Brian Burke and Ron Hextall out in Pittsburgh, multiple NHL coaches fired, and more: Around the League
Photo credit:© Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
Welcome back to Around the League — the column here at CanucksArmy where we deliver you news from around the National Hockey League, oftentimes through a Vancouver Canucks-tinted lens.
Well that didn’t take long.
Four teams in the NHL haven’t even finished their seasons yet, but those whose seasons came to a close last night wasted little time in making changes to their organization.
Burke and Hextall out in Pittsburgh
The biggest news of the day certainly is the news out of Pittsburgh that president Brian Burke and general manager Ron Hextall have both been relieved of their duties. Assistant GM Chris Pryor was also let go by the Penguins as well.
John Henry and Tom Werner of Fenway Sports Group issued the following statement:
“We are grateful to Brian, Ron, and Chris for their contributions to the organization over the past two seasons, but we feel that the team will benefit from new hockey operations leadership. While this season has been disappointing, we believe in our core group of players and the goal of contending for the Stanley Cup has not changed.”
During the transition period, the Penguins will rely on current director of hockey operations Alec Schall, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton GM Eric Heasley, and hockey operations analyst Andy Saucier. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan will also assist.
The only Canucks tie in here is that the Penguins were reportedly working hard to acquire JT Miller from the Canucks ahead of the deadline, but the Canucks’ reported asking price of two first round picks is believed to have pushed the Penguins away. The Penguins were clearing cap space in the leadup to the deadline, but their “big splash” was to acquire Mikael Granlund, who tallied just one goal and four assists through 21 games with the Penguins.
Pittsburgh’s 16-year playoff streak — the longest such streak of any team in the big four North American sports leagues — came to an end this season. Perhaps it wouldn’t have if the Penguins bucked up for a legit top 6 forward at the deadline.
Multiple NHL coaches let go
Unlike the Canucks, non-playoff teams around the league waited until after the conclusion of the season before letting go of their head coaches.
First, it was Dallas Eakins, the head coach of the last place Anaheim Ducks. Eakins was behind the Ducks’ bench for four losing seasons in a row. Eakins’ contract was up, and so the Ducks simply aren’t bringing him back on a new deal.
Later, the St. Louis Blues announced that they had relieved assistant coaches Craig MacTavish and Mike Van Ryn of their coaching duties. McTavish joined the Blues coaching staff at the beginning of the 2022-23 season and served as the lone assistant coach behind the bench. Following his 17-year NHL tenure that saw him hoist four Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers, he actually ended his career with the Blues in 1996-97. He served as an assistant coach with the New York Rangers for two seasons and was a head coach for the Oilers from 2000-2009. He was then Head Coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves for one season before rejoining the Oilers in a management role from 2012-2019.
In addition, Blues GM Doug Armstrong announced that assistant coach Steve Ott and goaltending coach David Alexander will remain on the team’s coaching staff. The same goes for video coach Darryl Seward and video coordinator Elliott Mondou.
Finally, the Washington Capitals announced that they have mutually parted ways with head coach Peter Laviolette.
“We are grateful for Peter’s leadership and dedication to our organization for the last three seasons,” said Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan in a statement. “Peter is a first-class individual who has represented our club with integrity and guided our team through many difficult circumstances in his tenure as our head coach. We wish him all the best moving forward.”
Laviolette was in his third season as the head coach of the Capitals, finishing with a record of 115-78-27 in the regular season with the team. He failed to win a playoff series during his tenure, losing to the Boston Bruins in 2021 and the Florida Panthers in 2022.
The Capitals were the fifth team that Laviolette has coached, previously spending time with the New York Islanders from 2001 to 2003, the Carolina Hurricanes from 2003 to 2008, the Philadelphia Flyers from 2009 to 2013, and the Nashville Predators from 2014 to 2020, winning a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006.
Laviolette has been an NHL head coach to begin every season since 2001.
Mat Barzal returning for New York Islanders in round one
Bo Horvat and the New York Islanders got some good news today.
After beating the odds and securing a wild card spot despite missing their best player since February 18th, the Isles will be getting that player back in time for game one of the club’s first round matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Coquitlam’s Mat Barzal will be in the lineup for game one. Head coach Lane Lambert confirmed the news on Friday, according to Newsday’s Andrew Gross.
Barzal has 38 points in 49 career playoff games and was a critical part of New York’s runs to the conference final in 2020 and 2021.
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