PITTSBURGH — Jim Rutherford doesn’t believe the Pittsburgh Penguins need to undergo a massive overhaul to regain their spot among the NHL’s elite.
One thing is for certain: Dan Bylsma won’t be part of the process.
The Penguins fired the franchise’s all-time winningest coach on Friday while hiring Rutherford away from the Carolina Hurricanes to replace Ray Shero as general manager. Rutherford’s first decision was to end the three weeks of limbo for Bylsma, whose star-laden teams had fallen well short of the Stanley Cup since winning it all in 2009.
“What ownership wants here is a complete change in direction, one with the GM and one with the coach,” Rutherford said.
Bylsma won 252 games behind the bench and was the Jack Adams Award winner in 2012 as the NHL’s Coach of the Year but failed to produce a bookend to the championship he captured with stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in 2009. The Penguins were just 4-5 in playoff series since raising the 2009 Cup, with each loss coming to a lower-seeded team.
Pittsburgh’s latest defeat came last month when the Penguins fell to the New York Rangers in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Rutherford met with Bylsma on Friday morning as part of an organization-wide shake-up. In addition to dismissing Bylsma, the Penguins promoted Jason Botterill to associate general manager, named Bill Guerin and Tom Fitzgerald assistant general managers.
The 65-year-old Rutherford takes over for Shero, who was fired on May 16. The new gig is a homecoming for the former goaltender. Rutherford played for the Penguins in the 1970s before spending 20 years with the franchise that began as the Hartford Whalers, moved to North Carolina in 1997 and won the Stanley Cup in 2006.
The Hurricanes struggled maintaining that success, missing the post-season each of the last five years.