Going on almost four weeks after the firings of Ron Hextall and Brian Burke, there hasn’t been a ton of information about the Penguins’ quest to replace their key front office members getting out. That’s starting to change, last week Pierre LeBrun talked about the process in the early stages of reaching out and identifying a “first wave” of candidates.
My understanding of the Penguins GM search process: they have started to reach out/ask permission on candidates. They plan on speaking to 10-12 candidates via Zoom in the first wave. Then cut it down to a short list of candidates in 2nd wave which will be in-person interviews. https://t.co/CZtTk1rnWx— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 5, 2023
The Athletic’s Rob Rossi also mentioned in his recent article that one candidate who apparently won’t be resolved is Chicago associate GM Jeff Greenberg, who reportedly was denied the opportunity from the Blackhawks to speak with Pittsburgh. (Bummer, since Greenberg would have been among the PensBurgh favorites to consider with his background and pedigree that has a lot of FSG and Pittsburgh convergences).
Frank Seravalli put some info out there on Wednesday’s Daily Faceoff Live:
Tyler Yaremchuk: Let’s head over to Pittsburgh. There’s some talk that maybe they will structure this front office in a non-traditional way, and there has been some debate over what they could do. What are you hearing on the Penguins?
Frank Seravalli: I’m told that the Penguins will go with the same exact structure they had previously. That was the debate: do you just go with one overarching person after having both Brian Burke and Ron Hextall as president of hockey ops and general manager? It appears that they’re going to stick with that formula moving forward.
The Penguins will hire a president and a general manager; they’re going to be two separate positions. On top of that, I believe the Penguins, who have been very quiet throughout this process, are nearing the end of their first round of interviews.
I’m going to throw a list of some of the names that have been in the mix. Some of these candidates are for GM, others are for president of hockey operations, so they are speaking to quite a long list of people. Those include: Marc Bergevin, former GM of the Montreal Canadiens, Jason Botterill, current assistant GM for the Seattle Kraken, John Chayka who is also in the Flyers’ search, Mathieu Darche from the Tampa Bay Lightning, and one other name in the mix is Ryan Martin, assistant GM for the New York Rangers.
The waiting game and timing will be interesting, the Pens are clearly in no hurry to install someone with haste, but also will need to give their front office time to prepare plans for the extremely important upcoming events like the NHL draft and free agency.
Up in Canada, Elliotte Friedman on his podcast today addressed the elephant in the room for the pipe dream about current Toronto GM Kyle Dubas:
Friedman on 32 Thoughts today: We're talking about the Penguins here and the belief that they're willing to wait a little bit. Someone said to me on Tuesday that they're not willing to wait THAT long.— Hunter (@HunterHodies) May 10, 2023
(This was in relation to the Leafs potentially making changes).
And another fun one from Friedman, via Hunter:
Another cool nugget from Friedman on 32 Thoughts: The Rangers' dream is for Mike Sullivan to become available. Problem is, he just got an extension and FSG sided with him over a battle with Hextall about personnel and things like that.— Hunter (@HunterHodies) May 10, 2023
Outwardly there hasn’t been a ton going on, but with all these insiders feeding out little nuggets, a central story can be developed. It doesn’t appear the Pens are on the verge of naming their new front office in the coming hours or next few days, however the process of talking with candidates is underway, and as expected it will likely be a very long list of folks with tons of various backgrounds in and around the NHL and pro sports in general.
It’s still seven weeks to the draft and a handful more days until free agency, so the team is still dealing with time in their favor to sort through what is available and choose which people they want to lead them in the upcoming years. That’s not terribly surprising or unexpected at this point in the process, but it does seem notable that more and more people across the hockey world are starting to pepper out there various thoughts and updates about the Penguins these days, after the last few weeks were barren hearing much at all about the team.