*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. Despite having control issues A.J. Burnett played the role of stopper Sunday afternoon in ending the Pirates losing streak at four games. What a story Burnett has been through the first two months of the season at age 38. In eight starts Burnett holds a 1.38 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 43/18 K/BB over 52 innings.
2. Scary thought for Pirate fans is the Cubs looking like a group that’s arrived early. Neal Huntington has done a great job of making the Pirates a competitive team now and into the future with the farm system in place and soon-to-be MLB ready prospects to replace the Alvarez’s, and Walker’s the Pirates will part ways with the next couple years but the Pirates still cut corners financially when it comes to personnel decisions and with the financial might the Cubs have and the Cardinals planning to significantly raise their payroll by 2016, there’s no reason not to believe them, the Pirates may never take that next step (World Series caliber team) in the next couple years that some have predicted.
3. The Philadelphia Flyers didn’t hire Mike Babcock but they hired a Mike Babcock lookalike. Philadelphia went outside the box with the hiring of North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol who conveniently coached Ron Hextall’s son a few years ago.
Ron Hextall’s vision has always been big picture, go through a smart, patient rebuild and don’t cut corners. It’s likely the type of plan the Flyers need but the problem is Ed Snider is not patient. Hakstol is very highly regarded in hockey circles but he’s entering a brutal media market and a tough situation as it’s easy in May to embrace being patient.
Hextall today on Hakstol’s lack of NHL experience. “Every box was checked except for NHL experience and to me that was the least important,” Hextall said.
4. The dominoes are starting to fall on the NHL coaching front. Todd McLellan will be named Oilers head coach this week and it appears Mike Babcock ends up returning to Detroit or going to Buffalo for Rex Ryan type of money as rumors are Sabres owner Terry Pegula is offering Babcock the same exact deal (5 years, $27.5 million) he dished out to Ryan to be the Bills head coach. The highest paid coach in the NHL right now is Chicago’s Joel Quenneville who is making $2.75 million. The NHL is well below the NBA, NFL when it comes to salaries for head coaches.
5. Jim Rutherford has publicly said he won’t block members of the organization from better opportunities. We’ll find out soon enough as the New Jersey Devils will begin conducting interviews next week and there’s a strong sense around the league it’s John Hynes job to lose going into the interview process, if the Penguins grant Hynes permission, who has two years left on his deal. That said, with all much of a control freak Lou Lamoriello is, maybe Shero gets forced to hire one of Lamoirello’s cronies like Scott Stevens.