Pens not interested in Babcock’s services

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You can cross the Pittsburgh Penguins off the list of teams interested in Mike Babcock’s coaching services.

There was some thought that with Babcock’s ties to a number of Penguins, including Sidney Crosby; through his Olympic coaching experience that Pittsburgh could be a fit.

Penguins CEO David Moorehouse said last month that he has “never given any consideration” to replacing head coach Mike Johnston or GM Jim Rutherford.

Today Rutherford echoed that sentiment.

“We are committed to our present coaching staff,” Rutherford said.

Buffalo, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Edmonton are amongst the teams reportedly interested in Babcock.

Pens CEO says Johnston, Rutherford won’t be fired

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Despite nearly missing the playoffs and then bowing out in five games to the New York Rangers, Mike Johnston and Jim Rutherford’s jobs are safe.

According to Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pens’ executive David Morehouse has “never given any consideration” replacing Johnston or Rutherford.

Molinari reports the Penguins brass believes the season was lost due to injuries. He adds that if the Rangers had been without key defensemen as the Penguins were, it could’ve been a different series.

The Penguins also have no interest in abandoning the “two-center model” featuring Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Pittsburgh finished the regular season with their lowest point total (98) in an 82-game season since the 2005-06 season (58), which is the last time they failed to qualify for the playoffs.

Pens’ Rutherford to columnist: ‘You’re a (expletive) jerk’

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Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has had enough.

Following multiple columns from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Rob Rossi, Rutherford confronted the writer in an elevator on Monday night.

Here’s the backstory.

Nearly two weeks ago, Rossi wrote a column typically reserved for a team that failed to qualify for the playoffs. Rossi criticized Rutherford, who is in his first season at the helm with the Penguins, for a number of failures.

Then last Wednesday, on Day 1 of the playoffs, Rossi wrote a column in defense of head coach Mike Johnston, the gist being that it was Rutherford, not Johnston, to blame for the Penguins’ failures.

Following Monday night’s 2-1 loss to the Rangers, Rossi and Rutherford shared an elevator at the Consol Energy Center, which is when the Pens’ executive apparently decided to fire back at the reporter.

Here’s the exchange, according to Rossi:

After exiting a media elevator and while walking with other reporters to the Penguins’ dressing room, Rutherford addressed this columnist, a frequent critic since his hiring last June, in an obscenity-laced diatribe.

“Thanks for your support,” Rutherford said repeatedly.

“You’re a (expletive) jerk,” Rutherford said repeatedly.

Rutherford followed the jerk comment with a suggestion to “go sell ice cream now,” then a challenge to look him in the eye, which I did while explaining my role as Trib Total Media’s lead sports columnist.

My role is to provide opinion.

“Well, your opinion is (expletive),” Rutherford said.

Perhaps the Penguins can channel their GM’s aggression into a win Wednesday night as they look to even their series with the Rangers at two.

Report: Pens’ Maatta to get second opinion on shoulder

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Penguins’ defenseman Olli Maatta is hoping to avoid a second shoulder surgery.

According to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Maatta will get a second opinion on his shoulder this week.

The Penguins placed Maatta on injured reserve with shoulder soreness on Saturday.

He had surgery in May to repair a labrum tear and the latest injury is in the same shoulder.

Pens’ GM Jim Rutherford confirmed to Rossi that Maatta would have a second opinion.

It is unknown how long a second surgery would keep Maatta out of the Penguins lineup.

Maatta, who has a goal and nine points in 20 games this season, has not played since Dec. 6.

The 20-year-old missed time in November for surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his thyroid.

Report: Malone, Penguins ‘kicking tires’

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According to a report in the Pittsburgh Tribune, general manager Jim Rutherford has had discussions with the agent representing former Penguins’ forward Ryan Malone.

Malone, you might remember,  was bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning after being arrested for driving under the influence and cocaine possession in April.

The 34-year-old Pittsburgh native was originally a fourth round selection of the Penguins (115th overall in 1999) and spent three seasons with Pittsburgh losing to the Detroit Red Wings in the 2008 Stanley Cup final.

“I have talked to Pittsburgh about him throughout the summer,” Malone’s agent, Mike Liut told the paper. “They’re kicking tires. They’ve expressed some interest, but it’s just that. Which is fine. There isn’t anything where I can say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do.’ Hopefully I can next week.”

As Jason Mackey points out in his piece, the Penguins have already brought in Steve Downie and Daniel Carcillo is attending camp on a professional tryout so it’s hard to see where another project in Malone would fit in.

Malone has scored 20 or more goals six times in his career, but just once in the past four seasons.

“We don’t close the door on anything,” Rutherford said.

Mackey suggests the New York Rangers could also be a suitor for the free agent.

Related: Former Lightning forward Malone ‘shocked’ he had cocaine