The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they hired Todd Reirden as their assistant coach. Reirden was the head coach of the Penguins’ AHL team in Wilkes Barrie/Scranton before GM Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma decided to give him a promotion.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach Todd Reirden, who spent the previous year and a half coaching the Baby Penguins following Bylsma’s promotion to Pittsburgh on Feb. 15, 2009, was hired by Bylsma and general manager Ray Shero on Saturday to fill the void that opened earlier this summer when Mike Yeo left to become the head coach of the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League.
“We interviewed between 10 and 15 candidates and conducted an extensive search, and the most qualified coach was in our organization the whole time,” Bylsma said. “Todd and I have developed a strong working relationship, which started when we played college hockey together at Bowling Green and continued in our time together in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He’s a valuable asset to our coaching staff.”
For Reirden, this promotion marks his first National Hockey League coaching assignment. The 38-year-old Deerfield, Illinois native began his coaching career as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Bowling Green, in 2007-08, before spending the past two seasons in WBS, where posted a head coaching record of 55-43-8 in 106 games.
One reason the Penguins promoted Reirden was to help manage their young defensive group. He played five seasons at the NHL level with high-end guys like Chris Pronger but – most importantly – worked with many of the young D-guys in training camp and at the AHL level.
Of the Penguins’ projected top-five defenseman, Reirden has worked with Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang in Pittsburgh, while Alex Goligoski was Reirden’s top defenseman in WBS in ’08-09. Reirden is also familiar with newcomer Zbynek Michalek after the two spent the ’04-05 lockout season playing together with Houston in the AHL.
“The only defenseman among those who will be competing for roster spots that I haven’t been around is Paul Martin, but I’ve seen him play at a high level for a while. He makes our group that much better and makes it a core that I can’t wait to get to work with.”
Reirden definitely held the familiarity advantage over other candidates. Who knows how much of a difference that will actually make, but at least Penguins fans won’t be able to blame everything on former assistant coach Mike Yeo anymore.