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Penguins seek complete directional change without sweeping roster moves

Jun 6, 2014, 1:49 PM EDT

Jim Rutherford AP

New Pittsburgh general manager Jim Rutherford suggested that the Penguins ownership wants a “complete change of direction,” but they aren’t going to accomplish that by rebuilding, or even necessarily making major moves from a roster perspective.

As an extension of that, Rutherford doesn’t anticipate the Penguins having an exciting free-agent period due to their current salary cap situation. Instead, the biggest changes will come from the coaching staff and front office.

The first step in that was firing bench boss Dan Bylsma. Rutherford wants to replace him with a guy that can make adjustments to the team over the course of the season and during playoff series to counter their opponents.

“I don’t think (the Penguins) could make the proper adjustments against certain teams,” Rutherford said.

He also wants to bring analytics into the organization, which is an area he feels Pittsburgh has been lagging behind in. Rutherford doesn’t see analytics as some sort of holy grail of hockey information, but he believes that they’re another tool that the Penguins should have in their arsenal.

For the most part though, it sounds like Rutherford’s purpose will be to act as a bridge to the Penguins’ future. While he hopes to win a championship while he’s here, the 65-year-old only plans to stay around for only two or three years. He thinks the Penguins have potential general manager candidates within the organization and it looks like he’s already thinking about a succession plan.

With that in mind, the Penguins also announced that Jason Botterill will serve as the team’s associate general manager while Bill Guerin and Tom Fitzgerald have been selected as assistant general managers.

  1. drewsylvania - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    This will only work if Lemieux is on board and he can get Crosby on board.

    • hockey412 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      Didn’t Lemieux hire the guy? Pretty sure that would signal that he’s on board.

      • joey4id - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        hehehe! You think! Eh! They needed an older experienced wiser GM to take over. A younger GM may have made too many bold moves. What the Pens need will play well in the hands of Rutherford.

      • hockey412 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        I think there’s a lot of truth to that. Something tells me that there is a lot more to being a GM than just draft this guy, trade this guy. There are a lot of things that Botterill is probably still learning.

        Remember the whole mess when Feaster made an offer to O’Reilly just to find out that if Colorado hadn’t matched, he’d have had to clear waivers anyway? It was easy to make fun of the guy buy how many people actually knew that…a transition where Botterill takes more of an active role and learns more isn’t a bad thing. As long as no one else snags him, which could very well happen.

      • joey4id - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        I’m sure the Pens tied up all loss ends and that Botterill is on board with the plan. Right?

      • drewsylvania - Jun 6, 2014 at 5:41 PM

        He’s on board with the hire. Doesn’t mean he’ll like the direction Rutherford ends up taking the team.

      • hockey412 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:51 AM

        I think people have completely missed the point with the Rutherford hire – which is easy to do when you don’t even follow the team. There’s a reason that they hired a guy in his 60’s that has already said he wants out of the normal day to day operations in one organization, and also promoted an up-and-comer that has already served as Asst. GM and just needs more time to learn the day to day. Rutherford isn’t taking this team anywhere without ownership and Botterill completely buying in.

  2. JoeAvg - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    Not as good as the “trainer” Stan Bowman has had (hey dad what do you think of this?) but it could have been worse. Still, it seems like a strange situation. I hope it works.

  3. hockey412 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    There needs to be some type of movement to address the lack of depth on offense, and Martin and Letang will need partners. Hopefully this is just a “goes without saying” for JR.

  4. ravanator - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    LOL! This franchise is falling apart and is now the biggest joke in the NHL. It’s called loyalty, obviously a word people in Pittsburgh don’t know. Enjoy living in the basement of the eastern conference for many years to come. Cheers!


    • theageofquarrel - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      Hey Garbage,please explain how the Caps are superior to the Penguins? We are all waiting for your garbage knowledge. Please enlighten us with your garbage.

      • ravanator - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:37 PM

        Since 2010, Caps 9-6 against the Pens. I know you probably struggle with math, so I will hold nothing against you little buddy. Cheers!


      • theageofquarrel - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        Since 2010? Is that when you started watching hockey? Try harder,Garbage

      • theageofquarrel - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        Also,the Penguins swept the Craps this past season. Yeah that’s really owning the Penguins.

    • hockey412 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      Loyalty…it’s weird to hear you say that, aren’t the Caps on their fourth coach in as many years?

    • hockeyfan1701 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      Don’t feed the trolls

  5. gbart22 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    Aside from the troll ravanter who is spewing nonsense if they don’t change some of the players around then nothing really changed. Why did you need to let shero go if nothing was really changing via trade or free agency? You could have just fired the coach if you wanted a change in the way the team played the actual game. The gm’s don’t coach. Seems very bizarre the whole thing like a reaction just for the sake of reaction to show the fans they are proactive even if nothing really changes.

    Should we ask Rutherford about what was wrong in Carolina all these years? Did analytics not work there? Should we ask why after being allowed to spend why that team still failed repeatedly to even make the playoffs?

    Just seems so off the whole penguins mess and I’m not a flyers fan who is trolling but legitimately wondering what is going on as a hockey fan.

    • hockey412 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      As a Pens fan, I would have to agree. Confusing. I’m hoping they are just saying they aren’t going to overreact and trade Malkin or Crosby, etc.

  6. chrisk61 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    the pens need a captain who will make sacrifices on the ice to help his team win. the sacrifices will be seen by his teammates who will also make them. crosby is not that guy. what crosby’s teammates see is an immense talent who avoids physicality due to concussion fears and whose primary behaviors are whining and diving.

    pens also need a goalie upgrade. fleury is a shell of his stanley cup final years.

    • miketoasty - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      Since when has Jonathan Toews, Gabriel Landeskog, or Jamie Benn ever been known for their “Sacrifices”? All three of them are captains and they all captain similar to Crosby.

      And how is Fleury a “Shell” of his Stanley Cup Final years? He had his best playoff numbers this past postseason since the 2008 SCF run the year before he actually won the cup, but I guess since he didn’t win the cup he’s terrible right?

      The Pens scored three goals in their final three games this season, I think the bigger problem here is the offense’s inability to produce anything when it counts (Small sample size but Boston last year and final three games this year).

  7. timmons94 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    Want to give a shout out to Scott Hartnell for his post of cy Clark. I know us pens favs give Hartnell a lot of junk but dude is a good hockey player and even better guy. Love that guy

  8. timmons94 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:36 PM

    Taco Bell must of been slow ravanator off early..
    Go watch your caps Stanley cup DVD highlights… Oh wait

  9. timmons94 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    Poor little ravanator.
    Ratbirds 0-3 in playoffs vs steelers trail 6-2 in titles
    Caps 1-4 vs pens and trail 3-0 in cups
    Orioles 0-2 vs pirates in World Series
    Sounds like a little girl suffers from Pittsburgh envy. Join the line little ravanator

    • theageofquarrel - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      Garbage will be garbage!!!

  10. jimeejohnson - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    Whammy: see you at the parade, in L.A. or NY.

  11. erbaker67 - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    Not exactly sure how I feel about the moves but now that Rutherford is the GM, what coach do you bring in? What style do you play with the talent the Penguins have? What was Bylsma lacking to produce offense in the postseason?

  12. whiskytango333 - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    I think this comes down to the Penguins management wanting to bring an experienced GM with the wealth of relationships and credibility around the league to acquire the talent from other teams to right the ship. I think they also wanted someone to come in and give a realistic evaluation of the talent on the team and make the tough choices, uninhibited by other factors such as long term job security and therefore being too conservative or political with their decisions.

    I like that they kept Botterill on board. This is still his team in a few years. I just hope he doesn’t jump ship beforehand. He’s a wizard with the cap.

  13. wenzel0232 - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    From a Carolina fan…


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