Uncertainty and Expectations Make Penguins Head Coaching Job Too Much For First Time Coaches
The Penguins head coaching position has been unofficially passed on by three prospective coaches. Many outside of the organization are wondering why this might be.
Well, after years of regular season success and playoff disappointment, the Penguins fired one of the most well respected General Managers in the league. They then botched the firing of then head coach Dan Bylsma by keeping him for three weeks after the club already made their decision on him being fired.
All of this has culminated in a rather turbulent and uncertain time period. The repercussions of this have finally been felt.
Coaches looking to make their first debut in the league are turning away from the Pittsburgh market to head elsewhere in hopes of retaining a position for a longer term. The relatively short time period of Rutherford’s GM contract, just three seasons, is playing a role in the coaches choices.
Add in the Penguins extremely high expectations of winning a Stanley Cup in the immediate season to follow and you have a position that will be very much a job for a coach of a more veteran pedigree.
The problem is, Pittsburgh does not really want a true veteran coach.
The Penguins would like a system alteration, not a complete overhaul. They want a young coach to come in and work with the stars while simultaneously educating the young talented prospects on defense. The best way to do so is to get a coach who is used to winning and one that is used to working in the development process of young players as well.
Young coaches are not always eager to jump into a cup contending role though. Dan Bylsma was really an outlier in his role as coach early on in his career. With no true NHL coaching experience, very little coaching experience at that, he went on to win the Stanley Cup in his first season.
Pittsburgh is not going to get any coach to just jump in out of the AHL and bring them to glory like that and that is partially why the Penguins have not landed a coach yet.
A head coach will need to be hired soon, with the draft and free agency looming around the bend. For Pittsburgh that means picking a third or fourth choice for the job, not something anyone saw coming after the firings took place.
At this point, the Penguins would be best served going with a face that they know well. A coaching hire of Ulf Samuelsson would bring a familiar face back to Pittsburgh. He could also recruit Rick Tochett to be an associate coach. The most likely hire though is the Penguins AHL head coach John Hynes. He is very well respected within the organization and is presumably ready to accept the offer.
Pittsburgh does not have the ideal coaching situation that they once thought, but the Penguins cannot afford to wait any longer in making their decision. The organization needs to make a hire and start the new regime right away or else they are doomed for more uncertainty in the following weeks.