Do You Want Doug Collins Back? Because the Sixers Reportedly Do Not

Do You Want Doug Collins Back? Because the Sixers Reportedly Do Not

The big news story of the day comes to us from the
Philadelphia Inquirer, where Bob Ford reports that the 76ers organization hopes
Doug Collins will step down at season’s end according to league sources. The
head coach has one year remaining on his contract, but another extension is not
in the works.

Ford outlines a number of possibilities, from Collins
walking away on his own terms, to his transitioning to a front office role so he
can collect the final $4.5 million left on the final year of his deal. However,
there is also some belief pride could interfere, and Collins would come back
even as a lame duck to fight the stigma that he’s not a “long-term coach.”

One thing it seems the Sixers are not willing to do is fire
Collins, with Ford citing that as being a bad move from a public-relations
standpoint.

The organization will have a huge
season-ticket renewal problem this offseason, and the last thing it needs is
engaging in a popularity contest with Collins. Selling tickets for next season
will be difficult enough.

"They really want to avoid a
backlash if the fans sided with Doug," the first NBA source said.
"They will be happy if Doug makes the call and it works out that he
leaves."

There is no question Collins is a likeable figure, both as a
former player in Philly, and because of the energy, passion, and forthright
demeanor he’s brought to the position. I doubt there are many people here
who wanted to see him flame out quickly.

But then if reports are true, it also seems probable Sixers
brass might be overestimating just how much loyalty the fan base feels toward
Collins at this point. The product on the court is the real issue first and
foremost, and while how much of the responsibility for this mess can truthfully
be laid at Doug’s feet is debatable – as a head coach anyway – there is some
question as to whether he brings the right attitude to the situation, much less has
the longevity to see this rebuilding through.

And actually there has been plenty of disagreement about the
way Collins goes about his job. Young players such as Arnett
Moultrie this season, or Evan Turner and Nik Vucevic in the past, have wound up
in Doug’s doghouse for largely unknown reasons while observers clamored for those
kids to get more minutes. There is even a question of to what degree Collins’ system works, as his team often settles for low percentage shots.

Plus, Collins isn’t exactly innocent in the construction of
this current fiasco, either. When Andrew Bynum was acquired there was no
general manager in place, which would seem to indicate the head coach had a lot of say in the
matter, as he likely did in several more unpopular front-office-type decisions. Tony
DiLeo has since taken over as GM, but who knows how much influence Doug still wields.

I’m not necessarily anti-Doug Collins myself, if for no
other reason than it has been painful to watch the 76ers go through coach after
coach through the years, sometimes a change being made a season’s time or less. It’s been a
while since any decision that swift has been handed down, but the organization could benefit from some stability on the bench.

Even if we’re just being realistic about the situation and
not taking sides, the Sixers as a franchise are in no-man’s land right now.
Nobody is sure where the team is going to go from here, or how long it’s going
to take to build something that resembles a contender. What we do know is it will
take long enough that Collins wouldn't be here to see it regardless.

Should the head coach be sent packing? Does he deserve better? Is
that really going to be what causes the dozen or so of you who have season
ticket plans not to renew? Because even as a Doug Collins supporter of sorts, I would
have a hard time mustering any outrage for a change.

>> 76ers hope Doug Collins steps away, sources say [Inq]

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:"";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).