From Comcast SportsNetHead coach Scott Skiles and the Milwaukee Bucks have decided to part ways after just over four seasons together, ending a working relationship that seemed to have been teetering on the brink for quite some time.The decision came Monday night, a person with knowledge of the move told The Associated Press, two days after the Bucks lost their fourth straight game to fall to 16-16 on the season. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the move has not been announced. USA Today first reported the parting.Skiles was 162-182 and in his fifth season with Milwaukee. He led the Bucks to one playoff appearance, a first-round loss to Atlanta in seven games during the 2009-10 season.At first glance, the timing of the move might seem curious. Even after their latest loss, the Bucks were still in seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. But the hard-nosed, defensive-minded coach sometimes had difficulty meshing with a roster built around volume shooters Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, and it appeared to finally reach the breaking point after a 95-80 loss to the Pacers in Indiana on Saturday night.This season the Bucks started out a surprising 6-2, only to lose seven of their next nine. They followed that with a four-game winning streak, the kind of wild swings that didn't sit well with a coach who values consistency -- both in play and preparation."The real challenge is we've had a couple of years in a row where ... we didn't buy into our defensive system," Skiles said before the season began. "If we do that, we'll be a good defensive team. If we don't, we won't. That's the real challenge, getting guys to buy in on that on the floor, give the effort, focus and concentrate as necessary to be a good defensive team."Despite the differences in style between the head coach and the stars on the team, the Bucks were just three games behind Indiana in the Central Division despite injuries to Beno Udrih and top defender Luc Mbah A Moute.Skiles helped coax a breakout season from Larry Sanders, who has emerged as a rebounding and shot-blocking monster over the last few weeks. The demanding coach pushed Sanders to be more consistent, and the lanky forwardcenter has responded. He grabbed 20 rebounds against Boston on Dec. 21 to start a string of double-digit rebound nights in five of his last eight games and leads the league with 3.07 blocks per game.Skiles' hard-driving style and focus on defense was always going to be tested by a roster revolving around Jennings and Ellis, two flashy scorers who prefer to get up and down the court and lure opposing teams into shootouts to help compensate for their lack of size on the defensive end.Skiles always thought the key to being competitive in the East was to buckle down and value getting stops over getting buckets. Jennings and Ellis have been giving plenty of effort, but the Bucks were in the middle of the pack in points allowed per game (15th) and field goal percentage defense (18th), below Skiles' lofty expectations.Two other coaches, the Lakers' Mike Brown and Brooklyn's Avery Johnson, are also out of work in this young season. Brown was fired after five games and Johnson late last month, about three weeks after being named Eastern Conference coach of the month.Skiles' exit in Milwaukee follows a similar path as his other head coaching stints. He lasted about two and a half seasons in Phoenix and was out 25 games into his fifth season with the Chicago Bulls in 2007-08, with his stern approach usually providing a big boost early in his tenure before wearing on the players later in his stay. Skiles was in the final year of his contract with the Bucks, who play Phoenix on Tuesday and Chicago on Wednesday.His departure could be the first in a series of big shake-ups for the Bucks. General manager John Hammond is in the final year of his deal, while Jennings and Ellis can both become restricted free agents after this season.Multiple reports said assistant Jim Boylan would fill in for Skiles on an interim basis.
BRIGHTON, Mass. – With the World Cup of Hockey and Team Canada crowned as champions, the final few Bruins players involved in the international hockey tournament will be filtering back into regular training camp.
It was a brilliant tourney for Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, especially while forming the World Cup’s best forward line with Sidney Crosby. Marchand was one of the leading scorers and had the clutch game-winner in the decisive game.
As a line they combined for a ridiculous 25 points in six games and it was Marchand who scored a couple of the biggest goals in the biggest games against Russia and Team Europe.
“They did it all of last season for us, so I’m not shocked. They played well throughout the entire time they played there, so I’m really happy for them,” said Ryan Spooner. “It’s been kind of a weird camp. We’ve been missing a lot of guys, and to get all of those guys back is huge. They’re the leaders of the team, so to get them back is good.
“Marchand around the room is a funny guy, so he’s definitely missed. We miss them all.”
Zdeno Chara was a force for the surprising rag-tag group of players on Team Europe and led them to the best-of-three final series against Team Canada. Now that it’s over, the B’s teammates are looking forward to all three joining fellow World Cup participants Tuukka Rask, David Pastrnak and David Backes at camp probably at some point next week.
“It does [feel like training camp], but it will be nice to get those guys back,” said Adam McQuaid. “They are big parts of this team. We’re looking forward to having those guys back, for sure.”
That also includes getting their coach, Claude Julien, back as well after missing his presence while he served behind the Canadian bench with Mike Babcock and Barry Trotz. He’ll be rejoining the Bruins over the next couple of days, and getting through preseason road games against Detroit and Philadelphia before making some tough decisions on cuts at main training camp.
That’s when things will officially start getting back to normal for a training camp that’s felt like something was a little missing over the first few weeks of getting ready for the season.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while taking a nap this afternoon so I can watch the 1:30 am replay of tonight’s Bruins/Red Wings game on the NHL Network.
*Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara scored the goals at the World Cup’s decisive game on Thursday night, and No. 63 got the clutch game-winner late in the third period for Team Canada. Then he watched as linemate Sidney Crosby won the MVP for the tournament in what could be perceived, from a Boston point of view, as a largely Canadian-based hockey media fawning over Sid the Kid once again. Look, he was the tournament’s leading scorer, but last night’s heroics probably should have tipped the scales toward the B’s agitator getting the World Cup hardware.
*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Halford has Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm seeking an eight year deal from his team. That could be another contract negotiation to watch closely if you’re a Bruins fan.
*Zach Werenski, one of the D-men the Bruins were trying to trade up to get two years ago in the first round of the draft, is looking like he might be NHL-ready for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
*Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov is holding out with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and just wants to get paid like the rest of his teammates.
*Marian Hossa says he still wants to play hockey when he’s 42 years old, or close to the age that countrymen Zdeno Chara is right now.
*Here are some preseason college hockey storylines with the world of NCAA hockey about to start up in force.
*A judge has ruled that the family of the late Derek Boogaard may pursue a lawsuit against the NHL over the death of their son.
*For something completely different: “Tex Ryan” takes his jokes to open mic night and I’m fairly this is Toucher and Rich skewering the Buffalo Bills head coach. And rightfully so.