Penguin Notes: What’s going on in Pittsburgh?

So the Los Angeles Kings’ John Stevens accepts a promotion from assistant coach to associate coach. He was thought to be a serious candidate for the Pens’ head coaching job. Stevens served as the Philadelphia Flyers’ coach and knows Pittsburgh pretty well. It’s telling that he accepted the promotion with the Kings over a possible spot with the Pens.

Detroit Red Wings assistant, Bill Peters, took the job of Carolina Hurricanes head coach Thursday. He, too, was thought to be a candidate for the Pens’ job.

Isn’t Pittsburgh supposed to be a prime destination in the NHL? I think it would be fair to say that the organization’s stock has taken a hit.

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I’m not sure I’ve recovered from the odd media conference announcing GM Ray Shero’s dismissal. President and Penguins CEO David Morehouse was so uncomfortable it made me uncomfortable watching. Click here for the 15-minute video. Morehouse speaks for a couple minutes and opens the conference up for questions. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi begins to ask a question but before he can talk, Morehouse interrupts him to wish him a happy birthday and rambles on about Twitter. Rossi says thanks and quickly moves on with his questioning.

Morehouse was chugging bottled water like he had just run a marathon.

The conference didn’t calm any fan base nerves and opened up a ton of questions. For whatever reason, coach Dan Bylsma wasn’t fired for three weeks after the organization named 65-year-old Jim Rutherford as the new general manager.

Rutherford appears to be a place holder or caretaker with Pittsburgh. It’s almost like the team is pushing back important decisions for two or three years with him at the helm. I would’ve loved to have heard someone ask him a specific Fenwick analytics question at his media conference. I’m not convinced he understands anything more than a very rudimentary perspective on hockey analytics, based upon his skirting answers.

Carolina kicked him to the curb for Ron Francis, which isn’t necessarily a scar, but the fact the ‘Canes haven’t even made the playoffs in five years tells you something. The biggest fear is that Rutherford goes with players and coaches he’s comfortable with in Carolina. Already, Peter Karmanos’ son, Jason, has been hired by Rutherford as a vice president of hockey operations – and this after his own dad had fired him. You can’t make this stuff up.

Rutherford on Bylsma:

“He’s a good man and a good coach. I really don’t know him very well and I only talked to him just briefly this morning.”

I suppose this is the kind of talk Penguins fans better get used to hearing.

Nevertheless, sometimes the best GM/coaching duos happen by accident and aren’t the first, second or third choices – as in the Penguins’ summer path.

So far, about the only positive to come out of the past couple weeks is that nobody’s mentioned Pierre McGuire’s name as a possible general manager.

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What I would’ve done.

I would have hired Jason Botterill as the general manager. I don’t get that he’s not quite ready. The Boston Red Sox have won three World Series Championships since hiring a 28-year-old general manager, Theo Epstein. Different sport, but if Botterill is your guy, he’s your guy today and tomorrow. Take the kid gloves off and get to work. If Botterill’s the best guy — and there’s reason to believe he is — then give him the reigns right now.

I think the Penguins are taking a dangerous step, pushing out their eventual management team by a couple years. Evgeni Malkin will be 30 years old two years from November. Sidney Crosby’s health is always an issue.

It’s almost like ownership is waiting for a coach who’s currently under contract to become avaiable in a year, someone like Mike Babcock. If that’s the case, with Babcock or someone else, that’s a slippery slope to take. It’s hard enough for the Pens to look out a couple weeks in advance, let alone a couple years.

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Links ‘n At

Pens’ GM Rutherford “real close” to choosing the team’s next coach, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“The process is coming to an end,” said Rutherford, who has made a decision on one of eight candidates to interview for the opening.

“I’m still checking a few points with the lead candidate, but a decision is coming real soon.”

Rutherford declined to provide specifics regarding candidates or his choice. An announcement could be made within days, provided details of a contract can be worked out.

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AHL’s Desjardins latest Penguins candidate; interviews near end, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

Rutherford said Wednesday that a big factor in choosing the next coach is “how our top players are handled” — referring specifically to franchise centerpieces Sidney Crosby, the team captain, and Evgeni Malkin, the top alternate.

“Whoever our head coach is has to have the right relationship, the right communication, and be able to get the most out of all our players, especially those top ones,” Rutherford said.

However, Rutherford said Crosby and Malkin do not need to “like” their coach. Neither will have input in the decision, Rutherford said.

“The coach doesn’t have to be the players’ friend,” he said. “He has a job to do. They have a job to do. The coach and players only have to respect each other.

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The summer of Geno has begun, according to TSN’s Bar Down.

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Treasure Life!
JT
@JohnToperzer
@PiratesTalk

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