they have been good, real good."

Is Andrej Meszaros ready to get more time?

"He's in tonight."

What are you looking for from him?

"He's got the potential to do everything, with his skating and his puck-movement and stuff. But we just want Mez to compete and compete hard. That's the biggest thing."

Is he up to speed now?

"Well, yeah."

Two, three years ago, he was really good?

"Yeah, well, he has had a lot of injuries over the last year and a half or whatever. But we need him. We need him right now. We need him to step up big."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

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Saturday, December 21, 2013


Tim Witherspoon Jr., the son of the former heavyweight champion of the world, will fight tonight at the Marple Sports Arena.

First bell is at 7:30. Tickets are $25.

From the promoters, here is a bout sheet:

Tim Witherspoon Jr. 149 - Josue Rivera 148
Allen Burris 150 - Anthony Abbruzzese 150
Evencii Dixon 149 - Sukharb Shadiev 149 1/2
Mike Moore 197 - Brian Donahue 186
Lonnie Jackson 135 - Christian Steele 136

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Berube before Flyers-Capitals game

Craig Berube met with the press, shortly before the Flyers-Capitals game Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center.

This was the conversation:

Is it good to get right back at it after losing that last game against them Sunday?

"Yeah. I agree. It is always good to get back quickly and play. And I know the guys are hungry to get back and play too."

When you go back and watch the end of that game, what do you learn?

"I said it before: I didn't think there was a whole lot wrong. We weren't under siege or under pressure. Like I said, I thought we stopped making some plays. The plays were there to be made and it would have put us down in their end and put some more pressure on them, and we didn't do that."

Any thought to go to Ray Emery tonight, and what was behind the decision to go with Steve Mason?

"We had a plan and it was Steve all along."

Same lineup tonight?


Sunday, December 15, 2013

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

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