PHILADELPHIA -- You know, for a sleepy preseason game, tonight's contest against the New York Rangers certainly had a ton of stuff going on. It certainly seemed like the height of the regular season on this September 26th, and well, I guess that's a good thing. And a bad thing.
The Flyers won the game by a final score of 5-3 on goals from Jaromir Jagr (two of 'em, even), Matt Read, Braydon Coburn and Wayne Simmonds, but that's not really the story of tonight's contest.
No, instead we're looking at the possible suspension of Tom Sestito and the comments made by Sean Avery and Wayne Simmonds both during and after the game. Oh, and an injury to Brayden Schenn, Read's continued impressive play and two goals from Jaromir freakin' Jagr. We'll get into it all below.
One thing at a time here, because there's a lot to cover. It's still training camp and I don't have my typing muscles properly conditioned yet. Damnit, guys.
Let's start with the Simmonds and Avery thing. If you watched the game on TV or have seen the video, you already know what Simmonds said to Avery, and if that wasn't enough, the Ranger confirmed it to the media after the game. We weren't in the Rangers locker room, but we do have the quotes.
Q: Did he call you what we think he called you?
Q: Is he going to say that there was anything as a precursor?
"I mean, I certainly hope not. Are you implying that it would be from something that I said?"
No, I was just asking.
"No, I mean from my end. I certainly wasn't."
Q: Are you familiar with what happened with him last week?
"Yeah, it is really disappointing. First of all, who would do that? And why would you do it? It just such an unnecessary thing. It's something that's not even an issue with us or our sport. So to be here now and having to answer your questions about what he did is disappointing for me."
Q: Do you feel like when someone does something like that they should be treated in a similar context (inaudible)?
"I mean Kobe got fined 100 grand. Everything is different now. You know, it's an issue. It is an issue that people are dealing with and trying to overcome. And I guess ten years ago, maybe it was not such an issue. But it is such an issue politically with people in the game and just in life in general."
Q: Is there concern that you were kind of vocal with the video you did this summer that players will come back against you?
"I mean, it has been said. It has been said for years. Whether I thought about it in that sense, I don't know."
Simmonds responded post-game as well. Here's video of that tense exchange with the media:
Avery's been at the forefront of the gay rights issue in hockey, and I've applauded him for those efforts. It's something we need to rid the game of and stuff like this has no place in our game. But to say that Simmonds' comments had anything to do with Avery's stance on homophobia in hockey and gay marriage is kind of ridiculous.
That's not to say we're using the "heat of the moment" excuse here, because that's not even close to the truth. There is no excuse for a comment like that. But the word Simmonds used is used so flippantly these days that it's not surprising he yelled it during the game. My guess is that it's probably just something he said. That's not to excuse it at all, and it was pretty low of Simmonds in my opinion to not apologize for what he said when talking to the media.
But to say that he used that word just because of Avery's politics? Doubtful.
And let's not believe that Avery is totally innocent here either. Because of the video evidence, he's able to take the moral high ground here, but I mean... he's Sean Avery. Not to say he used a slur or anything, but we all know that he was giving it back to Simmonds in this exchange.
In the end, though, it's definitely on Simmonds to apologize here. We know what he said. He knows what he said. And he was wrong.
Now onto the Tom Sestito thing.
He's going to be suspended, and we've already detailed the hit a little bit. Catch video over at that link as well. He was clearly shaken up about the hit after the game, which you can see pretty clearly from the video of his post-game media availability.
Whether or not he's upset because of the illegal hit or because he probably just lost his shot at a job in the NHL (at least for the start of the year) is unknown. But really, that's kind of irrelevant at this point.
The big question now is what happens in the aftermath of that hit. Zac Rinaldo thinks it boosts his chances of making the club, and we'd have to agree. We'd also have to say that the one thing he certainly doesn't lack is confidence. From his post-game:
"I'm surprised it's not me this time" on being suspended. That's just awesome. But yeah, seriously, Rinaldo says he's trying to rein in his game and well, he's the only one that's really left standing at this point when it comes to tough guys and suspensions. He's not a heavyweight and doesn't seem to really want to play that role, but who knows at this point.
If he can keep the crazy down, that'll be awesome. He says he can and he's been the only one able to do so in camp so far. I'm still stuck on the more suspensions than goals thing in the AHL last year, but hey... if he actually keep that up, he'll have a new fan in me. For now, I'm still on the fence about whether or not he's just a good salesman for himself or whether he's actually trying to tame his game a bit.
Oh, and here's Rinaldo's fight from tonight. Jesus, poor Dale Weise.
Some other loose ends:
-- Brayden Schenn left the game with an "upper body injury" in the third period. Paul Holmgren updated his condition after the game, saying he doesn't think it's that serious and that he'll be listed as questionable for the game against New Jersey on Thursday. He could be ready for the weekend. Good news.
-- Matt Read had another good night. The murmurs about him making the team continue to grow, and if everybody competing for a spot gets suspended, well...
-- Jaromir Jagr scored two goals tonight, both on the power play. He looked really composed on the PP and, well... that's a big part of why they signed him. It's still early but he looks like Jaromir freakin' Jagr, and that's a good thing.
-- Whether he was called a homophobic slur or not, Sean Avery is still a despicable hockey player. /obvious things
-- Ilya Bryzgalov was asked about the Flyers vs. Rangers rivalry. First impressions and such. "It seems like there's going to be lots of murders. Make sure we have enough ambulances, huh?" That guy is the man.
Comment of the Night
Embrace the Jagr.