PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Wednesday. During the interview, he reported that Portland Winterhawks (WHL) head coach Mike Johnston is the “front-runner” in the Penguins’ coaching search.
Dreger doesn’t think anybody should be worried about Johnston being a juniors coach. He told the guys that Johnston has been on the Pens’ list of candidates from the start and was also a “Plan B option” for the Canucks.
“[He] is highly-regarded by most NHL executives, if not all,” Dreger said. “He’s been around a long time. This is a guy that has been around the NHL game, he’s been around the hockey community for a long, long time, and he’s qualified to be a head coach.”
Dreger also addressed Josh Yohe’s report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that former Lightning head coach Guy Boucher could be the guy for the Pens’ job. Dreger said while Boucher could be considered an attractive option, he simply doesn’t appear to be the leading candidate at the moment.
“I can’t say that Guy Boucher isn’t a candidate,” Dreger said. “Until you actually see the whites of the eyes of the man who has been named head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, can we be 100 percent sure. I’m saying that I think Mike Johnston is the front-runner.”
Dreger also shot down the notion that the Penguins are factoring Mike Babock’s future into their personnel move.
“They’re not hiring a stopgap here,” Dreger said.
The interview can be heard here: