After another playoff disappointment, the Pittsburgh Penguins were going to make changes.
They’ve apparently decided to clean house at the top.
The Penguins announced on Friday that general manager Ray Shero has been fired, hitting the reset button on a management group that’s overseen an eight-season playoff appearance streak and to the Stanley Cup in 2009.
They haven't played for another on since then.
Coach Dan Bylsma, contrary to earlier reports, has not been fired. CEO David Morehouse said the new GM would evaluate the entire coaching staff before making a decsion on Bylsma, who has the best regular-season winning percentage (.670) in team history with an all-time record of 252-117-32 since his hiring in 2008-09.
"We're trying to do it systematically. We wanted to address the situation at the top, and once that's done, we'll re-evaluate," said Morehouse of Bylsma, who has two years left on his contract.
The Penguins lost in the conference finals in 2013, but Bylsma’s teams have otherwise lost in the quarterfinals twice an the semifinals twice, including the Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday night after blowing a 3-1 series lead.
Shero took over as GM in 2006 and built a team that made the Stanley Cup Final in 2008 and won the Cup in 2009. But he’s seen the backbone of those teams slowly slip away via free agency and trades, and has been unable to find the right supporting cast for captain Sidney Crosby and fellow superstar Evgeni Malkin.
In particular, the Penguins became a top-heavy, two-line team that has the ninth-highest payroll in the League. Crosby struggled mightily in the playoffs, and has one goal in his last 18 playoff games.
Something had to change.
According to McKenzie, the Penguins will install assistant GM Jason Botterill on an interim. As one of the most respected assistants in the league, he may have a shot at winning the job, and the Penguins confirmed that he's a candidate. McKenzie also wonders if former Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford might be interested in taking over the Penguins.
This story was updated after the Penguins press conference.
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