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All-Star Recap: John Scott steals the show

Nashville is well-known for being the center of the country-music scene, but for one weekend, it was the center of the NHL's universe, as it played host to the 61st All-Star Game.

The league decided to mix things up this year, and deviate from the successful Captain-vs.-Captain format that had been successful in recent All-Star Games. Instead, the ever-popular 3-on-3 overtime format was utilized, with 11 players each representing their respective divisions.

The Eastern Conference divisions each met for a brief 3-on-3 semifinal matchup, followed by a 3-on-3 Western Conference division matchup. Each winner proceeded to the championship round, with $1 million on the line. All three games were split into two 10-minute periods, with the league's best given plenty of room to showcase the talents that got them to the All-Star game.

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Cole Hamels discusses potential No. 1 pick, direction of Phillies

Cole Hamels isn't going to be suiting up for the Philadelphia Phillies to open the season for the first time since 2006, but that hasn't stopped the former World Series MVP from being very vocal about the direction of his long-time team recently. 

Hamels joined the WIP morning show last week, and discussed what the end of his tenure in Philadelphia was like and the positive memories he has of pitching in a sold-out Citizens Bank Park during the team's run of five straight division titles from 2007-2011. 

Yesterday, Hamels opened his two-day pitching camp in Garnet Valley, and gave a variety of interesting quotes to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Hamels, a first-round pick in 2002, spoke glowingly of Jason Groome, who visited the team last summer as a potential candidate for the number one overall pick in 2016 and assisted at his camp. 

"He did a workout with the Phillies," Hamels said. "I was there, throwing a bullpen, and he had just got done throwing. I was like, 'How old are you?'

"I was not that big," he said. "Gavin Floyd and I were skinny. We didn't throw that hard. We had to grow into our bodies to get some velocity. He's already got it. I told him, 'Man, you stay healthy and you are going to be golden.' "

Groome, who is a New Jersey native, is 6'5 and posted an 0.98 ERA in his junior season of high school. Prior to June's draft, Groome will have his senior season, which will be heavily scouted by the Phillies and other teams within the top five picks, where Groome seems like a relative lock to be selected. 

Hamels also took a step back and discussed the Phillies' rebuilding strategy as a whole. 

"You acquire the pitching because you can always trade that," Hamels said. "The best pitching, you keep it. Your hitters? Those are the second- and third-rounders that you need to get. Or you can easily pay them. Trust me. Every guy for the Rangers was like, 'Oh man, we love to hit [at Citizens Bank Park].' You can always get the hitters."

Hamels is correct in this assessment, and there are a few things that support his theory. The New York Mets had a loaded home-grown pitching staff last year, and didn't pick up their star offensive player, Yoenis Cespedes, until the trade deadline. They went on to play in the World Series. 

From a Phillies' perspective, Hamels was a first-round pick, and while Chase Utley was also taken in the first-round, Jimmy Rollins was a second-round pick and Ryan Howard was a fifth-round pick, so he is correct in saying that you can find star position players in later rounds. That's not to say that the Phillies shouldn't even consider taking a position player in the first-round pick, but Hamels' point is well taken. 

The other thing that the Phillies have working for them is that if they build an elite rotation through the draft, and supplement that with some position talent, like Hamels suggests they should, they will have a ton of money to work with when the 2018 free-agent class becomes available. That group is one that is being dubbed the best in the history of the sport, as it could feature Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, Andrew McCutchen and Manny Machado, from the position end of things. If the Phillies can spend the next few years developing a top-notch rotation, they could be in position to put themselves over the top by adding one of those offensive stars in 2018. 

 Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) is the Managing Editor of, focusing on news and features. 

Cubs sign former Phillies pitcher Jonathan Pettibone

In today's blast from the recent past, per the Chicago Cubs' transactions, they have signed pitcher Jonathan Pettibone to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. 

Pettibone was once hyped up in the Phillies' farm system as one of the collective that fans and media would call the "Baby Aces". I'm not quite sure where it came from but considering the careers of Jarred Cosart, Trevor May, Brody Colvin, and Julio Rodriguez along with Pettibone, the ones still playing baseball have barely lived up to major league status let alone Cy Young winners.

As far as rating the individual success of the crop, Pettibone had a really nice shot at being the one with the most at one point. He was called up in 2013 and made 18 starts for the Phillies, pitching to a 4.04 ERA over 100.1 innings. The next year seemed to hold promise for the young righty but bad results and a shoulder injury would derail him for 2014 and 2015. Pettibone was released after the 2015 season. 


John Scott explains his decision to play in the All-Star Game

The NHL tough guy was voted a captain and is honoring that selection for all the right reasons

It started off as a joke, a mockery of the NHL's All-Star Game selection process. The NHL recognized it and tried to prevent it from happening. They couldn't. 

When John Scott, longtime NHL tough guy and role player, took the ice for Saturday's skills competition as part of All-Star weekend in Nashville, he did so to a standing ovation.

By this point, his story is well-known and his reason for following through with an unlikely All-Star selection has now gone viral.

Scott wrote a piece for The Player's Tribune titled "A Guy Like Me," explaining his side of the story and why he ultimately would be in Nashville that upcoming weekend and he's doing it for all the right reasons.

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Flyers place Couturier on injured reserve

The hope of all NHL teams over the All-Star break is to get healthier for the stretch run of the season. The Flyers certainly needed the break, having played three straight games without Sean Couturier and dealing with health questions to both goalies Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason.

The break did not help one of the Flyers defensive catalysts, at least based on the move the Flyers made during the weekend. Couturier was placed on injured reserve. The move can date back to Jan. 20, the day before Couturier was scratched for the first time, but it is an alarming downgrade from Couturier's day-to-day status, which left reason to believe Couturier would return on Tuesday when the Flyers return from the break.

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Giroux draws praise from All-Star colleagues

The Flyers lone representative at Sunday's NHL All-Star Game is Claude Giroux. It's almost an afterthought that Giroux represents the Flyers at an All-Star Game.

As the Flyers captain, Giroux is the leader vocally and by example. He consistently is among the leaders in points on the team and has been seen at times this season drawing up the plays during timeouts.

But Giroux's skill set, quick and elusive hands, a strong and accurate shot, good skating ability, are what keep him on the radar of his All-Star colleagues.

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This Week in Flyers History: Week ending January 31

January 31, 1974: A memorable tilt with Buffalo

Flyers history

The Flyers were on home ice at the Spectrum to take on the Buffalo Sabres, led by "The French Connection." The nicknamed line of Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and Rene Robert, all French-Canadian, were the offensive leaders of the Sabres.

The Flyers would prevail in this game, 4-3, but not without a dogged fight from the Sabres and a few notable things occurred in this tilt.

Continue reading "This Week in Flyers History: Week ending January 31" »

McDonald scores twice, Phantoms claim 5th straight win


Photo: Steve Kuzma/Flyerdelphia

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were riding a four-game winning streak as they prepared for the final game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins before heading into the All-Star break. Looking to keep the momentum going, they wanted to end on a positive note.

They did just that with a 5-3 win on Saturday night over the Penguins.

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Giroux helps East to skills competition win

Claude Giroux and the East All-Star reigned supreme in the skills competition. The Flyers captain participated in three events in Saturday's event at the NHL All-Star Game: accuracy shooting, the skills relay and the shootout.

The East claimed a 29-12 win in the skills competition in Nashville.

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Chase Utley believes Jimmy Rollins will be signed before Spring Training

Jimmy Rollins married his wife Johari in 2010, and the couple welcomed a daughter in 2012. While Rollins' family is young, they aren't that young, and you would figure if anyone knows Rollins, it's his family. However, his family's knowledge of him probably pails in comparison to that of his long-time double-play partner Chase Utley, who Rollins has played with in parts of 13 big-league seasons. 

So naturally, Utley was asked about his long-time teammate's future today at Dodgerfest. 

Continue reading "Chase Utley believes Jimmy Rollins will be signed before Spring Training" »