The Pittsburgh Penguins front office will have a decidedly different look next season after the club fired general manager Ron Hextall, director of hockey operations Brian Burke and assistant GM Chris Pryor on Friday.
The shakeup came after the Penguins missed the playoffs for the first time in 17 years, ending the longest active postseason streak in major North American professional sports.
Fenway Sports Group owner John Henry and company chairman Tom Werner said in a joint statement that “the team will benefit from new hockey operations leadership.”
They added they “believe in our core group of players and the goal of contending for the Stanley Cup has not changed.”
Several members of the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will take over day-to-day operations as the search for a new general manager begins immediately.
Head coach Mike Sullivan, who signed an extension last fall that runs through the 2026-27 season, will also assist during the transition.
Hextall and Burke were hired in February 2021 after the resignation of former GM Jim Rutherford, who oversaw back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in 2016 and 2017.
The duo kept together a core that included stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, signing Malkin and Letang to team-friendly deals last summer.
However, most of the decisions to build around those veterans didn’t pan out. Other than the top two lines, the offense struggled while Letang and Marcus Pettersson were the only contributors on the defensive side. Injuries and inconsistent play from their goaltenders also played a role in the Penguins’ recent woes
—Field Level Media