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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.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Craig Berube met with the press prior to the Flyers-Penguins game Tuesday.

This was the conversation:

What are your defensive parings?
“Watch warmups.”

Is Colaiacovo hurt or able to play and just out?
“I don’t know. Who said he was out? Just watch warmups. I didn’t say anything.”

So Schultz is the only one out?
“He’s out.”

How did he get hurt?
“I don’t know.”

So you’ll have seven defensemen in warmups and choose?

Reports on Manning and Lauridsen?
“Manning has had a very good year. He’s an all-situations player down there.  We’d had him up here before. The last couple years,  he’s done a good job when he’s up here. Oliver’s been up here. Two years ago he was up here and played two games at the end of the year and did a good job. He’s a big body. And that’s one of the decisions, having a big body up here.”

Is it appealing that he is a physical player?
“It’s nice to have a physical guy who can skate back there.”

How important is it to win and feel good going into the long break?
“It’s huge, just like any. We’re always trying to get a win. But it’s a big game, for sure, going into the break against Pittsburgh, obviously.  So it’s going to give us momentum coming out of the break, for sure.”

Is it a good time to get these guys because they will be locked-in to play Pittsburgh?
“Definitely. We have had success over Pittsburgh the last couple  years, first of all checking them and being good without the puck against Crosby and Malkin and those guys. And special teams will be big tonight. They have a great power play and we have to make sure we stay out of the box and kill penalties.”

Two All-Stars in top five in the league in scoring …
“They have played really well all year. Very consistent. They both work extremely hard, game in and game out. And that’s the real reason for their success.  When you’ve got skilled players like them, and smart players like Jake and G and they put in the hard work, and with the competitiveness of them, they will have success.”

Voracek had 62 points last year, yet still leading the league this year. Surprised?
“Well, not really. You watch him night in and night out and you see the hard work and the effort, and I think that his game has just gone to another level this year. He shoots more pucks , and that’s a big key. I think in the past he was reluctant to shoot. He shoots more pucks. He get s more pucks to the net and gets to the net more.”

Would missing the playoffs be a lost opportunity with the years that they are having?
“Any time you don’t make the playoffs it is a lost opportunity.”

How about how it relates to Voracek and Giroux?
“Well, there have been lots of players who have had great years and their teams missed the playoffs. 
The most important thing is making the playoffs and trying to win a Stanley Cup. And that’s the most important thing for them, too.”

When you are not getting the results, is there a certain anger you want to see from these guys, showing that it is unacceptable to them?
“I don’t think it is. I don’t think they accept it. I don’t know if anger is the right word to use. It’s more that we’ve got to play more consistent. And we have to be more competitive on a consistent basis. That’s the biggest thing.”

Giroux’s year?
“Along with Jake, hard work, has been a real good leader for us. I think he leads by example every night on the ice. And that’s what captains are supposed to do, and he does it, and he is producing. He’s had a real good year. I think his game is really more rounded than it was last year. He is a better defensive player than he was last year, in my opinion. Faceoffs, one of the tops in the league. A lot of little things he does every night.”

Stamkos and St. Louis are the only guys who were 1-2 in scoring and missed the playoffs ever … to be that high, and where the Flyers are, is that crazy in this day and age, where everyone is keying on them?

“Well, I just kind of answered that question. There’s been players in the league that have done it before.  Just named a couple of them. You can have success individually with your stats but the team not have success. And I know that doesn’t sit well with anybody, including them.”

Expand on being more competitive? Do some teams lack a competitive streak?
“It boils down to individuals at times in games where you make a mistake because maybe you’re not as competitive as you should be, you know? Winning a battle here or there. It’s all what it boils down to. Hockey is about mistakes and a lot of one-on-one battles and little things that come up in a game.  We don’t have enough secondary scoring, well, we’ve got to work harder to get secondary scoring. It’s about getting to the net more and doing little things like that. So that’s what it boils down to.”

Decision to start Emery?
“I had that decision made before the Islanders game.”

Friday, January 16, 2015


The 111th Philadelphia Sports Writers Association Dinner is Friday, Jan. 16, at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill.

The event is open to the public and tickets are available at the door.

Among the honored guests will be Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds, Kimmo Timonen and Charlie Manuel.

The annual Most Courageous Athlete Award will be presented. It often generates national attention.

The banquet starts at 6.

For more info, go to

Monday, January 12, 2015


Craig Berube met with the press before the Flyers' game Monday against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

The conversation:

Has the goalie situation been a burden this year, with Steve Mason hurt again?

“Well, he's been pretty healthy. He missed some time before Christmas with his back and stuff. And now obviously he has this injury. It's part of hockey. You get injuries and you have to deal with them and you have to find ways to win games with certain guys or not. It doesn't really matter. You've still got to find ways to win.

“We can't worry or feel sorry about not having Mason. We have other goalies who are going to do the job.”

What do you like about Rob Zepp?

“I haven't seen him a whole lot. (There was) training camp. And again, going back to camp, he was always in position, and his quickness in net. He's a competitive guy. I think (against) Winnipeg his competitiveness gave us an opportunity to win the game. To be honest with you, he made a great save in the second period. That's just sheer will on that play. He has god structure and he moves well.”

You have shown patience with Scott Laughton on the second line, where do you go from here?

“The other option is moving Brayden Schenn back there, and Vinny. And Vinny's been pretty successful on that line where he is at. I like him there. And Brayden is up there on a line with Giroux and Voracek. So I think Laughton is still skating well. He's doing some good things. I know the points and the production are not there. But he is not hurting us. He's doing a lot of good things out there and when you have a young guy like that, it's hard to produce in this league. He's getting some opportunities here and there, but he is doing a good job. He skates well and he is being physical. He kills some penalties now and then.

“So there are not a lot of options, I guess. I guess you could move Brayden Schenn back there but I hate moving him around all the time.”

Do you expect more playmaking ability out of him?

“Oh, definitely. He is a good player and he has a lot of skill. Over time, that's going to come out.”

Guys saying they are playing better but wins haven't been coming. What do you have to see?

“Well, I don't think we've scored enough goals. I am talking about secondary scoring, timely scoring. This last game, Boston, it was a tight-checking game, but we had some power plays and we didn't create and momentum and didn't get anything done until late in the third period. We ended up getting a goal, finally.

“But our power play could have been the difference in that game, early on in the game. Get a goal here or there and it's a different game. Just more timely scoring, I think. We have been playing pretty good defensive hockey. And we are in all these games. I think we are competing hard, but we need more scoring.
Is it a scary thought to think where you would be without two of the top five scorers in the league?

“Well, you could say that about a lot of teams. But we need some more production and some more timely scoring, for sure.”

Are you getting enough forechecking pressure and creating enough turnovers?

“I think so. I think when we look at the tapes and go over them after, and chances for and against, they are right there. We are doing a lot of good things. But in the end, it doesn't matter. It comes down to wins and losses.”

On Matt Read, who has not been scoring …

“It's been tough. He’s obviously picked it up, though, his game. He’s more competitive. I thought he had a real good game against Boston. He had a couple of real good chances, a breakaway and a couple of other opportunities. That’s the Read that I know, that we’ve had for the last two years where he produced 24 goals or whatever it was using his speed and being a competitive guy. He’s got good speed and he has to bring that with his competitiveness.”

Is he hurt? And didn't you say he was playing through a leg injury earlier?

“I would never say what kind of injury a guy had first of all unless you already knew, so it wasn’t me. He might have said something about a leg injury.”

Now? Anything?


His skating looks different …

“I don’t know anything like that. I really don’t.”

His shots were way down early in the season …

“I haven't thought their line has shot the puck enough all year. I’ve been harping on it to get more pucks to the net. That’s how you score goals. You’ve got to shoot the puck and you’ve got to get some traffic there.

The penalty-killing play has been bad for Read, too. Is the scoring slump bothering him?

“Yeah, I think his whole game has been hurt this year with that. Looking at his stats, that probably affects his penalty killing at times, too. But lately Matt’s been a better player --- the player that we know.”

There was a low number of shots on goal from the opposition last game. Can that carry over?

“I think you can look quite a ways now where we’ve played real good tight-checking hockey and did a good job defensively. But again, we’re not producing enough offensively as a team. Now we need more timing scoring. That’s the bottom line. We need more timely scoring.”

Do you still believe in the team, 11 points out of a playoff spot, second half of the season, with the East better?

“I’m not going to question our team. They’re working and they’re competing and they’re good players. It’s a good team. We haven’t found ways to win enough hockey games up to this point. That’s the bottom line. Whether we need a save here or a goal here, it’s just a chemistry thing.

“Mason’s played well and we don’t score enough goals for him. If we score enough goals and they let a goal in that they shouldn’t have. It's just different things that pop up. But the team? Of course I believe in this team. It’s most of the same guys from last year, and I know that they’re capable of doing that job and we've got to get on a roll.”

Did you talk to Ray Emery about going with Zepp tonight? What about the perception?

“Jeff Reese deals with the goals one on one with them, so it was all taken care of.”

Thursday, January 1, 2015


For his ability to lead game-winning drives, for his Walter Payton Award as the best player in the FCS, and because he brought the most positive sports attention to Delaware County in 2014, Villanova quarterback John Robertson is the Daily Times Sports Figure of the Year.
He becomes the fifth Villanova sports figure since 1996 to win the award, and the third from the Villanova football program, joining Andy Talley (2009) and Matt Szczur (2010).
“I think it is a great experience,” Robertson said. “Getting your name out there with the great people who have won the award in the past is humbling. To have your name included with those people, it is just a great honor.”

The previous winners:

1996: Kate Fonshell, Penncrest High, Villanova, track
1997: John Mobley, Chichester High, football
1998: Bo Ryan, Chester High, basketball
1999: Pat Croce, Lansdowne-Aldan High, basketball
1999: Leroy Burrell, Penn Wood High, Sports Figure of the Millennium, track
2000: Emily deRiel, Haverford High, pentathlon
2001: Brendan Hansen, Haverford High, swimming
2002: Mike Scioscia, Springfield High, baseball
2003: Harry Perretta, Monsignor Bonner High, Villanova, basketball
2004: Brendan Hansen, Haverford High, swimming
2005: Kevin Clancy, Strath Haven High, football
2006: Vince Papale, Interboro High, football
2007: Dan Connor, Strath Haven High, football
2008: Fred Pickett, Chester High, basketball
2009: Andy Talley, Haverford High, Villanova, football
2010: Matt Szczur, Villanova, football, baseball
2011: Philadelphia Union, Chester, soccer
2012: Larry Yarbray, Chester High, basketball
2013: Merion Golf Club, Haverford, golf
2014: John Robertson, Villanova, football