Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is in Philadelphia for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft at the end of this week, but the Black and Gold’s coaching rumor carousel continues to go around and around.
Both TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger and Josh Yohe of the Tribune Review are reporting that Mike Johnston, general manager and coach of the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League is now the leading contender for the Pen’s coaching gig.
According to oregonlive.com, Johnston was interviewed by the Vancouver Canucks before they offered their head coaching job to Willie Desjardins last week.
His Portland squads have qualified for the WHL playoffs in three of his four full seasons, and are known for winning with an up-tempo style of play. He has worked with Penguins’ top prospect Derrick Pouliot.
While Pittsburgh is the only team without a head coach now, it should be pointed out that Rutherford’s original timetable was that the Pens would begin the search on Monday, June 16th and have a coach in place by the time Free Agency begins on Tuesday, July 1st, which means the team did not anticipate having one prior to the Draft on Friday.