PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Penguins fired head coach Mike Johnston and assistant coach Gary Agnew Saturday morning.
General Manager Jim Rutherford has announced that Mike Sullivan has been named head coach.READ MORE: Butler County Community College Closes For 2 Days Due To Ransomware Attack
“I want to thank Mike Johnston and Gary Agnew for their contributions to the Penguins,” Rutherford said. “They are good hockey men, and we wish them all the best.”
Rutherford spoke to the media Saturday afternoon.
“I felt it was time for a coaching change because our team has underachieved,” he said. “Our expectations are much higher with this group.”
Sullivan comes to the Penguins after being head coach for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, where he led the team to an 18-5 record.
KDKA-TV’s Amy Wadas spoke to some Penguins fans who also weighed in on the news.
“That’s where Bylsma came from. That’s where Therrian came from so that seems to be the stepping stone,” Pens fan Chuck Hendershot said.
“I believe that [Sullivan]’s the guy that can come in and really take control and really make some guys more accountable when we’re not performing at the level that we think we should be,” Rutherford said.
Fans say it was a much needed stepping stone.
“Fans are hungry for a win. The past few years have been a disappointment in the playoffs. We need a change, let’s do it,” Pens fan Craig Martin said.
So far, the Pittsburgh Penguins are 15-10-3 this season and 4-3-3 in their last ten games.READ MORE: North Allegheny, Mt. Lebanon Among Highest-Ranked Schools In The Area
“We’re real close to getting to where we need to go,” Rutherford said. “I’d like to add another player to make a good run in the playoffs.”
Johnston joined the Penguins as head coach in June of 2014 and dismissed after 115 games. Agnew was hired July of 2014.
“I’m surprised. I thought they’d give him a longer chance,” Pens fan Matthew Hartman said.
Other fans say surprised isn’t in their vocabulary.
“I’m not really surprised because they haven’t been really effective since they fired the last coach,” Pens fan Jay Stevens said.
“The last four Penguin coaches that got fired, I predicted within days of their firing. Last night, hours of their firing,” Pens fan Ron Steedle said.
Ron Steedle has been a Penguins season ticket holder since 1970.
“I’ve been going since 66 when they were the Hornets,” Steedle said.
He’s been to over 1,500 games. New coach and all, Steedle says it will take time for the Pens to bounce back.
“This is the way the Penguins are going to be for a while. That’s the way the NHL is. I always said there’s a shelf life on the kind of talent you have,” Steedle said.
Current coaching assistant Jacques Martin will replace Agnew as assistant coach.MORE NEWS: Jewish Communities Around Greater Pittsburgh Come Together To Celebrate Hanukkah