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Mike Johnston and Gary Agnew fired

It's always fun in Pittsburgh, right?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins shocked everyone this morning when they dropped this ball.

Mike Sullivan has been named head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was announced today by General Manager Jim Rutherford.

Sullivan replaces Mike Johnston, who was relieved of his duties earlier today.

Assistant coach Gary Agnew also was relieved of his duties.

Sullivan, 47, was in his first season as head coach of the Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, leading his team to an 18-5 record and first place in the Atlantic Division.

The Marshfield, MA native was head coach of the Boston Bruins from 2003-06 and was an NHL assistant coach for eight seasons with the Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. He spent the 2014-15 season as player development coach for the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Sullivan will be joined on the bench by assistant coaches Rick Tocchet and Jacques Martin when he makes his Pittsburgh debut Monday night against the Washington Capitals at CONSOL Energy Center.

Tocchet has been a Penguins’ assistant coach since the start of the 2014-15 season. Martin began the current season in a newly-created role of special assistant to the head coach, serving as an "eye in the sky" observer from the press box.

"I felt it was time for a coaching change because our team has underachieved," Rutherford said. "Our expectations are much higher with this group of players.

"Mike Sullivan has been a head coach and an assistant coach in the NHL and we’ve been very fortunate to have him with our AHL club this season. He’s done an outstanding job in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and he’s ready to step in."

It's your ship now, Mike Sullivan. Please turn the Penguins into what we know they are capable of, offensively.


Jim Rutherford met with the media to give his takes on the firings, a selection of quotes are as follows:

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford: "I want to thank Mike Johnston for his contribution to this team. He is a very smart and good hockey guy."

"We need to have more will to win. I look at this snapshot over the last 27 games and I feel that we've underachieved."

"I do expect more production out of some guys."

"I see Mike Sullivan as a guy that is a really demanding, take-control guy. He reminds me a lot of Peter Laviolette."

"We've been making some progress in how the team is playing, but it's not up to our expectations."

"We don't have a huge issue to fix... I'd like to add a player or two. We're not broken - just things we need to do better."

"It's not easy to score goals in this league. Our play can certainly be better. Part of that is improving our power play."

Jason Botteril is expecting to meet with the media in Wilkes-Barre this evening at 6:00 PM, where we can presume that a new AHL coach will be named.