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Rossi: Pens likely to keep nudging Brisson

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Technically, the Penguins’ general manager search started Friday, but it still has not intensified.

NHL super agent Pat Brisson pulled his name from consideration on Monday, telling the Tribune-Review and many other outlets he wishes to stay in his current role as representative to many stars such as Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews.

Still, the Penguins are not done pursuing Brisson – and the interest of ownership is said to be real, specifically from Ron Burkle.

The Penguins believe Brisson is interested in a role with a team, but is hesitant to leave Southern California and a lucrative agent business. Those close to him have said Brisson does not want the Penguins’ GM job, but is open to working for the Penguins.

Keep in mind, too, that Brisson was somebody ownership thought worth a look during the search that landed Shero eight years ago.

Expect the Penguins to keep trying to sell Brisson on a role within the organization. If not as the next general manager then perhaps as Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, which would find him working with a GM that focuses more on scouting and the salary cap – and likely a coach with significant say in player personnel matters.

Also, it is said Brisson might covet being President of the Penguins. Currently, CEO David Morehouse is holding that role. However, only a few years ago, there was a management structure that featured Ken Sawyer as CEO, Morehouse as president and Ray Shero as GM.

The Penguins are said to be open to a non-traditional management structure depending on the candidates for GM. Only Morehouse, though, will report directly to ownership.

 

>> The Penguins’ last GM search did involve Burkle and majority co-owner Mario Lemieux, but it was led by Sawyer, who had 14 years experience as the NHL’s chief financial officer. It’s the same dynamic this time around, only Sawyer’s role is being filled by Morehouse.

There really is no rush, because ownership is confident that interim GM Jason Botterill can steer the organization right up to and through the NHL Entry Draft if necessary. Also, it is believed Botterill will remain with the organization in some capacity – or at least it will be his choice – even if he does not land the full-time gig. He is a candidate, Morehouse said.

 

>> The Penguins are one of three teams looking for GMs. The others are Vancouver and Washington.

As of Monday, Boston assistant general managers Jim Benning and Don Sweeney were being mentioned in conversations around the league as candidates expected to get serious consideration for the vacancies. Benning is believed by some to be the favorite with Vancouver.

Sweeney is on Washington’s radar, per Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington: http://www.csnwashington.com/hockey-washington-capitals/talk/plenty-questions-surround-caps-gm-search

Within the hockey community, there seems to be no feel for where the Penguins want to go with the next general manager. Mostly, there remains lingering shock that Shero was fired.

Will DePaoli of Inside Pittsburgh Sports first reported Brisson as a possibility last week, and now reports Rick Dudley on the Penguins’ radar: http://insidepittsburghsports.com/story/rick-dudley-among-shortlist-of-potential-gm-candidates-emerging-on-penguins-radar/65226/

A name gaining traction as a dark-horse candidate to land a GM opening is New York Rangers assistant GM Jeff Gorton. Also, as the Trib reported on Friday, Tampa Bay assistant GM Julien BriseBois intrigues the Penguins.

Ownership is said to favor emphasizing drafting and development when it comes to the next GM.

 

>> Nobody still with the Penguins, from coaching staff to hockey operations employees, is sure how the franchise’s hockey side is expected to run efficiently right now. Nobody is permitted to speak (on the record) with the media, though. There is a lot of frustration among remaining employees – mostly because everybody is being kept in the dark. Words used to describe the current situation are strange and uncomfortable.

 

>> Head coach Dan Bylsma is said to have expressed his displeasure to ownership about the situation that finds him employed but unlikely to be retained. Ownership is said to have understood his concern, but remained unwilling to let him out of his contract.

Bylsma wants to coach somewhere next season. He is said not to be interested in another job with within the organization. His salary, over $2 million, would seemingly make him overpaid for anything other than head coach or team executive.

 

Be EXCELLENT to each other,

Rossi

 

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Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

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