Mike Johnston named coach of Penguins

 

The Sports Network

Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins have named Mike Johnston as their new head coach.

The club announced Johnston's hiring Wednesday, and new general manager Jim Rutherford is convinced that he's got the right coach in place.

"Mike comes to Pittsburgh with great experience at all levels of hockey," Rutherford said in a statement. "He has terrific knowledge of the game and proven leadership ability. His coaching style is going to be a good for the players we have here with the Penguins -- it's an up-tempo style, but it begins from deep in the defensive zone. We're very excited to have him."

Johnston, 57, had been the head coach and GM of the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks for the past six seasons. The club was coming off its fourth straight appearance in the WHL finals.

Although he has no prior head coaching experience at the NHL level, Johnston did serve as an associate coach for the Vancouver Canucks (1999-2006) and Los Angeles Kings (2006-08).

"To get to this level is something I've always aspired to," Johnston said.

Johnston replaces Dan Bylsma, who was fired earlier this month. Bylsma is the franchise-leader in coaching wins with 252 and guided the team to the 2009 Stanley Cup title.

Rick Tocchet was also named an assistant coach on Wednesday, while Tony Granato and Todd Reirden will not be part of Johnston's staff.

The Penguins retained Jacques Martin, though his role is unspecified, and goaltending coach Mike Bales.

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