Penguins ownership group explain next steps for franchise

They also touched on Mike Sullivan's future in Pittsburgh.



The Pittsburgh Penguins made a trio of major moves earlier today on the cusp of the franchise having missed the postseason for the first time since Sidney Crosby's rookie year of 2005-06. 

Maligned general manager Ron Hextall, assistant general manager Chris Pryor, and president of hockey operations Brian Burke were all let go this morning, signaling a dramatic turn in the direction of the team.

Earlier today, Fenway Sports Group Dave Beeston and Penguins director of business operations Kevin Acklin held a brief press conference in which they explained the next steps they'll be taking in looking to fill those recently vacated positions, while also touching on the future of head coach Mike Sullivan. 

“There’s no parameters or set format for what we’re going to hire. I think we’ve learned in all of our sports endeavors that these jobs are not one-person, two-person jobs,” said Beeston. “They are entire department-wide. And so we’re focused on building a hockey operations machine.”

“I think that the way we’ve thought about our hockey operations, generally, is we want to be forward and proactive,” Beeston said. “Ron, Brian, and Chris were great and served a great role. We are all disappointed with how the season ended, but we’re focused on the future and moving forward.”

How about the status of Sullivan, who helped guide the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017? The answer wasn't quite as clear as to his future with the team. 

“I think the answer to that is we think Mike Sullivan is one of the best coaches in the NHL. He was extended last season, and then once we bring in a new hockey operations leader, he or she will be responsible for evaluating the coaching staff,” said Beeston. “And we think Mike is terrific.”

In the meantime, the Penguins ownership group is hoping that franchise legend Mario Lemieux, who was the team's principal owner until 2021, will be more involved in the future. 

“I talked to Mario this morning after the news broke. He talked to ownership as well, to Tom directly. He was at a game a couple of weeks ago … So, to today’s point, he earned some time on the golf course when he sold most of his interests. But, you know, he still cares about the team. And obviously, we’d love to see more of him at the arena. And that’s something we’ll keep engaging with all the time."