Evan Rodrigues’ surprise Stanley Cup heroics, plus where the Lakers and Dan Hurley go from here

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While You Were Sleeping: Evan Rodrigues 3, Oilers 1

A beautiful thing can happen when titles are on the line: New stars emerging, whether they’re beginning magnificent runs or just briefly blipping into the limelight. In this Stanley Cup Final, that star is Evan Rodrigues: 

  • The 30-year-old Florida center, who had just 16 games of playoff experience entering this postseason, scored twice in the third period of last night’s 4-1 blowout win over Edmonton, which gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead in this series. The first was a rocket:


  • Rodrigues now has three goals in the first two games of this series. His scores last night took the game from a tie to a rout. A few weeks ago, the man had just four career postseason goals, and now he’s turning the Stanley Cup Final in Florida’s favor. Not bad. 

The Oilers have until Thursday to figure this out. Maybe this series won’t be very long after all.

Jilted: Dan Hurley’s shocking turn

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The godfather offer was there. Six years, $70 million, coaching LeBron James and the Lakers. And Dan Hurley said no. He joins names like Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo or even Billy Donovan (the first time around) who ultimately chose college over jumping to the NBA. Except this might be a little different than those three. 

Brendan Quinn knows Hurley’s psyche better than most, and laid out the entire situation beautifully in a column yesterday. Two things I want to highlight: 

  • This was not about job safety or comfort in the college game. In fact, those who know Hurley might be shocked he didn’t make the move. The man fueled by proving himself over and over again opted against a new challenge this time. And it was probably the right move for now.
  • Brendan slipped a note in there about Hurley possibly still hopping to the NBA some day. Maybe that’ll happen when another job comes up with a different set of circumstances (or location). Hurley is still just 51. Maybe he leaves UConn after winning a three-peat? What else is there for Hurley to accomplish in the college game? Donovan ultimately made the leap, just much later than his first serious flirtation.

And, uh, who coaches LeBron and the Lakers now? Is JJ Redick still interested? Zach Harper will have more in The Bounce later this morning to try and sort that out.

News to Know

It’s ACC vs. SEC in Omaha
NC State upended Georgia in last night’s final super regional game, which means the College World Series field for Omaha is set: four ACC teams against four SEC teams. Five of those teams are top-8 seeds, including No. 1 Tennessee, who needed three games to beat Evansville in the supers. The Vols should hope that was the last of their shakiness: no No.1 seed has won the national title since Miami did it in 1999. See the full field here.

More news

  • The Steelers gave Mike Tomlin a three-year contract extension. It wasn’t a surprise
  • Canadian forward Sarah Fillier went No. 1 to New York in last night’s PWHL Draft. Hailey Salvian analyzed every pick here.
  • USWNT star Christen Press is finally training again with Angel City FC after suffering an ACL tear in June 2022. She’s had four surgeries since. Angel City could use her.
  • An NIL suit I didn’t expect: 10 players from NC State’s 1983 title-winning men’s basketball team are suing the NCAA for using their likenesses without compensation.

Psst: We love MLB gossip

Anonymous polls, when done by the right people, are great. In our case, pro athletes give unfiltered opinions, and it helps us understand the state of a sport better — and maybe drive a conversation further. 

Yesterday, we published our latest 10-question poll of more than 100 anonymous MLB players. Three quick things: 

  1. Players also know how much of a unicorn Shohei Ohtani is. 

Forty-six percent of pollees picked Ohtani’s as MLB’s best player, with Ronald Acuña Jr. coming in second at 26.5 percent. My favorite quote: “Shohei Ruth or Babe Ohtani — no question.”

  1. The league is split on the Olympics. 

Baseball will be played at the 2028 Games, which will of course fall during the MLB season. Nearly 50 percent of responders say the league should adjust its schedule to allow stars to participate. One suggested getting rid of the All-Star Game that year. I think I’m pro-that. Baseball Dream Team, please. 

  1. Players think the old guys should can it. 

One of the best questions in the survey was about criticism from older generations of MLB players, at which most of today’s crew bristled. The gist: pitchers are better today (multiple players mentioned the uptick in 100-mph hurlers), the strike zone is smaller and teams play better defense. Best quote here, another about the Bambino: “Do you think Babe Ruth ever saw a slider?”

The full survey is worth a read today, complete with A’s hate, the league’s most overrated players and more.

Watch This Game

MLB: Yankees at Royals
8:10 p.m. ET on YES and Bally Sports KC
Back to the well again here. This is where I remind you Kansas City is still 11 games above .500 and remains one of baseball’s best stories this season. The New York demolition crew won last night though, and hold the second-best record in baseball. Good series. 

WNBA: Lynx at Aces
10 p.m. ET on NBA TV
Are we worried about the two-time defending champs? It’s early, but maybe so. They’ve slid to fifth in our most recent Power Rankings, and coach Becky Hammon is out here getting tossed from games. At least this perceived swoon is happening early.

Get tickets to games like these here.

Pulse Picks

It wasn’t that long ago when Alabama players “coincidentally” all driving Dodge Chargers was a meme in SEC circles. Now, as Christopher Kamrani and Brian Hamilton wrote yesterday, car dealerships are coming out of the NIL shadows to help your local college sports team land big athletes. The almost century-old history here was so fascinating, too. 

A small peek behind the proverbial curtain: Dane Brugler and Nick Baumgardner talked about how they prepare for an NFL Draft. It takes so much longer than you think. 

The NBA Finals resume tomorrow night. The Dallas Mavericks have no answers for the Boston Celtics yet

This was cool: Michael Salfino wrote about Micah Johnson, the former MLB player who’s now an accomplished artist and honoring Negro Leagues legends with a new Topps card set

I still can’t believe there’s a guy entering his ninth year of college football. Does that qualify for a 401k? Stewart Mandel and Max Olson have that and more in their annual All-“Wait, They’re Still Playing College Football?!” Team

Need a new bite-size podcast? The Athletic FC crew is profiling the 12 most exciting players at Copa America and Euros this summer. Catch up on Folarin Balogun or get introduced to Spanish wunderkind Lamine Yamal. I’ll be listening here

Most-clicked in the newsletter yesterday: Matthew Futterman’s excellent story of how Carlos Alcaraz won the French Open — and conquered his own body to do so

Most-read on the website yesterday: Everyone is still talking about Caitlin Clark not being on the Team USA roster.

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

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