Monday, December 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Jones' Two Cents: The coach of the moment and eight more hot topics

1 Who is the best coach in Tampa Bay at this very moment? It would have to be USF women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez. Smart for the school to sign him through 2023. But eventually the Bulls need to do more than win 20 games and maybe get to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

2 Disgusting to see pest Brad Marchand score the winning goal in the Bruins' first playoff game. He shouldn't have even been playing that game after spearing the Lightning's Jake Dotchin in the groin during a game the last week of the regular season, just the latest in a series of dirty plays by a player who is too talented to play that way. The NHL suspended Marchand for two meaningless regular-season games. He will never get the message as long as the league treats him like a mischievous kid instead of the cheap-shot artist and dishonest player that he is. He deserved to sit out at least a playoff game or two.

3 Despite a second-half wobble, the Cavaliers still feel like the team to beat the Eastern Conference. But is this LeBron James' last stand? He'll be only 33 next season, but he already has played 14 long seasons. He has been relatively injury-free. You would think Father Time and the rest of the NBA, especially the East, will catch up to him someday.

4 It's not going to get the death penalty, as the University of Maryland president suggested, but Roy Williams' North Carolina basketball program is going to get hit hard — and it should — for the academic fraud scandal that dates back several years. Stripping national titles and scholarship reductions will be on the table when the hammer comes down.

5 Those from Pittsburgh will tell you there might not be anyone in that city's history respected more than Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, who passed away Thursday at the age of 84. Pittsburghers appreciated his humility, his devotion to family and God (he attended Mass every day) and his leadership for social justice. It also goes to show you that in the cold, calculating, competitive business of the NFL, no one ever had a bad thing to say about Dan Rooney.

6 Rays fans are frustrated with the play of the team's shortstops, especially Tim Beckham. But it's hard to blame the team for what has turned into an obvious hole on the field and in the lineup. It's not like all-star shortstops are just hanging around every street corner, and the Rays' plan all along has been to have Matt Duffy (above) be their shortstop. No one, including the Rays, can be blamed for Duffy's setback as he recovers from heel surgery.

7 It would be nice if the Lightning could bring back all its forwards next season, but crunching the numbers, it just feels like it's going to be darn near impossible for Tampa Bay to acquire the top-notch defenseman it desperately needs and keep Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Jonathan Drouin (above), who can be restricted free agents this summer.

8 Former Lightning forward Gerard Gallant was hired to be the coach of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. Good guy. Good coach. Just surprising that Vegas wouldn't go with a fresher approach instead of a coach who has twice been fired.

9 Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, the guy who punched out a woman in 2014, visited the Bucs recently. Would the Bucs actually take him in next week's draft? If they did, it would certainly suggest that those who run the Bucs care about football. And nothing else.

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones has something to say about events of the past week.

     
           
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