The Pittsburgh Penguins are still on schedule with their search for a new Head Coach, despite the recent drama that has stirred up a lot of tension in the fan community. The original timetable was that they would begin the search on June 16th and have a man in place by the time Free Agency begins on July 1st, but they did not anticipate having one prior to the Draft on June 27th. So according to our original schedule we are still right on track with over a week left to make the final decision.
When Rutherford came on board as the new GM he said he had two lists that he was working from, a short list of 3 names and a longer list with 6 names. He received calls from other teams and even some individual coaches inquiring about whether they would be interested in other options as well, and in the end they wound up with a list of 8 that came in for interviews.
The original list included John Hynes, Marc Crawford, Ron Wilson, Ulf Samuelsson, Bill Peters, Tom Renney, Doug MacLean, and an unnamed 8th interviewee. It is entirely possible that the 8th man was Rick Tocchet, whom they brought in to interview as an Assistant Coach. They were also interested in John Stevens, but the Los Angeles Kings didn't give teams permission to speak with him and then promoted him to Associate Coach.
We got word in the middle of the week that the interviews were over and that they had narrowed the search down to 2 finalists, then were told that they decided upon their man and were just working out the details. They appear to have zeroed in on Peters, but then the Carolina Hurricanes swooped in and made him a better offer.
With their top choice out of the picture they had to scramble to find a new guy, and the first place they looked was Willie Desjardins, who had previously been unavailable due to being busy winning the Calder Cup. They liked what they heard in the phone interview enough to fly him in for an in-person meeting, but they were unable to reach mutually acceptable terms and the Pens waved goodbye as he headed to the Vancouver Canucks.
The last update after the dust settled was that Crawford decided he was going to return to Switzerland after being passed over by both Pittsburgh and the Florida Panthers. The Pens are expected to add two or three new names to the list when they return to their interviews this week, and so far the one name that has cropped up as a possibility to come in for an interview is WHL HC Mike Johnston of the Portland Winterhawks, and it wouldn't be a shock if the rumours about Mike Keenan, fresh off his Gagarin Cup with Mettalurg Magnitogorsk, was brought in for an interview as well.
So who is left?
John Hynes - Head Coach AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Marc Crawford - Returning to Switzerland
Ron Wilson - Out of work since being fired by Toronto Maple Leafs in 2012
Ulf Samuelsson - Assistant Coach New York Rangers
Bill Peters - Joined the Carolina Hurricanes
Tom Renney - Associate Coach Detroit Red Wings
Doug MacLean - TV Analyst, hasn't coached since being replaced by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2004
Rick Tocchet - Supposedly going to be the Pens' new Assistant Coach
Willie Desjardins - Joined the Vancouver Canucks
Mike Johnston - Rumoured to be in the running, Head Coach WHL Portland Witnerhawks
Mike Keenan - Rumoured to be in the running, Head Coach KHL Mettalurg Magnitogorsk