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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Hornets have placed the teams future personnel decisions in the hands of Rich Cho after Rod Higgins has stepped down as the teams president of basketball operations on Friday. Higgins had been with the team for the last seven years. Hornets owner Michael Jordan thanked Higgins in a statement. "Rod has been a consummate professional throughout his time with the team," Jordan said. "Thanks to his hard work and commitment, we have an improved roster and we are poised for success in the future. Rod was of great help to me as I navigated my first four years as majority owner of this franchise. I wish him all the best." Cho will remain in his capacity as general manager and assume responsibility for the teams basketball operations, according to a press release issued by the team. Cho will report to Jordan and vice chairman Curtis Polk. Cho declined comment through team spokesman Mike Cristaldi. The move comes two weeks before the NBA draft and what is expected to be a busy off-season for the Hornets. The Hornets have the ninth, 24th and 45th overall picks and more than $13 million to spend under the salary cap. Jordan has already said the team hopes to make a "big difference" in upgrading the roster this off-season. Higgins declined comment on the matter via text message to The Associated Press. Coach Steve Clifford, entering his second season with the Hornets, said he had a great working relationship with Higgins. "He helped me a lot -- helped our staff a lot. He is a terrific basketball guy and a great person, and were going to miss him," Clifford said. "With that being said, you know change is a big part of this league. We need to quickly focus and move forward and continue to build the right culture, roster, so we can be a good team year in and year out." When Jordan took over as part owner in Charlotte in 2006, Higgins was one of his first hires the following year. Hes long been one of Jordans most trusted friends. Jordan was a rookie in the 1984 when he joined the Chicago Bulls and became teammates with Higgins, a veteran forward at the time. After a 13-year NBA career, Higgins went on to work with Jordan as an assistant general manager with the Washington Wizards. Higgins later left the Wizards to become general manager of the Golden State Warriors before joining Jordan again in Charlotte. Cho was hired by Jordan in 2011 as Charlottes new general manager and Higgins title became president of basketball operations. From that time, the two shared player personnel duties and regularly appeared together and press conference to discuss personnel moves with the media. Clifford said hes confident Cho will do a great job moving forward. "Rich is very organized, on top of things," Clifford said. "I know well be prepared, we will be prepared for the draft, for free agency and you know just like we have in the past. I dont see that part being an adjustment at all. Weve been working together for a year." Lonnie Chisenhall Jersey . The teams were scoreless for most of the first two periods before Canada scored three times in a span of less than four minutes. Sarah Potomak opened the scoring on the power play. Adam Frazier Pirates Jersey . -- Cam Newton pranced into the end zone, placed his hands over his chest and did his familiar Superman pose. http://www.pittsburghpiratesprostore.us/Felipe-Vazquez-pirates-jersey/ . The unrestricted free agent agreed to terms with the club on Thursday on a one-year, two-way deal worth $700,000. Starling Marte Pirates Jersey . The Redskins announced Monday that the quarterback who led the team to the Super Bowl championship in the 1987 season will serve as a personnel executive. Melky Cabrera Pirates Jersey . -- Golden State Warriors reserve centre Ognjen Kuzmic is expected to miss at least six weeks after undergoing surgery on his fractured right hand.If there is one question I get more than any other this season, its what to make of this years Montreal Canadiens. At 28-13-3 (59 points), Montreal has a fairly considerable lead over the playoff hopefuls currently sitting outside of the top-eight. Because of this, attention has rightly turned from whether or not the team will make the postseason, to whether or not the team can make a deep playoff push. Montreal, by virtue of their impressive point totals and last years deep post-season run, has emerged as one of the favorites to represent the Eastern Conference by some observers. They make up part of a five-team group – including Tampa Bay, Detroit, New York Islanders, and Pittsburgh – that look like theyll spend the next month or two securing playoff berths. Whats interesting about this group is that at least four of them would range from very good to elite in terms of controlling play at 5-on-5 – something we have come to expect from basically every quality playoff contender. Recall the puck possession graph put together at Habs Eyes on the Prize from 2013, illustrating how the vast majority of great teams routinely out-shoot the opposition at 5-on-5. Control of play at even-strength isnt the only way to measure a team, but its certainly the first thing you should be looking at in determining the quality and legitimacy of a team as they head into the playoff foray. This brings us back to the group of five above. Are there any teams that feel more like pretenders than contenders here? We can quickly graph out each teams Scoring Chance% and Corsi% for this season. Remember, 50% is break-even for both metrics – the measure of a truly average team in terms of controlling play. Based on the standings alone, we should expect each of these teams to sit comfortably above that 50% mark. Is that true? Its hard not to look at this graph and come off as anything other than underwhelmed with the Canadiens – at least relative to some of the other great teams in the East. Teams have out-chanced and outshot the Habs all season long. On the other hand, Detroit, New York, and Tampa Bay have all been crushing their opposition in terms of territorial control, and Pittsburgh isnt too far behind on that front. From a raw skating perspective, it shouldnt be in dispute that Montreals a vastly inferior hockey team here. Their underlying numbers are actually more comparable to teams like Arizona and Philadelphia, neither of whom can expect to sniff the postseason in 2014-2015. Territorial control is hugely important, but it isnt everything. Goaltending is vital to succeed in ttodays NHL – the Minnesota Wild and Edmonton Oilers are great examples of what can happen to teams who have improved on a puck-possession front, but dont get the requisite number of saves, and the Montreal Canadiens are a great example of what happens when your goaltender stops virtually everything.dddddddddddd That, really, is the big answer as to how and why Montreal is able to get away with poorer performance than we would expect from most playoff-calibre clubs. Look at a graph of each starting goaltender for our group of five. Horizontally, you will find the goaltenders raw save percentage at 5-on-5. Vertically, you will find the goaltenders save percentage at 5-on-5, adjusted for shot quality by shot distance against (courtesy War on Ice). The size of the bubble will indicate goaltender workload, or how many shots he has seen over the course of this season. If you were looking to make a compelling argument as to why Carey Price should be tops in the Vezina Trophy conversation this year, this graph should be Exhibit A. Carey Price is being compared to four quality goaltenders, all of whom have played reasonably well this season. And yet, theres really no comparison – Price has stopped shots at a comfortably better rate no matter what way you look at it, and thats while carrying a pretty heavy workload burden. So, at least in the goal suppression department, Montreal has one of the leagues most lethal weapons. Montreals inferiority at 5-on-5 is counteracted, at least in part, by the fact that Carey Price is there to clean up most of the teams mistakes. Its an unbelievable asset the team has, and its one of the big reasons why theyre returning to the playoffs again this season. But, if youre looking at this team and trying to bridge the connection between can reach the postseason to can legitimately contend for the Stanley Cup, you need to resolve the previously-mentioned problems. A goaltender can patch up a lot of mistakes, but eventually, you run into a team with comparably good goaltending and twice the skating ability. Like, say, last years New York Rangers. Its in Montreals best interest, assuming this is a year that they want to make another Stanley Cup push, to look for some complementary help in the skating department. The Pacioretty group and Subban pairing have been sensational, but production really tapers off as you whittle down the lineup, and its bringing the overall play of the team down substantially. Consequently, I anticipate Marc Bergevin will be quite active in acquiring some depth talent over the next few weeks. ' ' '
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