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Decision day for Danny Hurley, and it didn’t play out the way Pitt had hoped. Hurley has decided to leave Rhode Island to take the head coaching job at Connecticut. U-Conn won out in a unique bidding war against RI and Pitt. Hurley gets a 6-year contract that’ll pay him $2.75 million in the first year. Pitt was reportedly offering 3 million per. So where does Pitt go from here? A few names are being mentioned: Mike Hopkins from Washington, Nevada’s Eric Musselman, and Nate Oats from the University of Buffalo. Oats has had a very impressive run with the Bulls. They were 27-and-9 record this past season. His 3-year record at Buffalo: 64-39 with NCAA Tournament bids 2 of the last 3 seasons. The Bulls upset Arizona in the NCAA Tourney last week. He just signed a 5-year extension, but it comes with a buyout of only $1 million. On Monday, Oats downplayed the interest in him, “obviously if something great came up out of the woodwork that I’m not expecting, you know, you have to talk to some people but I think with the way we structured the contract, we’re not going anywhere right now, and I kind of told them that, and it’s my plan to be here and coach these guys.”


Another free agent acquisition for the Steelers—their second since Sunday.  After signing Jon Bostic over the weekend, safety Morgan Burnett signs a three-year deal, and brings some much-needed experience to the secondary. Burnett was a third-round pick by Green Bay in 2010. He’s 29, and has played his entire career—8 seasons, with the Packers.


It looks like the Penguins are ready to get Matt Murray back. Today the Pens practiced in Cranberry. They also reassigned Tristian Jarry to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. That means Murray looks like he’s set to return against the Islanders in Brooklyn tomorrow night. If Murray starts, Casey DeSmith will be the backup for the time being. 10 regular season games remain. The Pens are two points behind the first-place Capitals. Mike Sullivan is keeping things in perspective, “I just think it’s important for us to try to put ourselves in the very best possible position to succeed, and that’s the way we look at it. We’re going to control what we can, gonna take each day as it comes, try to put our very best on the ice each and every game and see where it take us.”

News on the Pitt coach-search front. ESPN reports that Pitt met with former Indiana coach Tom Crean on Tuesday. Crean spent 9 seasons with the Hoosiers and went to the sweet 16 three times in that tenure. He also spent nine seasons with Marquette. This past season, Crean was an analyst for ESPN. Another name for the Pitt job being thrown through the rumor mill is Rhode Island’s Dan Hurley, who’s in town to lead his Rhode Island team against Oklahoma tomorrow afternoon. Hurley says he’s aware of the talk linking him to Pitt, “I’ve been on coaching rumors with me, it’s a great reflection for the university, our program, and these players. Their efforts have made me, I guess, attractive to other schools, so I credit the university and what they’ve been able to build in terms of the program and these great players.”


Marc-Andre Fleury reached a major milestone last night with his 400th win. Fleury made 38 saves in a win over the Flyers. He’s the 13th goalie to get 400. Even Fleury’s good friend and former teammate Sidney Crosby is impressed, “really happy for him that’s an amazing number, shows the consistency he’s had over his career, how may goalies come into the league when they’re 18 or 19 years old, it’s a lot of pressure…it just speaks to the consistency that he’s had.”

One of the best rivalries in sports plays out again tonight, and there’s no better matchup than rivalry night between the Penguins and the Flyers, and this rivalry means something big once again. The Penguins are in second place, just one point ahead of the Flyers. So tonight could be the difference between first and third place. When they’re playing against each other, these teams have a history of being violent, but does Sidney Crosby still think it’s going to be that way with so much more on the line? “I don’t want to say they aren’t (violent games anymore) because you never know what can happen, but it felt like there was always more fights and things like that. With the standings and how close things are, I’m sure it will be intense game here tonight.”


The final push for the playoffs is on. The Penguins missed an opportunity to pick up at least a point last night when their comeback against the Florida Panthers fell short.  The Pens will continue to lean on a long list of scorers, but head coach Mike Sullivan says the team needs to focus on defense, “It’s hard to score your way to success in this league. We have to become a team that has a conscience defensively away from the puck. We have to limit the quantity and the quality of the chances of our opponent each and every night if we’re gonna give ourselves a chance to win.”


Yesterday was the first day that NFL teams can designate the franchise and transition tags. So what about Le’Veon Bell? He was designated the franchise tag last year. He missed training camp, and earned $12.1 million for 2017. The Steelers will try again, but if they can’t, they could tag Bell again, and he’d be guaranteed at least $14.5 million.
Last week, I asked Steelers GM Kevin Colbert if he was optimistic Bell would be signed. His answer? “I believe I am,” but Colbert says they’ll never discount the use of the tag. Colbert also said, “we weren’t able to get the long-term deal done last year, but we never closed that door on that possibility for this season. Then again, as we talk about all of the different scenarios of cap, free agency, the draft, how is it all going to come together?” He added, “we won’t know until we continue to move through this. We never will discount the use of a tag.” Here’s what Art Rooney ii told me about the possibility of signing Bell, “we would like to get a long-term contract done with Le’Veon. and I think the fact that both sides want to get something done, that’s helpful. hard to say when it will happen. Sometimes these things, as we know, get dragged out but I think as long as both sides want to get something done, there’s a pretty good chance we’ll get it done.”


Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is speaking publicly for the first time about his devastating injury, which left him unable to walk. Shazier appeared on teammate Roosevelt Nix’s podcast, and said he’s still reaching for the Hall of Fame. Shazier says he feels he’s best linebacker ever, and says, “I just got to be back out there.” Shazier says he’s “trusting the process” and that he knows the end goal.


The NHL trade deadline’s a week from today, and there’s been a lot of concern, and speculation, over filling Nick Bonino’s spot at third-line center. But maybe that problem has been resolved. Riley Sheahan scored two more goals yesterday in the win over Columbus–his 7th and 8th of the season. Sheahan’s confidence is growing as he gives the Pens exactly what they need, “it helps I think when you can put up some points, so I’m feeling good. It’s nice to make some plays and to contribute some offense and take care of the little things too.”