New Pittsburgh general manager Jim Rutherford suggested that the Penguins ownership wants a “complete change of direction,” but they aren’t going to accomplish that by rebuilding, or even necessarily making major moves from a roster perspective.
As an extension of that, Rutherford doesn’t anticipate the Penguins having an exciting free-agent period due to their current salary cap situation. Instead, the biggest changes will come from the coaching staff and front office.
The first step in that was firing bench boss Dan Bylsma. Rutherford wants to replace him with a guy that can make adjustments to the team over the course of the season and during playoff series to counter their opponents.
“I don’t think (the Penguins) could make the proper adjustments against certain teams,” Rutherford said.
He also wants to bring analytics into the organization, which is an area he feels Pittsburgh has been lagging behind in. Rutherford doesn’t see analytics as some sort of holy grail of hockey information, but he believes that they’re another tool that the Penguins should have in their arsenal.
For the most part though, it sounds like Rutherford’s purpose will be to act as a bridge to the Penguins’ future. While he hopes to win a championship while he’s here, the 65-year-old only plans to stay around for only two or three years. He thinks the Penguins have potential general manager candidates within the organization and it looks like he’s already thinking about a succession plan.
With that in mind, the Penguins also announced that Jason Botterill will serve as the team’s associate general manager while Bill Guerin and Tom Fitzgerald have been selected as assistant general managers.