Monthly Archives: January 2011

Philadelphia Remains Home For Holmgren

For 32 seasons Paul Holmgren has been essential to the Philadelphia Flyers. On Tuesday the organization made it at least three more seasons.

The general manager’s contract extension comes just before the NHL All-Star break with the Flyers atop the Eastern Conference.

“I’m particularly proud of the job Paul Holmgren has done with our hockey club and excited to offer him this three-year extension,” said Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider. “He continuously finds the right opportunities to improve our team and get us closer to our ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”

“Today is a great day for the Flyers. It’s a great day for not only our fans, but our players and our coaches, extending Paul [Holmgren],” Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko added. “We felt based on many of Paul’s recent successes, including last season’s run through the Final and the tenacity of our team this season, that this was the right time to offer him a contract extension. This sends a message to our fans, players and coaches that we are committed to winning and our organization will be stable for years to come.”

Holmgren, 55, was assistant general manger for seven season before taking over the GM position November 11, 2006 after the resignation of Flyer legend Bobby Clarke. Since he took over the position, Holmgren has continued to root himself as a Flyers icon and as a geneneral manager who truely understands his team and the city that embraces them.

“Philadelphia is such a great sports town. I’m really honored and proud to be a part of what is going on here,” Holmgren said before Tuesdays game against Washington. “I think our fans are ravenous, and our fans are passionate. I think that all of the sports teams in this town are all pushing each other and pushing the envelope trying to win the championship in their respective sports. I look forward to trying to accomplish that goal over the next few years here with the Flyers.”

Holmgren nearly single-handedly turn around a team that was last place in the league when he took charge to within two wins of last seasons’ Stanley Cup Championship.

He has played a role in the building of the entire current Flyers staff and roster. After three straight playoff seasons it only seems right that Philadelphia would allow Holmgren to continue his pursuit to capture the Flyers first Stanley Cup since 1975, ironically the same year he began his Flyers career via the NHL Amateur Draft.

“I am truly excited about this opportunity,” said Holmgren. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with Mr. Snider and with Peter, along with our coaching staff and of course our players in pursuit of the ultimate goal here with the Flyers, and that is to win the Stanley Cup.”

With the organizations success with Holmgren at the helm, his Cup aspirations seem pretty promising in Philadelphia. “I think part of being a Flyer involves bringing your lunch pail to work. I don’t think that’s ever going away. That is part of our culture and tradition here.”

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Rich Rodriguez Blazed the Way For Eagles Fullback

The future looks pretty clear for Eagles fullback Owen Schmitt as the Green Bay Packers roll into the cheese steak capitol of the world for Sundays playoff game.

As for Rich Rodriguez, Schmitt’s former coach at West Virginia University things are a little hazy.

After three seasons at Michigan, and a 38-point blowout loss in the Gator Bowl to Mississippi State on New Years Day, the university decided it was time to part ways with Rodriguez this week.

“He really wanted to change things,” Schmitt said after the news of the firing broke, “it takes time to do that.”

For Rodriguez time was his biggest enemy as a Wolverine going 15-22 and a miserable 0-6 against Big 10 rivals Michigan State and Ohio State.

Summed up- Michigan nation wanted Rodriguez’s head.

Oddly enough it’s not the first time Rodriguez has had a Godfather type departure from a university.

In 2007 Rodriguez led WVU to a #1 nation ranking behind three NFL backfield bound players in Schmitt, Steve Slanton and Pat White before losing to the University of Pitt in the final game of the season.

Apparently that seemed to be the perfect time for Rodriguez to announce he was leaving the Mountaineers to succeed Lloyd Carr at Michigan.

A punch in the gut, even to a bunch of Mountaineers.

“It bothered me, he could have at least coached the bowl game,” said Schmitt who was in his senior season when Rodriguez left the hills of West Virginia. “It would have been nice to go out with him.”

The Mountaineers moved on, defeating the University of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl with interim head coach Bill Stewart at the helm.

“That’s how football works,” said Schmitt. “Everyone had their own opinions but there were some issues people didn’t know about.”

Rodriguez had just finished up contract renegotiation’s with the Mountaineers making his departure national news because of a barrage of lawsuits and death threats that surrounded his unpopular decision.

“It was different for me,” Schmitt recalls who ended his Mountaineer career with a bowl win and a ticket to play with the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL. “He hadn’t made any promises to me like the guys coming in.”

Rodriguez didn’t have much time to make many promises to Michigan players as recruits began to transfer left and right, including draft bound star quarterback Ryan Mallett who headed south to Arkansas shortly after the announcement.

Perhaps it was Rodriguez’s non-pro style offense or his lack of loyalty, either way it seems players like Mallett made the right call.

Before the 2008 NFL draft Schmitt made a trip to Michigan to see his former coach. “It was like nothing changed. It was almost my whole coaching staff except it was Michigan.”

Despite his untimely departure Schmitt holds no grudges against the coach who gave him a walk-on starting spot in 2005. “He’s coach Rodriguez, he’s got a unique style of coaching. He’s just a blue collar guy and that’s how he coaches.”

Through it all Schmitt still stays in contact with his former coach, speaking with Rodriguez out in Seattle during the preseason shortly before the Eagles snagged his brash hard knock style of play.

“He has respect for me and I have respect for him too. He gave me the chance to play and that’s all I wanted.”

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