Friday was a good day for me to be traveling, right? Of course, the big news broke, with the Pittsburgh Penguins naming Jim Rutherford the new general manager, and Rutherford summarily announcing that Dan Bylsma has been fired, as well as new positions within the organization.
Who's come out looking good, and who has taken steps back? Let's analyze.
|The Who||Stock change||Comments|
|Jim Rutherford||No doubt the biggest winner, Rutherford went from resigning as Carolina Hurricanes GM five weeks ago, to now being rewarded as the head decision maker for a team that boasts Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and other key building blocks already in place. Not bad for a 65-year-old manager who even charitably hasn't had much success recently, missing the last five postseasons in Carolina.|
|Dan Bylsma||The other shoe was always going to drop after the Shero firing, but still a sad end for Bylsma, who leaves a great job that he had a pretty good record in (recent playoffs aside). He's a good coach and better guy, he won't be unemployed for long.|
|The treatment of Dan Bylsma||Probably the worst thing about this whole situation. The Pens told Bob McKenzie that they were going to fire Bylsma, then "reconsidered" at the last minute. Why? Everyone knew Bylsma was gone, but the Penguins executives let this guy hang in the wind for weeks; meanwhile, other jobs that Bylsma conceivably could have been a strong candidate for (like the Washington Capitals gig) got filled. Maybe there are reasons for how the Pens treated Bylsma, but none of the obvious ones seem like good ones.|
|David Morehouse||Rutherford, unlike Shero, directly reports to Morehouse. And with ownership content to linger in the background with joint press releases, Morehouse is now the face and voice of Penguins management.|
|Current assistant coaches||Except for maybe goalie coach Mike Bales (whom the Pens would be wise to retain for his work with Marc-Andre Fleury) the rest of the assistant coaches are now at the mercy of the new head coach. They, especially Tony Granato and Todd Reirden, are almost certainly not going to return to the team.|
|Jason Botterill||Botterill received a promotion from assistant GM to associate GM, but interviewed for the full-time GM job and didn't get it. So it's a step forward, but not the full one. With Rutherford being 65 years old and admitting he's not long for this job, Botterill is the main choice to be groomed for the job long-term, if his performance can convince management that he's ready for it.|
|Tom Fitzgerald||He drops the Dwight Schrute-esque "assitant to the GM" job title and is now a full assistant GM. Fitzgerald will still report to Botterill, so he's not #1 in the pecking order for the next wave of management candidates, but he now represents a viable candidate for the job in the future, which is more than most thought he would be coming into the process.|
|Bill Guerin||Drops the player development role and gets a promotion to be an assistant GM too. Guerin's role was described as being a "go-between" from management to the players. Given Guerin's solid rapport with the players (including the most important one), it should be a natural fit. And, the last guy Rutherford had in this role, Ron Francis, ended up getting groomed for the head GM job. Guerin would have to leapfrog the more established peers in Botterill and Fitzgerald, but who knows how the future will sort out.|
|Pierre McGuire||He may (or may not) have been offered the Pens GM job, but he was a legitimate candidate for said job, which improves his stock and reputation around the league for future jobs that will open up.|
|Pens fans who wanted to see Rob Scuderi out||It was probably bound to happen no matter who the new GM was (also, there's no sense in publicly lessening the already low trade value) but GMJR didn't throw Scuderi under the bus. "I know he didn't play as well here last year, but you can't always go based on one year," he said. "Sometimes, it's one year off, and then they're back on track. He's a key factor in this."|
|Kris Letang||Rutherford said he had no "urgency" to deal Letang, who sees a $7.25 million cap hit and limited no-trade clause kick in this summer. Unless GMJR changes course quickly, it appears Letang will be sticking around for the start of his new contract.|
|Marc-Andre Fleury||Rutherford said of his new goalie: "I think he's a very good goalie. He's coming off probably his best and most consistent year over the last four years, which to me is a very good sign." Yep, from the manager who signed Cam Ward to a 5-year, $6.3 million/year deal back in 2010. Fleury is in the last year of his contract and could sign a new deal with the Pens as soon as July 1.|
|Patience||In the big picture, in the past month the Penguins have fired their GM (that's NHL GM of the year in 2013) and their winningest head coach in team history. Under Shero and Bylsma the team never missed the playoffs, finishing no worse than second in the division and winning it in three of the last four years. And they were fired for what? Poor playoff performances? Lack of direction and adjustments? It's a huge risk to take and a sign that ownership may be many things but patient is certainly not one of them. Rutherford and his new coach would be wise to take note.|