“You can’t fire the players, so fire the coach.”
After guiding the Pittsburgh Penguins to an underachieving 15-10-3 start, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced this morning that they have fired Head Coach Mike Johnston and replaced him with Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. Assistant Coach Gary Agnew was also let go as part of the process as well.
Sullivan has guided the WBS Penguins to an American Hockey League best 18-5 start.
When the hire of Sullivan was announced, you had the feeling that it was only a matter of time before he would pilot an NHL bench again. You figure that if Pittsburgh did falter, Sullivan would be waiting in the wings to replace him. The crescendo had built in recent weeks and finally the writing was on the wall when GM Jim Rutherford went to the Pittsburgh media to openly criticize and question some of the decisions made by the on ice management of a team that has superstars like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury.
Coal Street announced in the wake of the news that Jay Leach will serve as interim head coach of the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins:
Seth’s reaction here, with video from Jonathan Bombulie in Pittsburgh embedded with the first interview with the new Pittsburgh Penguins head coach.
If you are worried that Wilkes-Barre will never win another game again, stop it. Scott Wilson won’t forget to score goals, Tom Kostopoulos won’t forget to lead, Steve Oleksy won’t forget how to play defense and Matt Murray won’t forget how to stop a wrist shot from the slot. The Penguins will be fine. They always are.
If management doesn’t think that Leach is capable to guide Wilkes-Barre, there will be a bevy of excellent coaches lining up or tripping over themselves to get the gig behind the bench at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza whenever there is a hockey game being played.
My best to Mike Sullivan with the parent club and best of luck to Jay Leach in the new interim position.
The Gameday setup against Albany hits the blog at 3 p.m. this afternoon.