Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 06/25/14 at 06:00 AM ET
Does this count as interviewing a "renegade coach?" The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi reports that Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has something of a fall-back plan:
“My concentration right now is on a guy that would have been on my original list, but I was told he had a commitment,” Rutherford said Tuesday.
Rutherford would not identify his candidate, but team and league sources told the Tribune-Review that Mike Johnston has interviewed with Rutherford. Johnston is the general manager and coach for Portland of the Western Hockey League, where he worked with Penguins top prospect Derrick Pouliot.
His Portland clubs qualified for the WHL playoffs in three of his four full seasons, but he also was suspended for most of the 2012-13 season after a league investigation found Portland violated rules by providing benefits to players and their families.
Among Portland's team penalties were a $200,000 fine and forfeiture of first-round selections in the bantam drafts from 2014-17. Portland ownership and Johnston disputed the severity of the punishment, but Johnston also accepted it.
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