“Of course I was wondering, ‘Am I being put out on the pasture? Am I going to get another shot?'” Martin says. “Even when I did come back, I didn’t know if I would have the chance to play again in the NHL.”

In the meantime, the team explored trade options for Martin. But he kept grinding, in the hopes this wasn’t it for him.

Being back after so many years away might have felt awkward at first, had he taken time to truly ponder its meaning. Instead, after accepting the position in late December, he had to quickly assemble a coaching staff and make up ground in recruiting. After signing day was over and he’d cobbled together the No. 14 class in the country, including signing coveted dual-threat QB Emory Jones, there wasn’t much time before spring practice began.

With film of practice on pause, Mullen lamented that he had to miss his daughter’s sixth birthday party the previous night. With spring game preparations later on, he was sure he’d miss her birthday dinner that night as well. There was just so much to do.

Spears: Cleveland versus Toronto. LeBron versus the East’s top-seeded Raptors. The return of Curry will have a lot of eyes on Warriors versus Pelicans, but it’s time for the Raptors to be more than just a regular-season wonder and they need to get past LeBron in the second round to do that. An early ousting would be devastating for Toronto.

Snellings: We already have it. The Pelicans, with the way they dominated their first-round series, are a compelling matchup against the defending champion Warriors, who hope to bring back the injured Curry soon. Of the remaining matchups, the most intriguing might be a battle with three of the unicorn-like young superstars, with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the Bucks against Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and the Sixers.

So when people wonder aloud how the incumbent starting quarterback, Feleipe Franks, will fit into his system, Mullen doesn’t get flustered. He’s not ready to name a starter this early, but he hasn’t written off Franks, who threw nine touchdowns and eight interceptions as a freshman last season. In fact, Mullen said he’s stayed away from watching any old film of the team, so chances are he doesn’t even know that Franks ran for only 20 yards.
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