The Penguins waited for almost two weeks, but it proved worth it when they got their top choice in Kyle Dubas to lead a new look hockey operations department.
Dubas was introduced on Thursday as Pittsburgh’s new President of Hockey Operations. Unlike the last occupier of that position, there will be no doubts as to what the role and actions will be for that job title going forward.
Dubas lived up to his billing as an articulate and intellectual figure, putting on a strong showing in his first day with the Penguins to lay out his vision and focus for the future.
Like Dubas, it’s an ambitious ask. Dubas laid out a “two-pronged” approach where in the short run he wants to continue to make decisions that will make the team competitive while the core group continues to perform at a high level. In the long run Dubas will want to deliver a long-term organization that can be the class of the NHL.
It was a lofty plan that represents an exciting day for the future of the Penguins with a new decision maker at the helm.
Some other various thoughts and notes on the rest in bullet point form:
- John Henry, head of Fenway Sports Group, was in attendance. Tom Werner, the FSG chairman spoke at the presser, and Dave Beeston the FSG point person was on the stage. Huge showing for the ownership for the occasion and day.
- Dubas mentioned conversations with Mike Sullivan and Sidney Crosby about where the team was at and what they would need to improve. Dubas praised both and cited working with them as a major reason he wanted to come to Pittsburgh.
- Supporting the core players and starting to create the “next era” was listed as an intention moving forward.
- They will hire a general manager, though Dubas will serve as the interim GM through July in the early portion of the off-season. Dubas mentioned wanting to hire someone with skills that he might not have to help augment the front office.
- When asked if he thought the Pens were still a contender, Dubas said he was ready to bet on Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. “I do think it’s a group capable of winning a championship” and talked about in the next few weeks building a supporting cast around them.
- Dubas cited “long term building” several times for creating a new group of young players after the 87/71 era fades out.
- Wants to integrate all departments and see to it that the data and analytics can help player development, coaching and front office working without “silos” of different areas holding onto their own information or outlooks.
- Unsurprisingly, Dubas didn’t get into the weeds about specifics on how he will overhaul the roster in terms of players, instead speaking in high level ideas.
- When it came to Tristan Jarry, Dubas will evaluate him through help from goalie coach Andy Chiodo and others in the organization and then explore how he might fit in the future. Called it difficult to predict or project where it might go, but indicated it would be a priority for them to get to work in the next 48-72 hours about the methodology for how the Pens will move forward in goal.
- Dubas was reluctant to meet with the Pens so soon after getting fired by Toronto, but his wife pushed him towards taking the meetings with Pittsburgh since the family would have to move somewhere anyways. Became comfortable meeting people in the Pens’ organization and decided to “jump in with both feet.”
- Had a “brief” discussion with Sullivan about team construction. Praised the top-end of the forward group. Mentioned salary cap flexibility and space this summer and rounding out the lineup to have players who can get the game back to the top players on lower lines.
- Beeston called the managerial search a “massive success, because we’re sitting here with Kyle” and that the team is very happy with the way it ended up.
It’s not difficult to “win” the opening press conference, but the thoughtful and articulate Dubas looked the part. He was energized and clearly believes he can put something together in Pittsburgh, and looks excited to get to work and make it happen.
You can find the whole presser here if you missed it or want to hear the principles speak for themselves: