I was just enjoying a nice Friday night, ripping up carpet in my basement, when my phone began blowing up because we had an emergency sports media situation.
You’ve probably seen it by now, but if you haven’t, here’s Jake Voracek ripping Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Mike Sielski, who asked a totally innocuous question after Friday night’s 5-2 win against the Penguins:
— Bobby B (@rjbecker26) January 16, 2021
“Does it matter what I say, Mike? You’re gonna write fucking shit every time so it doesn’t matter what you say. Yeah it feels different. I mean, we got four points out of these first two games. Uh, I wasn’t even gonna answer your question because you are such a weasel it’s not even funny. Next question.”
Wow, holy cow! Where did that come from?
We got in touch with Mike, who is a good dude and a reasonable dude, and asked him to explain what this was all about. He kindly obliged and said that he thinks the animosity stems from a column he wrote more than a year ago, and later tweaked.
Here’s Mike’s story, which is paraphrased:
“On Halloween of 2019 I went to Voorhees, where they practiced that day. I go to write a column. They had gotten off to a slow start that year and Alain Vigneault is talking and says he needs more from his veteran group of players. Voracek and James van Riemsdyk were laughing as he was talking.
I go home and I’m hosting a party at our house, and we’ve got 60 people coming over for trick and treating. I’m on deadline and trying to write this column about what happened at practice. Flyers public relations got in touch because they thought I was writing that Voracek and van Riemsdyk were laughing AT Alain Vigneault, so I apologized and said that I could understand why they saw it that way. I went online and we fixed the column at that point, to clarify that I didn’t know specifically what they were talking about, and I said I’d be willing to smooth things over with Jake, that I would speak to him at practice or over the phone. Again, we went in and fixed the column and that was it.”
Alright, so for some background, Mike’s column stems from the early-season storyline last year where Vigneault asked for more from Voracek and Claude Giroux after the team got off to a slow start. It was a big deal at the time, and made the rounds on pretty much every Philadelphia sports website. Voracek, at that point, had been temporarily dropped to the fourth line.
The story is still up at Inquirer.com, titled “Flyers coach Alain Vigneault sent a message to Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, and it was a long time coming.”
Wrote Mike, in part:
“Alain Vigneault has been an NHL head coach for 16 years, and the most welcome development of his brief stint with the Flyers has been his willingness to use that credibility to call out the team’s top two players in a way they’ve never been before. There was Jake Voracek, sitting at his locker at the Skate Zone after the Flyers practiced Thursday afternoon, untying his left skate, and Vigneault stood in the center of the room with his back to him and demanded that Voracek and Claude Giroux deliver a higher caliber of play and leadership. Back-to-back lopsided losses to the Islanders and Penguins had compelled the coach to send his stars a message, and one of them was on hand to hear it. Voracek sat there and laughed. Was it something the teammate seated to his right, James van Riemsdyk, had said? Was it something else?”
So there you go. Mike says he thinks Voracek’s decision to lash out on Friday night stems from this column dating back to October 31st, 2019. He says he apologized for the confusion, edited the column, and offered to smooth things over.
We appreciate Sielski going on the record with us. I’m sure Voracek will be asked to follow up on this, and then we’ll get both sides of the story and can cast judgment from there.
Maybe we can sit Mike and Jake down together for a Flyers version of the 2009 beer summit. I’ll play the role of President Barack Obama, and I’ll be drinking a Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter. We’ll do it at the White House Rose Garden.