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Penguins fire Shero; Bylsma still the coach…for now

May 16, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT

Ray Shero Getty Images

Citing five straight seasons of underachieving in the playoffs, Pittsburgh Penguins CEO/president David Morehouse announced today that the club has fired general manager Ray Shero.

Despite an earlier report to the contrary, head coach Dan Bylsma has not been fired. The new GM will determine Bylsma’s fate, as well as the rest of the coaching staff.

In the meantime, assistant GM Jason Botterill will take over as interim GM. Botterill is also a candidate to become the new GM, who will be charged with evaluating the entire hockey operations department.

Morehouse said “there wasn’t one specific thing” that led to the decision to relieve Shero.

“We just have high expectations and want to get better,” he said.

The announcement comes three days after the Penguins were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the New York Rangers. Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, the Penguins, featuring superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, have failed to get back to the final. When they did reach the Eastern Conference Final last year, they were swept by the Boston Bruins, getting outscored 12-2 over the four games. That defeat came one year after Pittsburgh was eliminated in the first round by Philadelphia.

“We feel it is time to move our franchise in a new direction,” said co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle in a release. “We share the disappointment of our fans that we have not had success in the playoffs over the past five seasons. We believe that new leadership in the general manager’s office will bring a new approach and new energy, and help us return to championship form.”

  1. billiam55 - May 16, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    dumb move by the penguins. Bylsma should have been let go.

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 16, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    • JoeAvg - May 16, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      The way this has gone down says much about who’s decision this was. Just letting the top guy go and let his replacement take care of cleaning out those under him is typically the way it’s done in the corporate world. A hockey man would have said good bye to both. This is Ron Burkle flexing his majority owner muscle. Considering only the yes-man CEO made the announcement, I’d imagine Mario might have disagreed with letting Shero go and wanted only Byslma relieved.

  2. lowenni - May 16, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    I think this is a good call. Blysma has had his faults but has also proved himself to be a very good coach, and assuming Crosby was telling the truth when he said Blysma hadn’t lost the locker room, there is still potential for success. Shero is the most overrated GM in the NHL in my opinion. He makes big trade deadline deals, but those deals wouldn’t always be necesarry if he could actually fill out his roster with drafted talent. Here is an interesting graph from RMNB about Shero vs McPhee:

    If the Pens management can provide Blysma with a deeper defense, one or two more top-6 forwards, and some real veteran leadership for a team that lacks intensity, I don’t doubt the Pens could win the Cup again. Granted, Blysma has to be held accountable, which is why his status is up in the air. But I think it’s a good call to let Shero go and give it time to see if Blysma is still the guy going forward.

    • lowenni - May 16, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      That being said, I still think it might be time for a change of direction and I think Barry Trotz in particular would be the perfect candidate for that. Definition in a change of direction in that he would take a more defensive minded approach, hold players accountable, but I think he could still utilize Malkin and Crosby very well. Wouldn’t mind seeing Blysma end up with my Caps.

      • jaybaileys - May 16, 2014 at 12:04 PM

        Heard something about him not wanting to coach Russians after Radulov. I don’t particularly buy it, and either way Malkin has been here for awhile and signed long term. I thought Trotz would be great to mold all the young Dmen that will probably be coming up. For some reason I think Tocchet will be the coach before next season starts.

      • 16thearlofderby - May 16, 2014 at 12:30 PM

        babcock is available next year one more year for bylsma to finish his contrct

      • bmoreredfury311 - May 16, 2014 at 1:10 PM

        I normally agree with you. You have a good amount of insight. But I don’t think Blysma is not the answer for the Caps. Maybe I’m just basis. But I’d like to hear why you think he would be a better fit over Trotz or any other potential candidates?

    • rt810223 - May 16, 2014 at 11:15 PM

      I just want you to explain how he was a good coach as I never saw that. I saw him win with someone else’s system, with two of the best players in the world (a lot of coaches would win 50 games in the regular season with the roster he had for several of his years as head coach), and a lot of good fortune dropped in his lap. Maybe Dan is a great guy, I don’t know him personally and won’t act like I do like some fans feel the need to, but when it came down to it they never won when it mattered aside from ’09 (with Therrien’s systems sans a few minor tweaks). The roster was decimated over the past few years, which Bylsma undoubtedly had a part in along with 2013’s manager of the year (barf), Ray Shero, and the guy failed to make even the slightest adjustments in the playoffs. Anyone who watched the Pens over the past five years in the playoffs knows Bylsma was usually badly out-coached, often by coaches with teams which were far inferior on paper. I don’t think it is all on Bylsma by any means (the players, especially #87, need to take a long hard look in the mirror because men they are not), but some of it is and calling him a good coach is bogus. A lucky coach, yes, good? No. Hopefully the change is made sooner rather than later.

  3. penguins87and71 - May 16, 2014 at 11:52 AM


  4. c1md6 - May 16, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Hahahaha Mario Lemeuix can’t let the Penqueens go without being in the headlines, so they’re gonna drag this out make a soap opera out of it and try and remain in the headlines as much as possible. Unfortunately the Nothing But Crosby Network is gonna eat this up, and will probably talk more about the failures of the queens than the remaining success of the teams still in the playoffs.

    • hockeyfan1701 - May 16, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      Come one little guy, lets change your diaper before nap time…Let mommy and daddy have the computer back now.

      • broadstreetbeatdown - May 16, 2014 at 3:09 PM

        Are you talking about Cindy Crysby? If so, I think Mario already changed his diaper today.

      • c1md6 - May 16, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        Come one? If you’re going to facetiously insinuate that I’m a toddler then at least don’t have grammar as one, or should I say, as on? Not too high on education in Pittsburgh huh? However, I’m sure as Pens fan you’re quite used to diapers being changed, between Lemiuex and Crosby diapers have been getting changed in the steel city for years…

    • rt810223 - May 16, 2014 at 11:21 PM

      Why do I get the feeling you troll every hockey forum on every website just to type “Penqueens?” That is not creative, I hate to tell you that. Now make sure you don’t upset Mom and clean up her basement, I mean your room, before bed sport.

  5. jaybaileys - May 16, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    This is head scratching to me also, i thought both would go, or the coach at the minimum, so much for all the reports the last few days, can’t believe anything until the press conference. Botteril will be interim GM and search is on for permanent one. I predict Tocchet will be the next coach.

  6. steelpenbucs87 - May 16, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    That kind of sucks for Bylsma – just puts him in limbo while other coaching vacancies are filled. If he sticks around with a new GM, which would surprise me, he’s fine but otherwise it stinks.

    Also this has to meant he reports of him losing control of Crosby and Malkin are exaggerated right? No way he survives that.

    • apkyletexas - May 16, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      He’s still getting paid for two years, and a year in the ESPN studio and coaching international play won’t hurt his chances at all for a top job.

      Hard to feel sorry for the guy.

      • bobc74 - May 16, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        ESPN? So he’s going to be a college football/basketball commentator? ESPN only pretends hockey is a sport. Why any real fan would be getting their hockey info from them is beyond me.

  7. govtminion - May 16, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    My memory isn’t great, but wasn’t he GM of the year last season? Weird to see him canned a year later.

    • joey4id - May 16, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      Wow! What the heck is this all about? This is so bizarre. Could this be a facade? i.e. Team already settled on Botterill and he agreed to keep Bylsma.. idk. Something smells fishy in the waddle. Did Sid go to Mario and ask Dan be given another year? No way they trade Sid unless he asks for it. Those who think he should go are delusional.

      Gretzky and Shero in WSH. Why not?

      • bobc74 - May 16, 2014 at 12:26 PM

        Botterill has been the GM in Wilkes-Barre since 2009, which has enjoyed 12 consecutive seasons of post-season appearances. Not bad for a franchise that’s only 15 years old. By the way, Wilkes-Barre is currently up 2 games to 1 in their best of 7 with Providence, including a 6-1 victory and a come from behind overtime winner. Key goals have been scored by players who have suited up for both Penguins clubs this season including Chuck Kobesew and the overtime winner by Simon Despres.

    • steelpenbucs87 - May 16, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      Your memory is not great….. it’s actually been less than a year since he was named GM of the Year 😉.

      Yeah no, this is strange.

    • 7mantel - May 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      Last year it was “Just hand us the cup ” with every trade he made ,now “he’s a bum get rid of him! “

      • phillyphanatic77 - May 16, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        Haha isn’t it funny how quickly the bandwagon unloads in the Steel City?

      • 7mantel - May 16, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        Shero is better off !

      • govtminion - May 16, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        “How soon we forget.”

      • President Charles Logan - May 16, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        There’s already more then enough issues to worry about in Philly

      • 7mantel - May 16, 2014 at 12:25 PM

        Why assume I’m a Flyers fan , can’t you Pen fans for once admit that a statement made against the pens has some truth to it !

      • President Charles Logan - May 16, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        wasnt directed towards you mantel it was directed at phillyphanatic77 . im a not a pens fan either…im neutral

      • 7mantel - May 16, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        Ok ,won’t hold it against you . lol

      • maalea - May 16, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        Because Pittsburg has a little brother syndrome with Phila. So everyone who speaks out against the ‘Burg has to be the mean big brother.

      • chanceoffleury - May 16, 2014 at 9:12 PM

        Don’t be so quick to assume all of us are ready to douse it in gasoline and let it burn. This has all been unfolding in an odd way. That being said, the last year I (and many others) have been yapping about needing something big to change. Now that it’s happening and they’re making major moves it’s nerve racking….

        Also, I think it’s easy to forget that everything we might *think* is happening within that organization and locker room may all be total bs. It might be a totally different story than what the media and players and owners lead us to think. Maybe Crosby and Malkin had a falling out with Shero, not Bylsma. Maybe Lemieux, Morehouse and Burkle didn’t give Shero the go ahead to sign Letang at that high a price, or felt Malkin would have still stayed for less. Maybe they wanted to better spend that money on getting Crosby a real top line winger to bounce off of, or try and turn him over for a goaltending upgrade, or spend it on beefing up the forward depth and get solid NHL grinders instead of just filling the gaps with whatever was available in the AHL.

        It’s obvious there was some sort of difference of opinions between the ownership group and Shero. This is a huge move to say the least. It basically gives them 2 weeks to find a GM if they want to have a good draft class when all is said and done. They need a strong draft this year after giving up so many picks and prospects over the last 2 years with essentially no real long term return. Not to mention the Pens have a mess of a cap situation and need to get some offers in unless they plan on skating 14 players next year. It’s not like Zatkoff could possibly worse than Pyatt anyway?

      • rt810223 - May 16, 2014 at 11:18 PM

        Glad to see Philly fans in here telling us about our problems. Maybe try worrying about your crappy teams first, since none of them seem to win much of anything. 1975 gets further and further away every day….

      • 7mantel - May 17, 2014 at 7:24 AM

        Your obcession with the Flyers is funny ! I not a Flyers fan !

  8. sjsharks66 - May 16, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    Fire Doug Wilson and bring this guy to San Jose. What a TERRIBLE move by the Pens!!

    • skr213 - May 16, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      Fire the guy who has signed every player on the Sharks to an under-value contract? Fire the guy who has made maybe one bad trade in the last 7 years (McGinn)? Fire the guy who has brought up a friggin treasure trove of youth talent in a system that just a few years ago everyone was saying had no good prospects?? I’ll agree this was a stupid move by the Pens, but firing DW would be an equally stupid move.

  9. maalea - May 16, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    They both needed to go. The ownership is screwing Disco Dan, big time.

    Bush move leaving Bylsma twisting in the wind.

  10. 7mantel - May 16, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Can’t you media/news guys get the facts before you run with a story !!! IT’S CALLED WORK !

    • govtminion - May 16, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      Your sports blog, I’m sure, got it exactly right. Got a link?

      • 7mantel - May 16, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        I was talking about the earlier PHT story about Shero and Blysma getting fired !

    • spezzdispenser - May 16, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      @7mantel PHT was quoting another site earlier

      • 7mantel - May 16, 2014 at 1:06 PM

        Still take the time to check on a story before printing or reporting . It’s one of my pet peeves !

  11. flyboystransport - May 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    2 top 6 forwards, deeper defense and veteran leadership? Crosby and malkin are supposedly 2 of the top 5 players in the world and supposed to be the leaders of the team and have won a cup. They aren’t going to listen to someone new. Maybe they should draft better….guess they gotta tank some more again to get better

    • miketoasty - May 16, 2014 at 12:07 PM

      Actually, the Pens have at least four top six forwards (Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz) and you could probably also throw Dupuis in there as well.

      The defense is deep but the coach doesn’t trust the rookies/AHL players and would rather leave Scuderi in there to be turned into a pylon on a nightly basis.

      Drafting better would probably help at least in terms of getting better wingers but the center/defense/goalie depth is at least decent at this point.

      Thinking that the Penguins tanked any season in the last 20+ years is idiotic. But I guess if you don’t have any better insults it will work.

      • dtownbeatdown - May 16, 2014 at 1:02 PM

        Hey… you’re dumb.

        Kuntitch and Kneel are no where near top 6 forwards in the league. Your bias is showing. They maybe top 40, but not even close to top 6. Crosby and Malkin are definitely the top 2 though.

      • miketoasty - May 16, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        When I refer to “Top 6 forwards” I am referring to the team not the league. I couldn’t care less where these guys fall in the league.

      • maalea - May 16, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        I guess playing to win and giving your best effort every night for two decades is something to be proud of. But I guess milking the system is OK by you. Some teams don’t feel it’s acceptable to go down the toilet to rebuild.

      • dtownbeatdown - May 16, 2014 at 1:50 PM

        When someone says the pens have 2 of the top 6 forwards they don’t mean just the team. You rebuttal with “actually the pens have at least four top 6 forwards” doesn’t sound like you are just talking about the pens. You clearly thought top 4 of 6 in the league.

      • miketoasty - May 16, 2014 at 2:21 PM

        Quote straight from the comment “2 top 6 forwards”

        When I think of forwards in this regard, I think in the hockey sense. You have your top six and bottom six forwards. Just like you have top two defenseman as well. Meaning these players are your skilled and/or your best players at that position. Usually you can name most players to one of those (I.e. Neal is a top six forward because of his shot and scoring ability which wouldn’t be the characteristics of a bottom six forward which is usually made up of size, grit, and checking ability).

        How I interpreted his comment was that the Pens only have two top six forwards on their team, which would make sense, most of their bottom level talent is AHL worthy at best and up top they don’t have the best wingers to compliment their star centers.

        Later in the comment he also states that Corsby and Malkin are two of the best five players in the world, actually specifying what ranks he is talking about, which was left out in the first sentence therefor really it could have been taken either way.

        Also, who in their right mind would ever think that Kunitz or even Neal for that matter is any where near top six talent in the league? That’s enough right there that you should have realized that’s not what I was talking about.

      • thesportsjudge - May 16, 2014 at 3:22 PM

        Not a fan of miketoasty but he clearly meant Kunitz and Neal were top 6 in Pitt, not the league.

  12. phillyphanatic77 - May 16, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    If it’s true that Bylsma has lost his voice in the room then I’d love to see him keep his job, but c’mon this is ridiculous. Shero is a very smart man who does not deserve ALL the blame for another Pens collapse… the coach has to have some culpability here. Shero provided Bylsma with the talent enough times for them to do far more than they did.

    Now I’m almost positive the next GM brings in his own coach, but if he doesn’t then that’s just ass backwards.

  13. icrew29 - May 16, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    There is an Assistant Coach that could very well win his third straight Cup this year, any GM looking for a coach needs to think about this guy. I will leave ya’ll to figure out who that coach is.

    • hawksnation91 - May 16, 2014 at 12:57 PM

      Jamie Kompon. He might win his third STRAIGHT cup.

      • bmoreredfury311 - May 16, 2014 at 1:20 PM

        If the powers to be in D.C. were smart. They go after Jamie Kompon.

  14. pitpenguinsrulez - May 16, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    This is a head scratcher. Why not fire both. Hire a new GM first and then go after a coach once a GM is hired.

  15. elwaysmilehighdenver - May 16, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    Players running the asylum! GM didn’t skate or score all season. Players need to be accountable to management and the fans. And how about giving the Rangers a little love. They wanted that series more than the Pens. Man up Sid and be the leader that you’re getting paid to be. Bylsma is a good coach. He needs to stay.

  16. mogogo1 - May 16, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    Anybody worthy of being named GM is going to want his own guy as coach. Because who’d want to depend on somebody who got your predecessor fired?

  17. paulmazz - May 16, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    After listening to the news conference, I am convinced, more than ever, the disfunction starts up with the ownership all the way down to the towel boy! How STUPID is it to leave a coach in place when you know anyone of value for the GM position will want his own people in there. Not much good to say about the press in Pit since the questions were idiotic!

  18. 13datsyuk13 - May 16, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    Fire the guy who put together the team with all the expectations?

    • valoisvipers - May 16, 2014 at 12:58 PM

      Well said. It was the coach that needed to go.

  19. calden99 - May 16, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    That’s dumb he put together I great team it’s just bylsma couldn’t coach them

  20. blynasty - May 16, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    So do I send my resumè directly to Lemieux or does it need to filter through Morehouse first?

  21. 13datsyuk13 - May 16, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    Babs isn’t going anywhere.

  22. fpstratton - May 16, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    As a Kings fan, who had to wait forty years for a Stanley Cup, I do appreciate the frustration of fans and media when a highly touted team such as Pittsburgh doesn’t win a cup for five years, but come on! The Penguins are perennial contenders, their players are not over the hill, and the competition is quite fierce. I thought they fought very hard this year, much more so than in their lopsided losses to Boston last year and their disastrous first-round ouster by the hated Flyers two years ago. I don’t know if Crosby is 100% there after concussions and other injuries. Malkin is a bit of an enigma lately as well. When your top two aren’t on their games, it’s hard to win a Cup. Just imagine if Toews and Kane went into the tank for the Hawks….they wouldn’t still be playing. I’m not sure changing GM’s will do much. This team has been very successful in the regular season and puts out a quality product every year. The playoffs are tricky. Should the Bruins make wholesale changes because they got beat by the Habs? Should St.Louis throw all their people under the bus because they still haven’t won a Cup? Personally, I would stand pat with both Shero and Bylsma and give it one more try next year.

  23. papajack1259 - May 16, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    I could see Bylsma moving up to the GM and Mario hiring from within if not Dan done got screwed

  24. sprtsfan1 - May 16, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    Not sure I understand how the GM is the one to get the best out of the team’s best players. I believe that would fall on the coaching staff. Crosby did not have a good playoff.

  25. penguins87and71 - May 16, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again, even though it’s not working.

    • fpstratton - May 16, 2014 at 2:07 PM

      That’s a good point, but is it really not working? I understand that the ultimate measure of a team’s success is playoff performance and Stanley Cups, but I still think it’s significant that the Penguins’ winning percentage over the whole year is as good as it is. Are the playoff failures due to a systematic flaw in the team? I’m really not sure, but the playoffs are a crapshoot. Is Montreal truly a better team than Boston because it won a playoff series 4-3? Are the Rangers really a better hockey team than the Penguins? I don’t think you make wholesale changes based on the results of a few games. The San Jose Sharks are a slightly different case because they have failed for over a decade to get to the finals. Pittsburgh has had much more playoff success over those years.

  26. broadstreetbeatdown - May 16, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    Looks like the wheels are falling off the bandwagon. Trade either Crosby, Malikin or Letang (If teams are willing to gamble on that ridiculous contract and questionable health history) and get a king’s ransom in return.

  27. bbk1000 - May 16, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Fire the G.M. for an underachieving team.

    One would think that meant they have players expected to win.


  28. slysipops - May 16, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    GREAT MOVE by the PENS front office…lol ! okay i’m fibbing ! but do make this the only move….the ROOT TV guys will cover for you again next season ! this is like a soap opera >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> DAYS OF OUR PENGUINS ??

    • slysipops - May 16, 2014 at 7:09 PM

      BYLSMA says : ……………….

      • slysipops - May 16, 2014 at 7:11 PM

        to CINDY ?

  29. jason9696 - May 17, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    The Penguins should have put Dan Bylsma out of his misery and fired him. Because you know their new GM will want to put his own coach in place. This makes absolutely no sense at all.

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