The overhaul has begun.
At a press conference this morning, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that General Manager Ray Shero would not be returning for 2014-15. Head coach Dan Bylsma, who many thought would be the first casualty, still has a job. Penguins President David Morehouse announced that any decisions about the coaching staff will be up to the new GM.
Assistant GM Jason Botterill will take over as interim until a full-time replacement can be found.
While many were 50/50 on Shero returning to the Pens next year, everyone and their brother saw the writing on the wall for Bylsma long ago, which is what makes his sticking around, at least for the time being, pretty surprising.
While many are citing their second round loss against the Rangers as the reason for this house cleaning, these events were set in motion long ago. Even if the Pens managed to hold on and beat New York in game seven, another collapse at the hands on the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Finals would likely have been the case.
Both Shero and Bylsma are good men and good hockey minds, and neither (if that’s the case) will be out of a job for very long. Having said that, it was time for a change in Pittsburgh.
Both did good things in their time here. Shero was on the winning end of some very skewed trades, and Bylsma’s ability to win despite some huge injuries is remarkable. Not to mention the Stanley Cup in 2009.
Having said that, five straight playoff losses to a lower-seeded opponent seems like a final nail in the coffin for Bylsma, while Shero’s poor draft record and inability to put together a legitimate cup-contender since winning it all in 2009 proved his downfall.
Who takes over now is anyone’s guess.
On the coaching front, rumors about the Penguins interests in Detroit Mike Babcock, who has yet to be given a contract extension, have been swirling for some time now. It may see a little far fetched, and most likely probably is, but Babcock is far and away Pittsburgh’s best option going forward as coach.
If Bylsma is fired, other possible names are as varied and wide-ranging as you could imagine, with everyone from Barry Trotz to Mike Keenan in the mix.
It’s a bizarre situation that will only get more bizarre, but until everything gets sorted out, all we can do is watch.