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The Constant Truth, Volume 32
By Clayton Ruley
 
For The Flyers The Same Questions Persist

The Philadelphia Flyers need to make some decisions this off-season after losing in the first round when many expected them to compete for the championship. One decision to make is whether they trade for a goalie who can win it all, sign one or resign Martin Biron or Antero Nittimaki, who have both shown to be (at most) decent regular season goalies who aren't Stanley Cup run ready.

Names I've heard are Jean Sebastien Giguere of the Anaheim Ducks who is stuck as a back up to young upstart Jonas HIller or Ray Emery the often off the ice troubled goalie formerly of the Ottawa Senators who recently played in Russia. Both Giguere and Emery have led their teams to the Stanley Cup Finals with Giguere winning it all in 2007.

I'd like to see the Flyers make a move for Giguere but Emery wouldn't be a bad pickup if the team believes it has the structure Emery needs to thrive. The Flyers have always been known as a tough team and Emery would certainly fit well in that aspect. No one questions he is extremely talented and with good direction you could get a steal. Without it though good direction, the team could regret bringing him in.

Giguere is questionable because you wonder whether he's out of gas but I think it's more about being cold at the wrong time. Giguere signed a new 4-year deal with Anaheim in 2007 so they believed he was good then and I'd trade for him if he's available.

Cup winning goalies don't grow on trees and the Flyers would clear up any discussion on who the goalie is (a question since Ron Hextall left). The Flyers also need to bring in some defensemen to support the goalie and not leave him on an island.

The Flyers certainly have the scoring needed to compete in the next few seasons but defensemen and goalie have been two positions that the Flyers have struggled to fill over the years and the team may have to sacrifice some scoring to bring in players to fill those roles. The players moved to get the salary cap in order after Daniel Briere came back off injury was ridiculous and Briere isn't even a superstar! The team gave up Scottie Upshall for a bag of quarters namely Daniel Carcillo, who took bad penalities and got beat up when he was supposed to be an enforcer. Move like that can't be made in the future.

While I don't want a return to the big bad "Broad Street Bullies" of the past. I'd rather sure up the defense and goalie position than have the mess that was this past season for the sake of scoring. One thing is for certain...team owner Ed Snider is willing to pay for what he wants and will allow general manager Paul Holmgren the funds and flexibility to make this team more competitive and well rounded going in to next season.

A Brief View of The Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies are hitting well and have had one of their few winning April months without their pitching helping them. This will change and I think the Phillies will again place themselves in a position to win in September.

Ryan Howard is around the .300 mark and while Jimmy Rollins is struggling I don't expect that to remain the same as the weather picks up. Raul Ibanez has made the people forget about Pat ("The Bat") Burrell in left field and at the plate hitting for power, average and fielding well also. Chase Utley seems back from his off-season hip surgery and Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth have continued to prove that they are everyday players in the big leagues.

The bullpen is playing well and compensating for the 50 game loss of J.C. Romero (to suspension) with boosted up innings from Clay Condrey and new pitcher Jack Taschner has done well to fit in. The fifth starting spot is still up in the air as Chan Ho Park has looked bad thus far but it's good to know that there are a few arms available to step in if needed in bullpen guy J.A. Happ and Triple A pitcher Carlo Carrasco if they want to give the rookie the ball.

Phillies fans don't need to sweat just yet. This team should see better days from it's starters in the coming months and has some options for once if things don't work as planned.

Harry The K You Were The Man
The Philadelphia sports scene, heck the national scene as well, lost a legend in Harry Kalas. Not only was Kalas a announcer with the Philadelphia Phillies for over two decades but he also did voiceovers for the NFL and other companies. Kalas collapsed in the booth in Washington D.C. about to call the Phillies/Washington Nationals game that afternoon in their new ballpark. Word has it that he suffered from heart disease.

Kalas didn't look as fit as he did in previous years and there was talk in recent years about how long he'd stay in the Phillies plans with some fans saying he lost a verbal step and the Phillies hesitating on his contract extensions.

While I'm not glad to see him go, I am glad we never had to see the day that Kalas was let go of in the fashion that the Detroit Tigers did Ernie Harwell (a fellow Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Famer). The Tigers brought his age up as an excuse and that's something I'm glad I never had to see.

Kalas brought his best and he could have been 120 years old and I'd want to have hear just that! He's in the sports reel of my life and it's fitting that he finally got to call a World Series championship clinching final pitch (at the time of the 1980 series, local broadcasters were prohibited from calling the game) in the season before he left the world.

I will always remember Harry saying: Swing and a miss, struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of Baseball!" Rest in peace Harry Kalas, you are up there with "Whitey" Ashburn lighting a cigar in heaven. Never will his trademark "Outta Here", Mickey Morendini and Michael Jack Schmidt sound so good! The Phillies broadcasts are in capable hands but something will be missing forever. This too shall pass..


Any comments, questions and/or suggestions give Clayton Ruley an email at clayton@geoclan.com.

 
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