MORNING PENS BUZZ
— Was Pierre McGuire the Penguins preferred choice over Jim Rutherford? Information coming out sure makes it appear so.
League sources indicate McGuire was told by Penguins ownership Wednesday that the job was his and McGuire and COO Travis Williams were in deep negotiations before McGuire broke talks off late Thursday morning. The team then moved quickly and asked Rutherford to come to town on Thursday afternoon.
The main sticking point was indeed Pittsburgh’s unwillingness to offer McGuire a standard GM contract of five years. Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet first reported Friday before it was even known Rutherford only had a three year contract, that McGuire was offered a three year contract.
McGuire was willing to come on board in the same front office structure the Penguins have right now under Rutherford, but obviously wanted more job security which is understandable. I’m told McGuire does pretty well for himself and his contract with NBC is believed to have 6+ years left on it.
— Jim Rutherford got burned the last several seasons on a big money deal for goaltender Cam Ward ($6.3 million cap hit), casting a lot of doubts in league circles that he will have any interest in signing Marc Andre Fleury to a long-term extension this summer. At least the feeling is that won’t be his recommendation.
Fleury enters the last year of his deal, set to make $5.75 million with a $5 million cap hit. With Fleury not very well thought of around the league, the Penguins are in the position where the best move is to just let him play the season out and address his contract situation next summer, or look for an upgrade over a goaltender whose career post-season save percentage is .905. Fleury still has a lot of support in the organization, including ownership, but Pierre McGuire during meetings with the team, expressed a very strong desire to the Penguins that a goalie change was needed, and they wanted to hire him over Rutherford initially, so there’s that.
Rutherford appearing on 937 The Fan on Friday was complementary of Fleury but denied to say he was the long-term goalie when asked. “The one thing I’ll say about Fleury is this past season was the best season, the most consistent season he’s had over several seasons, probably over three or four seasons,” Rutherford said. “Other than a couple of goals in the Columbus series, I thought his playoff series performance was fine, his regular season was fine and from an ability point of view he’s a very, very good goalie.
“Going back a couple years, I think the mental part of the game was difficult for him, and certainly it seems that whatever he did in last offseason has strengthened his position, and I see him as a guy that’ll build off of last season and be as good or better next year.”
Don’t be surprised if Rutherford expresses some interest in Ottawa’s Craig Anderson who I’m hearing Rutherford likes.
— Former Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma will be working for the NHL Network for the rest of the Stanley Cup Final as a commentator.
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