Pens promote Guerin, Recchi, Karmanos in wake of Botterill departure

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After Jason Botterill left the organization to become the general manager in Buffalo, Pens GM Jim Rutherford said he wouldn’t rush to hire a replacement, instead waiting to see if his current staff could handle the workload.

Looks like it can.

On Thursday, the Pens announced a trio of in-house promotions. Bill Guerin, who was serving as assistant GM, took over Botterill’s old gig as the GM of AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Jason Karmanos, the VP of hockey ops, was elevated to assistant GM while Mark Recchi, a player development coach, will now serve as the director of player development.

Looking down the road, today’s news seemingly puts Guerin in line to become Rutherford’s heir apparent.

Rutherford’s under contract through 2019, turned 68 in February, and is one of the oldest GMs in the league. Botterill looked like his natural successor, to the point where some thought he could’ve gotten the job three years ago, when the Penguins fired Ray Shero.

Pittsburgh had been down that road before, too. Another promising young executive — Tom Fitzgerald — spent six years as the Pens’ AGM, and actually interviewed for the head job after Shero was let go. In 2015, he left the organization to reunite with Shero in New Jersey.

So now the focus turns to Guerin, who seems the most logical replacement candidate. He has worn two different executive hats for Pittsburgh — as both a development coach and AGM — and is clearly well-regarded. USA Hockey tabbed him and Rangers AGM Chris Drury to run this year’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.

Just don’t expect Guerin to be promoted anytime soon.

“I don’t think about [how long I’ll be here],” Rutherford said last month, per Pens Inside Scoop. “So I guess I’ll be here for a while longer, whatever that means.”