This old friend would be a real valentine

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This old friend would be a real valentine

Don't look now, but there could be another managerial candidate on the market very soon.

And one who's very familiar with Boston, to boot.

With the dismissals of Tal Smith, the director of baseball operations, and Ed Wade, the general manager, by new owner Jim Crane in Houston, you can't help but wonder if Brad Mills is next. Mills, the Red Sox bench coach under Terry Francona from 2004-09, has managed the Astros since 2010, and usually when the housecleaning starts it doesn't spare anyone . . . especially the guy in the dugout.

And especially when the guy in the dugout has a record of 132-192 in his two seasons. But it's beyond dispute that the talent cupboard in Houston is bare, and that no one -- Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Casey Stengel, John McGraw, you name 'em -- could have succeeded with the collection of palookas the Astros have had in uniform. As bad as the team has performed on the field, Mills has acquitted himself well. From Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle:

Hes an excellent communicator and holds players accountable. Forget everything else you think you know about managing a Major League Baseball team. If a manager doesnt do those two things, he has no chance of succeeding, and then all the other stuff we use to evaluate them doesnt matter . . . Mills has been able to walk that hard-to-define line to get his players to like and respect him while knowing they cant take advantage of him. Theres a decency about Brad that plays well over the long haul. Hes consistent with what he expects of players. Hes also got a tough side. He demands his guys play the game a certain way. He will not tolerate disrespecting either him or the game.Sounds like a nice fit for these chicken-and-beer Red Sox, doesn't it? Especially if -- like me -- you're not over the moon about either Bobby Valentine or Gene Lamont.The chances of Mills landing here are slim and none. He doesn't have a track record of big-league success -- say what you will about Valentine and Lamont, but they both do -- and he'd probably be (very) reluctant to take the seat of his best friend, Francona, after the somewhat acrimonious parting Tito had here. Plus, he hasn't been fired yet. A technicality, perhaps, but it's got to happen before he can go anywhere else.Still, as a card-carrying member of the Bobby V.Gene Skeptics Club, I can dream, can't I?

Source: ‘Fairly certain’ Bruins will part ways with Connolly

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Source: ‘Fairly certain’ Bruins will part ways with Connolly

Things didn’t look good for right winger Brett Connolly returning to the Bruins after they opted not to tender him a qualifying offer a couple of days ago. Now it appears the former No. 6 overall pick will be headed toward unrestricted free agency. 

A league source told CSNNE.com on Friday morning that “it was fairly certain” Connolly wouldn’t be re-signing with Boston leading up to July 1 and that the right wing would be getting a fresh start someplace else next season. 

The B’s had maintained some level of public interest in keeping Connolly, 24, after relinquishing his RFA rights, but there hasn’t been much in the way of substantive communication between the two sides over the last few days.

Connolly scored nine goals and 25 points with a minus-1 in 71 games for the Black and Gold last season in a disappointing offensive season playing on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. 

He went long stretches without scoring goals or posting points last season and never played like the 6-foot-2, 193-pound power forward-type he was projected to be coming out of junior hockey. 

It was a step back from a decent season as a Tampa Bay Lightning third liner in 2014-15, and a clear bummer after they’d shipped a pair of second round picks to the Bolts in exchange for the former lottery pick.

With Connolly now headed for free agency with zero assets coming back to the Bruins in exchange for him, chalk this up as another total loss for the Bruins at a trade deadline where they’ve really damaged their long term organizational prospects over the past couple of years. 

 

Bruins sign David Backes after losing Eriksson to Vancouver

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Bruins sign David Backes after losing Eriksson to Vancouver

The Bruins have made some signings to varying degrees of significance on the July 1 opening of NHL free agency

The Bruins signed rugged, productive center David Backes to a five-year contract worth $6 million that will take the 32-year-old up until he’s 38. The former St. Louis Blues captain is tough, intense and physical along with being a guy that can chip in 20 plus goals on offense, and he will bring some of that fire to the Black and Gold starting next season. But the 6-foot-3, 221-pound forward has also already played 700 plus games in the NHL, heavy miles logged given his physical style of play. It will be interesting to see what kind of player Backes is when he approaches the 36-38 year old range a few years down the road.

The Backes signing came soon after word came that the B's lost Loui Eriksson to the Vancouver Canucks to a deal believed to be worth $36 million over six years. 

“The flexibility piece is there. Now, we just need to make it happen, be it through trade or free agency, we’ll continue to improve,” said B’s general manager Don Sweeney, while announcing the Torey Krug contract extension on Thursday night. “Players on this roster or whatever we have to do — there are certain players that I’ve mentioned before that are a big part of our group in winning and we’re very, very unlikely to move.

“But discussions will come down with different general managers — they’re going to want, they’re going to have the asks, and I do, too, so you have to try and make it work and you realize that good players are exchanged and it’s not a fun process, but in order to improve your team, you’re going to have to give something up.

In addition to Backes, who scored 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games last season, the Bruins also inked backup goaltender Anton Khudobin to a short-term deal and re-signed John-Michael Liles to a one-year, $2 million contract after arriving at the trade deadline last spring.