Blogs > In The Room with Anthony SanFilippo

Daily Times beat writer Anthony J. SanFilippo takes you inside the locker rooms of the Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of the NHL.

Monday, May 31, 2010


I had the opportunity today to chat with former Blackhawk and Flyer Jeremy Roenick along with Delaware County native Chuck Gormley, who covers the Flyers for the Courier Post of New Jersey.

As is his style, Roenick was glib, spoke his mind and was entertaining. Next to Chris Pronger getting frisky at yesterday's press conference, It might be the best 10 minutes of dialogue in the Finals. Here it is in its entirety.


Who are you rooting for?

“I’m totally neutral. I don’t care who wins. I’m rooting more for the sport of hockey. But if you put a gun to my head, if you really put a gun to my head, I might be a little more with Philly.”

You’re trying to be politically correct aren’t you?

“I love both cities. The fans in both cities treat me like their own son so I can’t root against or for either one of them. I work for NBC so I have to be neutral. I win either way. I think it’s great for hockey. You have an Original Six team in Chicago, which is one of the most beloved teams in hockey, and Philly, which you can’t (match) how passionate they are about sports. It’s great for hockey, it’s great for its ratings and it’s great for both cities.”

Which city is better?

“If you’re talking fans, they’re a little more lenient here (in Chicago). In Philly they’ll run you out of town. If you go nightlife, Chicago is better. If you go food, Philly is better. Philly is one of the better food cities I’ve ever been in. Chicago has a little bit nicer people. Women? Chicago has prettier women.”

So it’s a push?

“ No, the reason I like Philly is because it’s blue collar, real people who are tough and stern that want hard workers and if they don’t get it, they’re going to let you know about it. I liked playing hockey that way. When I stepped on the ice and hit somebody and worked hard, they appreciated it and that’s why we got along so well. I’m not saying the people are bad, but they’re hard on you. They’re rougher. Here (in Chicago), they’re like, ‘Hey, how are you? Nice to see you. Can I do anything for you?’ The Midwestern mentality is a different kind of mentality. They’re two totally different cities in that aspect, but they have sports fans like no other. That’s why I like both cities.”

Did you ever envision this final?

“No. I couldn’t… I could never imagined Philly and Chicago being in the Finals like this. I gave a lot of blood and energy to try and help both teams win the Cup and I didn’t win it, but now one of them is going to do it. It gives me that feeling in the pit of my stomach – I missed out, but I’m glad both cities are getting the opportunity to do it. They both deserve it. Mr. Snider deserves it. (Blackhawks owner) Rocky (Wirtz) deserves it. Where do you go? I’m stuck.”

Do you know either coach well?

“Peter (Laviolette) was my Olympic roommate back in 1987 at the trials. I have a history with him, not so much as a coach, but back when he played.”

What was he like as a player?

“He was mean. He was mean. He was kind of like a (Chris) Prongerish type of player. He was very emotional. He was a good player, very sturdy, very steady. He was strong and mean. He was not a fun guy to play against and he coaches the same way. He was a great choice by (Flyers’ general manager Paul Holmgren) to bring in because he has that Philly mentality. He’ll kick you in the ass but he’ll also pat you on the back, which I think players’ need. He’s also a vocal guy and I think you need a vocal guy in the locker room. Joel Quenneville has done it everywhere he’s gone whether it’s Colorado, St. Louis or here. He’s just smart. He’s very smart. He knows how to treat his players. He knows who needs to be coddled and who needs to be worked. That’s a good transition that he knows how to make. Both coaches are identical on their bench coaching, who to play and who not to play, and how to motivate and motivating is very important and they both do it very well.”

Is there still a J.R. in this league?


Will there ever be?

“Not verbally. Maybe playing-wise, sure. Not when there’s a microphone in front of their mouth though. People now are boring as crap and I don’t want to listen to them. I still here the same old clichés. These guys know now that if you say something, it’s going to be in the paper and the coaches are going to highlight it and put it on the board. So, you go in there and ask these guys, ‘how you think it’s going to go tonight,’ and they say, ‘I don’t know.” Great. Thanks for talking. None of this, ‘We’re going to kick their ass tonight,’ or, ‘That guy (stinks),’ the old-fashioned stuff.”

What do you think about Chicago’s salary cap situation?

“I think they’re in trouble. You can’t have this much talent with a cap… There’s no way they can keep all this talent unless they do some serious negotiating to get guys to take less money. Maybe they should have (the players) meet some wise guys in the back alley to convince them to do something else.”

What do you think the difference is in the series?

“I think the third and fourth lines are going to make and break it. When you get guys like (Troy) Brouwer and (Dave) Bolland scoring big goals like they did in Game 1 and (Scott) Hartnell having a great Game 1… and I’m not saying Danny Briere is a secondary scorer, because he’s one of the top scorers, but when you look at scoring in Philly it’s (Mike) Richards and (Jeff) Carter, then Danny and Simon (Gagne). I think it’s the secondary scorers who re going to push it over the top. That’s pretty much how it is in all series in the playoffs, especially the finals. Goaltending was not a factor in Game 1. Both goaltenders were terrible. But, the forwards were bad in front of them. If you don’t support your goalie, you can’t expect him to win the game for you every time. The third and fourth lines on both these teams are going to be the deciding factors.”

When you played with Patrick Sharp, did you see this ability in him?

“Not to develop the way he has and to be the goal scorer he is. I knew he was a good shooter, but he’s using my stick. That’s why he’s such a good scorer. I didn’t leave too many goals in them, but he uses the identical stick that I had.”

He credits Ken Hitchcock with turning him into the player he is. Do you agree?

“Sure. Even though I didn’t appreciate him when I played for him, when you leave you see what a brain he is and how smart he is. He’s an educator of the game and a tremendous man. He wouldn’t do that emotionally, but from a numbers game, the tic-tac-toes of the sport, he’s the biggest reason for Patrick learning the game the right way.”

Surprised by the business turnaround of the Blackhawks?

“Yes and no. You have to credit Rocky with going against his family’s wishes and saying, ‘Look, these are the things we have to do if we want to compete and win a championship. If we want people to come back and support our team, this is what we have to do.’ He hired a guy in John McDonough that knows public relations and how to sell a team. Then he sold money to get top players, did his homework to get a good coach and put games back on T.V. It was a monumental shift in the last four years here in Chicago and look what’s happened, it’s paid off.”

Sunday, May 30, 2010


This is a generality, but collectively, sometimes those of us in the media are really, really dumb.

Oh, we have our moments of brilliance, but they are often overlooked when we're making complete chuckle-heads of ourselves.

Like today.

I sat in the Flyers post-practice press conference and listened to question after question after question about the sudden goaltending controversy surrounding the Flyers.


I should have known moments earlier when the cameras and digital recorders (and one cassette recorder... didn't know people still used those) were jammed in the face of Brian Boucher in the locker room.

He's the backup people!

Look, Michael Leighton wasn't great in Game 1, but to blame him for the loss is absurd. His team was awful defensively in front of him. When was the last time they allowed five even strength goals in a game? That's how you know they weren't playing the right way.

But, word was leaking out that the Flyers were considering a lineup switch. Everyone assumed it was in goal.

Cue the Family Feud buzzer please.

"SanFilippo family, your chance to steal."

Thanks Richard.

Let me set it for you straight. The change is coming on defense. Ryan Parent is done. Presumably for the playoffs, if not his Flyers' career. He likely will be playing elsewhere next season. Good riddance. He has two left hands - ergo he can't carry the puck without losing it. It was nice knowing you pal.

The question is who replaces him? Oskars Bartulis?

THe Flyers like him enough to have signed him to an extended contract and they used him earlier in the playoffs against New Jersey. But I'm thinking no.

Danny Syvret?

Again, a skilled puck mover, which would be an upgrade over Parent in one aspect, is nothing special in his own end and you can't risk having that kind of player on the ice against a skilled team like Chicago. I'll pass there too.

Then who? There's no other defenseman available.

True. Which is why it's going to be a forward.

I'm going with Daniel Carcillo. He deserves to be back in the lineup based on how he's played in the playoffs. He wants back in. He was pretty intense about it in the locker room today. Here's what he had to say to the Daily Times:

"I hate losing. At this time in my life, I am not a big fan of the Chicago Blackhawks. If I get a chance to get out there, I am sure everyone will see that.
Am I anxious? Of course... There is nothing I would rather do tomorrow than play.
"It’s tough because it is a team game. You battle with these guys all year to get to this point, and then you get to it and you are not with them, and you are not human and you don’t care and you don’t have a heart if you are not pissed off. You just have to keep as much of a positive attitude as you can. It’s a long series. Hopefully I can get in there and make a difference.
"I can’t remember a game this year that we didn’t have any penalties. Does that mean anything? I don’t know if you can really look into that. But we definitely have to be more aggressive and we have to hit more and we have to initiate tomorrow a lot more.
"I am not a coach. If I was, I’d be playing."

Later, at his press conference, Laviolette brought up Carcillo's name unsolicited when asked how tough lineup decisions are.

“Those decisions are always the tough ones when it comes to telling players they can’t be in the lineup or they’re not going to get the call that night,” Laviolette said. “Danny Carcillo is a perfect example. He went through it. There was no reason for him to come out of the lineup. He’s done everything we’ve asked."

Which means he's playing tomorrow. Book it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


There are few sports towns in America that compare with Chicago and Philadelphia.

The passion is second to none. Both have known great success and unrequited failure. Both are rich in history but sometimes cling to that history for a bit too long.

Chicago had Michael Jordan and the Bulls as their dynasty. Philadelphia has never really had a dynasty - except maybe the modern day Phillies who are trying to get back to the World Series for a third straight year.

In baseball, the Cubs haven't won the World Series in 102 years nor been there in 65 years. The White Sox have won just three championships in 109 years of existence. The Phillies, just two in 127 years.

In football, the Bears have won one Super Bowl, the Eagles none, yet both have rabid fan bases that expect a championship every year and with throaty bile express their disgust when it doesn't happen.

In basketball, the Bulls were a dynasty with Jordan, but never won before or since His Airness' era. As for the Sixers, they had a couple golden ages that begat two champions - the Wilt Chamberlain years in the 1960s (1967 championship) and the Julius Erving years in the 1970s and 80s (1983 championship) but aside from those great teams, only a Finals run in 2001 led by Allen Iverson has brought the Sixers back to the brink of immortality in their sport.

Which brings us to hockey. The Blackhawks are one of the Original Six teams in the NHL, yet have only three championships to show for it in their storied history, the last coming in 1961. They haven't even been to the finals since 1992.

As for the Flyers, they always seem to be a contender for the Cup, but success has averted them for 35 years. This is their sixth visit to the Finals since last winning the Cup in 1975, and they have lost each of the previous five to dynastic teams, the most recent in 1997 to the Detroit Red Wings.

So there should be plenty of intrigue when these two popular squads convene for the start of the 2010 Finals in Chicago Saturday.

There will be plenty of story lines.

-Michael Leighton going against the team that gave up on him.
-Patrick Sharp going against the team that bailed on him.
-Patrick Kane and James van Riemsdyk, the top two picks in the 2007 draft, squaring off.
-Marian Hossa in the finals for the third straight year with three different teams looking to finally hoist the silver chalice.
-Ian Laperriere finally playing in a Cup Finals after 16 seasons in the NHL.

The list goes on and on.

But, the one list that isn't that long is the number of times Philly and CHicago have squared off in playoffs. It's hard to believe that two fanatical sports towns have such a shallow history with one another, but it's true.

Below is a list of every Philly-Chicago playoff in the four major sports. Feel free to hold your breath. You'll probably make it to the end of the list.

1910-Philadelphia Athletics defeated the Chicago Cubs 4-1 in the World Series
1929-Philadelphia Athletics defeated the Chicago Cubs 4-1 in the World Series

1947-Chicago Cardinals defeated the Phildelphia Eagles 28-21 in the NFL Championship
1948-Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 in the NFL Championship
1979-Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago Bears 27-17 in the NFC Wild Card game
1988-Chicago Bears defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 20-12 in the NFC Division Playoff
2002-Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago Bears 33-19 in the NFC Division Playoff

1990-Chicago Bulls defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 4-1 in the Conference semifinals
1991-Chicago Bulls defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 4-1 in the Conference semifinals

1971-Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 in the Quarterfinals

That's it folks.

Well, there was one more... in 2005 the Philadelphia Phantoms defeated the Chicago Wolves (not affiliated with the Blackhawks) to win the AHL Calder Cup 4-0. The interesting thing is six players on these two teams rosters played in that series.

The Flyers' Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Riley Cote and the Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp and Ben Eager played for the Cup-winning Phantoms. Flyers' defenseman Braydon Coburn played for the Wolves.

So, AHL championship aside, the two cities haven't clashed over a title since 1948. Weird how that works, eh?

Nevertheless, expect a sensational series.

We'll have full blown coverage of the finals every day from today until it's over with yours truly, columnist Jack McCaffrey and sports editor and one-time hockey guru Rob Parent providing the latest info.

I'll be providing game stories, notebooks, blog entries and daily features both on line and in print, and will also be twittering everyday (@AnthonySan37) and shooting video to post to our Web site.

It's be a fun ride for the next two weeks, enjoy!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Were the Canadiens trying to sabotage the Flyers’ efforts before the game even began Saturday?

That’s a question that may never be answered, but will certainly be a topic of debate for some time to come.

Apparently a bucket of sand, or some other “sandy” substance was emptied onto the floor outside the door of the Flyers’ locker room and down toward the tunnel.

It caused several players’ skate blades to dull quickly and as such a handful had to go off the ice during their 3-0 win over the Canadiens in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals – some of them repeatedly – for maintenance.

Mike Richards left the ice three times with skate issues. Kimmo Timonen did so twice. Other players on the grainy train were Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux and Darroll Powe.

The Flyers did some maintenance of their own to try to keep the granules off the blades by putting a series of towels down, but it was only partially effective.
How the sand got there is an unknown. Obviously, no one from the Canadiens would take ownership and no one from the Flyers chose to be accusatory, as many of them feigned ignorance to the concept of their Bell Centre locker room being turned into beachfront property.

However, when given the opportunity to speak on the condition of anonymity, several members of the Flyers’ organization had a lot to say about what may or may not have taken place.

“I don’t know where it came from,” said one player. “But it was definitely getting in our skates. To have that many skate problems in one game is rare, no, more than rare, it’s unheard of.”

Another player said he doesn’t know who was responsible for the sand but added “you never know to what length some people will go. Teams are always looking for any edge they can get, so you never know if this was one of those situations.”

It wouldn’t be the first time something like this would happen in sports.
Hall-of-Fame basketball coach Red Auerbach allegedly used to have the hot water turned off in the visitor’s locker room at old Boston Garden when his Celtics were in the playoffs.

The New York Giants were accused for years of opening the doors at one end of Giants Stadium when opponents would attempt field goals to try and get some assistance from the wind tunnel created.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what happened here,” said one member of the Flyers’ organization who has been around hockey for a long time. “It wouldn’t surprise me at all.”

Richards, who seemed to have the most trouble with his skates, said the sand had no impact on him but rather stepping on sticks twice and jamming his blade against the post on another instance.

Still, one Flyers’ official wasn’t buying it.

“They tried to (mess) with us,” he said.

If so, it didn’t work.


So, if line rushes are correct, Jeff Carter is playing left wing today on a line with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne.

That's not a type-o. Carter, a right hand shot, is on the left and Gagne, a left-hand shot, is on the right.

As far as I can remember, neither have ever played those positions in their NHL careers.

It's a curious decision, and might just be a decoy before the game begins, but if Peter Laviolette is taking this approach, it is certainly a stunner.

It might be to protect Carter's right foot a little more, keeping it away from offensive traffic as opposed to toward it, but that's a reach in the playoffs if you ask me.

At least Laviolette didn't break up the other lines, which have produced so well for him in the playoffs, but they might be better suited with another alternative then the hobbled Carter on the left side.

Fans should hope that this is in fact a strategic, short term plan with another aspect of it in place for the rest of Game 4.

If not, it will certainly be a hot button topic in the post game press conferences.

Stay tuned....


In a surprising move that to me reeks a little of panic on the part of the Flyers, Jeff Carter will be joining Ian Laperriere in a return to the Flyers lineup for Game 4 today.

Carter returns to play one month and one day after surgery to repair a weight-bearing bone in his right foot.

Coming out of the lineup are Andreas Nodl (expected) and Dan Carcillo (unexpected).

Carter still appeared to be in pain while pushing hard on his right foot during the morning skate prior to Game 3 and seemed to be missing the burst at practice yesterday.

Still, the Flyers are bringing him back in a tough spot - a game where they need to have better speed and quickness at Bell Centre where the Canadiens seem to skate just a little harder.

It's even more perplexing of a move to replace Carcillo when Laviolette said Friday that he wanted his team initiating the physical play and instituting the edgy attitude necessary to win.

We'll see in about an hour how Laviolette will play it, but I think there are two possible line combos.

Either Carter will play wing with Richards and Gagne, leaving the other three line intact (with Lappy replacing Nodl on the fourth line), or he moves Giroux to the wing with Richards and Gagne and has Carter center Arron Asham and James van Riemsdyk.

Regardless of the lineup surprises, I still think the Flyers will win, but I don't like them winning comfortably as I did before this news. I think this makes for a much closer, tighter game.

Call it 4-3 Flyers... maybe in OT.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Last season, I got incredibly lucky.

Never a brilliant prognosticator when it comes to the NHL playoffs, I had an unmatched performance with my predictions.

I went 8-0 in the opening round, 3-1 in the second round, 1-1 in the third round and nailed the Cup Finals for an impressive record of 13-2.

I looked around, at the time, at all the major media outlets that cover the NHL and no one was even close. I felt like a genius.

I came back to earth this year though. A 5-3 first round followed by a 1-2 (so far) second round is more akin to what I am used to doing.

However, that doesn't mean that my surprisingly sensational run last year didn't have an impact on future generations of NHL playoff forecasters.

Take my eldest child for example. The kid, who is a columnist for his middle school newspaper (go figure) has been near-perfect in his projections so far this year.

That aside, there was one prediction which wasn't published anywhere but on my Blackberry.

The text came through at 10:27 pm on May 5th. It was about a half hour after the Flyers had lost Game 3 to the Bruins and were facing a 3-0 deficit.

Here's what the text said:

"Boston is now going to feel what it's like to have someone come back from 3-0 to beat them."

He was of course referring to the Red Sox 3-0 comeback to beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, one of only three instances in professional sports history where a team overcame a 3-0 hole to win the series.

That's three in 278 possibilities (in NHL, NBA and MLB), or 1.1 percent.

It was a bold prediction by the kid, and in my estimation was his lame attempt at convincing himself that after a perfect first round of predictions (yes, he picked Montreal to beat Washington) that he was looking to stay perfect (he has since lost his perfect record, courtesy of the Pittsburgh loss, but it is, to this point, his only blemish).

I sent him a text back that said: "You are a positive soul son, but the Flyers are toast."

Yet, here we are, nine days later, and Game 7 is upon us in a couple hours.

He has maintained his confidence, and it has grown to an almost unbearable braggadocio at this point, but I can't say I don't agree with him now.

It's funny, but I was talking to a colleague this morning and told him that even though I never would have expected the Flyers to come back from a 3-0 series deficit, heading into each of the last three games, I felt the Flyers would win each singular game.

I thought they'd save face in Game 4. I liked their attitude at the morning skate in Game 5, and even though I was more 50-50 on that one, just before game-time went with the Flyers.

Once they got it back to Wachovia Center, I felt they would certainly force a Game 7 and they did.

At no point though, did I ever think they would win this series.

I do now.

You can sense it in the way they talk, and this morning was no different. You could sense the panic in the Bruins, who decided to go into a bit of a bunker mentality today, canceling their morning skate and avoiding the media altogether.

The Flyers are on the brink of making history, something no one believed they would do.

Except for my kid.


Oh, and one more thing, proving Philly loyalty never dies, no matter where professional athletes from our area play, check out Philly native and Simon Gratz product Rasheed Wallace following the Celtics elimination of the Cleveland Cavaliers last night.

He didn't have anything to say about hockey, but his wardrobe choice drew a very clear line in the sand that he wasn't puling for the guys who he normally shares a locker room hallway with tonight.


Also, I spoke with Simon Gagne today about his foot. He said it still hurts, but that he didn't re-injure it in Game 6 and there was never any question about playing in Game 7.

He said players need to play through pain in the playoffs to get to their ultimate goal and that his foot, while it hurts, doesn't hurt any more today then it did in Game 4 when he returned.

He also threw out an Allen Iverson impression about not skating yesterday:

"I'm o.k.," he said. "I didn't practice yesterday because, well, it's just a practice."

He did go on to say that it would give him time to heal between games, but he did laugh when saying it and knew we would all flash back to the memorable Iverson "practice" press conference.

Meanwhile Blair Betts did skate this morning and is good to go for tonight.