The word coming from Consol Energy Center is that there may be white puffs of smoke soon to indicate a new head coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It was reported by Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review that Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has indicated that a conclusion to the search is coming soon and that a hiring could be done in the next few days.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Thursday night that Texas Stars coach Willie Desjardins is the front-runner. Shelly Anderson of the Post-Gazette said Desjardins had a phone interview Thursday morning and was expected to have a face-to-face interview later in Pittsburgh.
The Climax, Saskatchewan native guided Texas to the best regular-season record in the American Hockey League (48-18-10, 106 points) and won the Calder Cup in a five-game series against the St. John’s IceCaps. He also won two championships with Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League.
Desjardins, 57, has become a popular choice in NHL management circles as he has also been reported to be a candidate for the head coaching job with the Vancouver Canucks.
One of Rutherford’s candidates is out of the running as the Carolina Hurricanes hired former Detroit Red Wings assistant, Bill Peters to be their new head coach on Thursday.
Others who reportedly interviewed with the Black and Gold are John Hynes, coach of their American Hockey League affiliate; former Pens defenseman and New York Rangers assistant coach, Ulf Samuelsson; Red Wings assistant Tom Renney; and former NHL coaches Marc Crawford and Ron Wilson.
Finally, former NHL coach and general manager Doug MacLean told FAN 590 in Toronto on Thursday that he interviewed for the position, but said he was not a finalist.