PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — The Penguins have promoted Mike Bales to the role of goaltending coach, replacing the recently retired Gilles Meloche, the team announced Monday. Meloche held the job for the previous seven seasons.
Bales, 42, played very briefly in the NHL for the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators in the mid-1990s before heading overseas to mind the twine for a number of professional teams in England, Sweden, and Germany beginning in 2001.
The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan Native was hired as a goaltending development coach and amateur scout by the Penguins July 23, 2011. He has helped evaluate goaltenders internally and externally for all levels of the organization.
He worked with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton duo of Jeff Zatkoff and Brad Thiessen last season, who, together, backstopped the Baby Pens to the top of the AHL in goals allowed. Zatkoff, in particular, flourished, going 26-20 with a .920 save percentage, five shutouts, and an AHL-best 1.93 goals-against average.
Marc-Andre Fleury is again the projected starter for the big club, despite another year of poor postseason play. He promised to see a sports psychologist in the off-season, as originally reported by Joe Starkey of The Fan and the Tribune-Review in late July.
He went 23-8 with a 2.39 GAA and .916 save percentage in the truncated 2012-13 regular season before going just 2-2 with a 3.52 GAA and .883 save percentage, losing his job to free agent Tomas Vokoun.
Vokoun, who posted a 2.01 GAA and .933 save percentage in the playoffs despite going just 6-5, was in goal for series-clinching games against the Sens and New York Islanders. He went 13-4 during the regular season with a 2.45 GAA, .919 save percentage, and three shutouts.
The Pens open training camp in less than a month.