PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins have hired Jim Rutherford as their new general manager and fired coach Dan Bylsma.
Former Carolina Hurricanes GM Rutherford was announced as the Pens next GM during a press conference Friday.
KDKA’s Mike Zappone Reports:
The Penguins announced via Twitter prior to the press conference that coach Dan Bylsma has also been fired.
Pens CEO David Morehouse said it’s about rebuilding.
“We haven’t had the success we wanted over the past five seasons,” he said.
Morehouse said Rutherford flew into Pittsburgh Thursday to meet with him and Mario Lemieux, as well as sign his contract.
Rutherford said during Friday’s press conference that he’s excited to work the Penguins and players such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
“This is a job that most GMs would like to have,” Rutherford said. “And I was very lucky and very fortunate at this point in my career that I’ve been given this opportunity.”
Rutherford went on to say that the deal happened very quickly after meeting with Pens officials Saturday.
“The whole thing transpired really in a matter of a couple days,” he said.
As they got more serious with discussions and Rutherford talked with team officials about what has happened, he says it was clear that they needed to fire Bylsma.
“We determined that it was time to go on a different direction with the coach also,” he said.
Rutherford said he and Pens officials met with Bylsma Friday morning to relieve him of his position as head coach. However, with many coaching vacancies in the NHL, Rutherford says it won’t be long before Bylsma’s scooped up by another team.
Rutherford, 65, is a former Penguins goalie, and was the general manager in Carolina for some 20-years.
He did help get Carolina to two Stanley Cup finals, including a win in 2006.
Other rumored candidates for the job included Pens assistant general manager Jason Botterill, NBC analyst Pierre McGuire, Tampa Bay Lightning assistant general manager Julien BriseBois and a number of others.
Jason Botterill will work alongside Rutherford as associate general manager, he said. Tom Fitzgerald and Bill Guerin have also been promoted to assistant general managers.
Rutherford says he’ll rely heavily on Guerin, who was a player himself not too long ago and understands what “makes these players tick.”
“He’s going to be my day-to-day guy who really communicates with the players,” Rutherford said.
The new Pens GM also says he plans to rely more on analytics than the team has in the past. He said he plans to hire someone in the next few weeks for this purpose.
However, Rutherford’s former team has missed out on the playoffs the past five years, leaving questions as to what he’ll do differently.
“I have reasons and I know what they were,” he said, adding that goaltending and injuries have been a big issue.
He also says he’ll let the new head coach make the decision whether to keep the current coaching staff.
Rutherford stepped aside from GM duties, but was expected to stay on with Carolina as the club’s president.
He was replaced by Hurricanes legend and former Penguin Ron Francis.
Rutherford also played for the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings.
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