Chase Utley will retire at end of the season

Chase Utley will retire at end of the season

Updated: 9:31 p.m.

"The Man" will be calling it a day … effective at the end of the 2018 season.

Chase Utley will retire at the end of the season, he announced in a press conference Friday night. He is ready to be a "full-time dad," he said.

Utley, 39, had one year left on his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has two sons — Benjamin, who is 6 years old, and Maxwell, 3 years old.

"The thing I'm having the most difficult time with is being a part-time dad," Utley said. "That's really the reason why I'm shutting it down because I'm ready to be a full-time dad."

Utley said he had not yet told his boys.

"They've asked me a few times, 'Dad, how much longer are you going to play? Why do you have to go to the field today?'" Utley said with a smile. "That conversation will come soon. I think it will be a good conversation."

Everyone knows why No. 26 became a legend in the Delaware Valley. The all-out hustle and blue-collar approach endeared him to fans. It also didn't hurt that he produced some of the organization's most iconic moments while playing an integral role in the club's golden era from 2007-11 — five straight NL East titles, two NL pennants, a World Series crown and a franchise-record 102-win season.

"Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, got a chance to play in the big leagues with them for a long time," Utley said. "Played in front of some amazing fans."

Utley was traded to the Dodgers in August 2015 as the Phillies were in full rebuild mode. With the Dodgers, his childhood team, he has left an immeasurable impact on the clubhouse and has played in the playoffs the past three seasons.

With the Phillies, though, is where he truly left his mark. Among the franchise's all-time leaders, Utley ranks first in hit by pitches (173), second in WAR (61.8), fifth in doubles (346), sixth in home runs (233), seventh in RBIs (916) and ninth in hits (1,623).

Not one for attention, Utley was happy to make this announcement now.

"I'll be at ease a little bit more," he said. "I can kind of go into my last chapter of my baseball career with enthusiasm and excitement, but most of all, a clear mind."

Utley's final trip to Philly is right around the corner as the Dodgers will be visiting the Phillies on July 23-25.

When he returned to Philly for the first time as a Dodger on Aug. 17, 2016, the standing ovation was surreal. He's received cheers every time he's been back since.

This time, Citizens Bank Park will be even more electric.

More on 'The Man'

• Phillies have World Series heroes Utley and Lidge on their minds

• Now is a fun time to look back at Utley's history of tormenting Mets

• Fans react to news of Chase Utley's retirement

• 26 times Chase Utley was The Man

• This is such a Chase Utley milestone

End to End: Where should Flyers play James van Riemsdyk?

End to End: Where should Flyers play James van Riemsdyk?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Where should the Flyers play James van Riemsdyk?

I don't really see this as a question of where they should play van Riemsdyk but rather how should they use him.

The easy fit would be to slot JVR in on the second line with Nolan Patrick and either Jakub Voracek or Wayne Simmonds, but things aren't easy.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall kept the door open for Claude Giroux to return to center in 2018-19 last weekend, so a lot of it depends on what shakes out in training camp. van Riemsdyk figures to be with either Patrick or Giroux.

Take into account how dynamic Giroux was with Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny last season, the JVR signing should be one to boost secondary scoring. Putting him on the second line does that.

van Riemsdyk isn't exactly the best defensive forward and in Toronto, Mike Babcock essentially used him as a third-line player at 5-on-5, sheltering him from facing top competition.

That will change with the Flyers considering he'll play in the top six and that means tougher competition. But Flyers coach Dave Hakstol should utilize van Riemsdyk in a similar way as Babock.

Last season, JVR started over 70 percent of shifts in the offensive zone. In fact, that's been the case in two of the previous three seasons. Since 2014-15, the zone starts have lopsided in the O-zone.

We'll see how van Riemsdyk fares against tougher competition, though he'll have better linemates too. The responsibility will fall on JVR, but Hakstol can help by getting him as many O-zone starts as possible.

In 2017-18, Giroux put up a career-best 102 points as the first-line left winger and Sean Couturier broke out for a career-best 76 points alongside him.

That should not be messed with, so van Riemsdyk's spot in the 2018-19 lineup is simple: second-line left winger, exactly where the Flyers need and want him.

The much bigger question that came to mind when news broke of van Riemsdyk's reunion was where does he fit in the Flyers' power-play picture? JVR is coming off personal highs in goals (11) and points (20) on the man advantage.

Hakstol now has a good problem.

"We feel like with this addition on our power play, we can put out two really good units," Hextall said last weekend. "It gives us another left shot, which we needed.

"Hak, we've talked long and hard about it. We know James is very good net front. He's got great hands, he's got good size.

"I don't know where that's going to shake out, but we feel pretty comfortable that our power play has taken a step here."

Simmonds has been the NHL's second-best power-play goal scorer with 86 markers since 2011-12, trailing only Alex Ovechkin and his 131. When an injured Simmonds missed seven games last season from Feb. 20 to March 4, Patrick shined in the net-front role on the first unit and kept it.

To start 2018-19, I would let a healthy Simmonds regain his spot and rediscover his forte while allowing van Riemsdyk and Patrick to bolster your second unit. If things sputter, then the Flyers have flexibility to tinker with their personnel.

However it unfolds, the overlying positive here is the Flyers will have a 30-goal scorer on their second power play.

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NHL free agency: Where the Flyers' UFAs have landed

Jordan Hall/NBC Sports Philadelphia

NHL free agency: Where the Flyers' UFAs have landed

Ron Hextall said at his end-of-the-season press conference in late April that the Flyers were not planning to bring back their unrestricted free agents, with the exception of Valtteri Filppula, which the general manager did not rule out.

So some now-former Flyers were on the move Sunday as NHL free agency opened at noon.

Here's the latest on where which players have landed.

Brandon Manning

The defenseman, who went undrafted and played parts of six seasons with the Flyers, signed a two-year deal with the Blackhawks. The contract has an annual average value of $2.25 million, according to TSN's Frank Seravalli.

"Brandon Manning was a good player for us," Hextall said Sunday. "He was an absolute warrior and a character guy, and I was actually very happy to see him sign that two-year deal in Chicago."

Over time, Manning became a much-maligned player among the fan base, especially when Dave Hakstol would elect to play him over Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg. Still, Manning never shied away from a fight, was classy off the ice and turned himself into an NHL player.

He thanked the fans, city and organization on Twitter earlier in the day.

Valtteri Filppula

Hextall on Sunday confirmed the Flyers were moving on from Filppula, who ended up signing with the Islanders, according to Arthur Staple of The Athletic.

Filppula was acquired in the Mark Streit deal at the 2017 trade deadline. The veteran center turned 34 in March and had 11 goals and 22 assists over 81 games during 2017-18.

Petr Mrazek

After the Flyers' season ended, it was clear Mrazek wasn't coming back to Philly. Hextall didn't qualify the goalie and he became an unrestricted free agent.

Now Mrazek is headed to the Hurricanes on a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

Mrazek will share the net with Scott Darling. Longtime 'Canes goalie Cam Ward moved on and signed with the Blackhawks.

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