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HOF columnist says Botterill tops Pens GM candidate list

Jun 5, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT

JasonBotterill Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins search for a new general manager continues on and while the list of candidates is pretty well known at this point, but figuring out who has the edge for the job is tricky.

There’s not a lot of talk coming out of Pittsburgh about the direction things are headed as Penguins brass including Mario Lemieux, Joe Burkel, and David Morehouse are keeping mum.

All that means is there’s plenty of speculation to go around. Hall of Fame writer Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has about as much credibility as anyone regarding the team and he ranked the top five candidates for the position.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill was his top choice.

“Sometimes, the best answer is the most obvious one, and that might well be the case here. Botterill was Shero’s assistant and has handled every conceivable duty, from negotiating contracts to evaluating free agents, during five seasons in that role. He is regarded as one of the top young front-office talents in the league, and it’s a given that he will be a general manager sometime soon. There appears to be no good reason that it shouldn’t happen now. Here.”

As for the rest of his top five, Lightning assistant GM Julien BriseBois came in second, Predators assistant GM Paul Fenton was third, NBC Sports’ Pierre McGuire fourth, and fellow Pens assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald fifth.

The common thread with that group is none of them have been in the top GM position before. All five are or have been assistant GMs. Pittsburgh looking for some new blood at the executive ranks may seem like a curious move, but a fresh set of eyes can do a lot of good.

  1. beergold - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    Crosby and Malkin will be relieved to know they won’t be getting their legs humped every time they come to the rink by McGuire!

    • sticks169 - Jun 5, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      That is a perfect way to put it. The man crush he has on them is unreal. was hoping he would get hired by them so we could stop having to hear him talk about nonsense during the games he calls. He is the most annoying announcer out there followed by Tripp Tracy. They both have love affairs with some players.

  2. JoeAvg - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    Been kinda hoping for BriseBois myself. I dunno, this doesn’t make sense to me. Isn’t he part of the staff (a big one as assistant GM) that hired the scouts and who’ve made the bad drafting decisions? That offered some questionable contracts? I realize the final word on everything would have been Shero’s but surely those around him have to share some of the blame. I don’t see a move like this being much of a change in culture, which I think is what this team needs more than anything. I’m all for fresh blood, but this seems more like recycling the old.

  3. dchambers144 - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    I believe you mean Ron Burkle, not Joe Burkle. Ron Burkle is co-owner (and the main money) of the Pens.

  4. chrisk61 - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    pens won’t move forward til they replace the C and G.

    shero’s undoing was giving crosby the huge extension and sticking with fleury, particularly after vokoun won 2 rds for them last yr.

    perhaps jordan staal should have the C and crosby should be long gone.

    • theageofquarrel - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:39 AM

      Good thing you aren’t a GM.

    • JoeAvg - Jun 5, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      Yeah signing the guy who most feel is the best player in the world to long term contract that will seem like a steal in a few years was a bad move.

      What are you going to do with Vokoun? Stick him in the net with his blood clot?

      I normally don’t bother replying to the multitude of ignorant posts seen on this board but yours is one of the most ridiculous I’ve bothered to read.

      Now go away or I may taunt you a second time.

    • thesportsjudge - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      Not a Pens fan here but I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t have signed Crosby to the extension he got(injuries notwithstanding.) I don’t think he should be a captain, but I’d take him all day on my team. His talent far outweighs his leadership abilities. I’d venture a guess that Crosby was at his best when he had teammates like Bill Guerin. BG had ALL the (quiet/lockerroom) leadership qualities someone like Crosby needs.

      • pdmjr - Jun 5, 2014 at 5:19 PM

        Not true, he is the team leader all the players know it and respect him. Just heard a former Pen say that Crosby leads by work ethic and example and will get in your face.

        Leadership comes from all sources, Lemieux hardly spoke in the room. He would make a statement and sit down. Kevin Stevens and Bob Errey were the enforcers in there

      • thesportsjudge - Jun 5, 2014 at 6:26 PM

        While I don’t doubt his work ethic, I still believe him to be an assistant captain at most. To be honest, if he were to have the C stripped, I think he would emerge a captain down the line.

  5. buddysguys - Jun 5, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    nothing says change like promoting from with in

  6. c9castine - Jun 5, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    People need to keep this whole situation in perspective. Like some have said, theres more than a few of you who would make exceptionally bad GMs, or decision makers in general for that matter.

    Yes it is a talented team, one with high standards and high expectations from the fan base.

    Keep in mind though that they had a 109 pt regular season, and made it just as far in the playoffs as Boston and Anaheim (Boston winning the President’s Trophy this year) and further than St. Louis, a team many were calling the best in the league in February. I had one guy argue with me for like 2 days on that topic.

    My point is that yes, it was decided a change at the top was the right move. That doesnt mean Ray Shero was a complete failure. He did a plethora of great things for the organization – and while I am the first to criticize his drafts (not going to lie, it hurts knowing we could have picked Pittsburgh player Brandon Saad and instead took Joe Morrow turned Brendan Morrow turned nothing) he wasnt a complete failure there either. He has used some peices to bring in guys like Billy Guerin, Gary Roberts, Chris Kunitz, and Marian Hossa. And he has also drafted a few guys in recent years who show a lot of promise, including Calder conversation piece Olli Maatta.

    Jason Botterill by all accounts does not share idealogies with Ray Shero. Just because he worked for him doesn’t mean he is a carbon copy. Ray Shero is by no means a carbon copy of David Poile. Yes Shero was handed Crosby and Malkin but his teams are built much differently than those in Nashville.

    You aren’t in the interviews, you aren’t talking to these guys and you have no idea what their think should happen to this team and what their ideas are and how they would influence the culture.

    While this is a group that hasn’t reached their goals in the past few years its also a group that has won it all. Keep that in mind.

    • bmscalise - Jun 5, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Amen – the drama out of Pittsburgh has been ridiculous (and reflective of how little most people know the sport). The belief that this team is in “collapse” is widespread – despite the fact that they achieved about what one could expect them to, as a good team with some obvious flaws. Despite losing a one-goal game 7 to a team in the championship right now.

      This process needs to be handled delicately, precisely because this team could easily be made worse by the GM and coach that gets hired. It could be made worse if too many dramatic changes are made that don’t need to be made – just to placate a melodramatic fan base.

      Everyone agrees this team needs better drafting and some younger, bigger forwards. It also needs a coach that can teach – and that will play younger guys over the “good guy” veterans, instead of punishing them for every mistake with 2 weeks in the press box. Why is ancient Craig Adams playing over, say, a fiesty agitator like Zach Sill? Why is talentless Deryk Engelland playing over Simon Despres? And it needs a coach that will simplify the system, to make the most of the lower-tier guys instead of the least. It’s no accident that guys like Ben Lovejoy got better after they left Pitt.

      What should not be done?:
      1) Trade Fleury – who more than redeemed himself, if for no other reason than you will not be replacing him with a better goalie, since they are all signed long-term elsewhere. (I also suspect a new, simpler system with a better coach will get Fleury back to the type of numbers he put up under Therrien.)

      2) Trade Letang – The team would never ever get the return for him they should – not even close. And then he’d walk into that new team and play like he did the year he was nominated for the Norris: he’s had just terrible injury luck the last couple of years, and people forget how talented he is. Paul Martin is the better d-man, but he can’t drive the offense alone. Maatta going to regress next year, coming off of major surgery, and Pouliot will spend the year in the AHL for the same reason. The Pens offense would be completely hampered – and the greater amount of time spent in the d-zone would be shocking (just like when he was hurt this year). And it should be remembered that he spent most of the games he played weighed down by Rob Scuderi – and looked good with P. Martin.

      Outside of Sid, Geno, and Martin – I say make one big trade, at most – likely Neal. Otherwise, the team is likely to go backwards.

      • c9castine - Jun 5, 2014 at 6:01 PM

        wow. agree with you 100% i never say that. whole post. trading Letang would be really stupid.

  7. oquintero99 - Jun 5, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    Would like Brisebois. Tampa’s AHL farm team has been very successful…good drafting, scouting, and free agent signings.

  8. whiskytango333 - Jun 5, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    I’m good with Botterill. The guy is great working with the salary cap.

    My only fear is that if it is him, that Bylsma ends up staying, which is the guy who should have had his bags packed for him to begin with. I certainly hope the directive from upper management upon hiring of the new GM is for him to assemble another coaching staff.

    • c9castine - Jun 5, 2014 at 6:09 PM

      i think with botterill the chances of bylsma staying are actually lower than ever.

      last guy lost his job for keeping him.

  9. bobc74 - Jun 5, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    Where in the heck did you pluck the name “Joe Burkel” from? It’s RON BURKLE, and it’s the second name on the list of “Executives” on the Penguins web site. And you call yourself a sports “journalist”? Obviously, you’ll never be a HOF columnist.

  10. drewzducks - Jun 5, 2014 at 10:37 PM

    Pierre is the only choice. Perfect suck up for a bunch of suckers. Fifteen minute practices followed by 2 hour mandatory showers with one on ones starting and ending with Sid.

  11. raleighcaniac - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    So much for this HOF writers cred – Pens just hired Jim Rutherford.

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