Penguins fire president Brian Burke, GM Ron Hextall, assistant GM Chris Pryor
The Penguins fired president Brian Burke, GM Ron Hextall and assistant GM Chris Pryor after missing the postseason for the first time in 16 years.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are cleaning house.
The club announced on Friday the dismissal of president of hockey operations Brian Burke, general manager Ron Hextall, as well as assistant general manager Chris Pryor.
Burke, Hextall, and Pryor’s dismissal comes mere days after Pittsburgh missed the postseason for the first time in 16 seasons, dating back to captain Sidney Crosby’s rookie season.
It certainly didn’t help matters that the club, needing to win their final two games to clinch a playoff berth, dropped both at the hands of the lowly Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets.
"We are grateful to Brian, Ron, and Chris for their contributions to the organization over the past two seasons, but we feel that the team will benefit from new hockey operations leadership,” Fenway Sports Group owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner said in a statement. “While this season has been disappointing, we believe in our core group of players and the goal of contending for the Stanley Cup has not changed."
Hired in February 2021 amidst sweeping changes to the Penguins' front office, Burke and Hextall’s tenure in Pittsburgh concludes a short yet tumultuous one. The organization failed to advance past the first round in Burke’s previous two seasons, including a disheartening loss in 2021 as the East Division’s top seed to the New York Islanders.
This season specifically, even more so than the regime’s prior two runs, served as a significant failure, with a perplexing trade deadline that failed to address needs spelling the end for a group unable to build a complete contender. Stretch-run acquisitions Mikael Granlund, Nick Bonino and Dmitri Kulikov all performed poorly, with Granlund in particular collecting just five points in 21 games as the Penguins' biggest pickup.
Having failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, this year also marks five straight seasons without a playoff round win, their longest such stretch since the mid-2000s.
Until a new leadership group is put into place, the Penguins have outlined that day-to-day hockey operations will be shared amongst a group that includes director of hockey operations Alec Schall and head coach Mike Sullivan, amongst others.
The team says the search for a new masthead will begin immediately.