Getting the axe: Penguins fire head coach Mike Johnston

Associated Press
39 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins have had enough.

On Saturday morning, they announced the firing of head coach Mike Johnston and assistant coach Gary Agnew.

The Penguins have named Wilkes-Barre Scranton head coach Mike Sullivan as Johnston’s replacement.

Johnston’s tenure in Pittsburgh was underwhelming at best. The team finished last season with a 43-27-12 record, but they were knocked by the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs.

The Penguins added winger Phil Kessel from Toronto during the off-season and many expected them to be one of the elite offensive teams in the NHL and that simply hasn’t happened.

Only Toronto, Philadelphia and Anaheim have scored less than Pittsburgh in ’15-16.

The Penguins are also on the outside looking in when it comes to the Eastern Conference playoff picture. They’re currently tied with Boston for the final Wild Card spot, but the Bruins have a game in hand.

Sullivan was in his first season as the head coach of the Penguins’ AHL affiliate. He’s led the team to an impressive 18-5-0 record so far this season.

He has plenty of NHL experience as a player and as a coach.

Sullivan played in over 700 games for the Sharks, Flames, Bruins, Coyotes between 1991 and 2002.

He was head coach of the Boston Bruins from 2003 to 2006 (two seasons) and had an overall record of 70-56-15.

The 47-year-old also spent time as an assistant with Bruins, Rangers, Lightning and Canucks.

“Mike Sullivan has been a head coach and an assistant coach in the NHL and we’ve been very fortunate to have him with our AHL club this season,” Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said in a release. “He’s done an outstanding job in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and he’s ready to step in.”

Rutherford did also put some of the blame on himself: