PITTSBURGH — After failing to make the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins are making some big changes.
The Penguins fired President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke, General Manager Ron Hextall and Assistant General Manager Chris Pryor in a sweeping annoucement on Friday.
The dismissales come in light of the Penguins missing the playoffs for the first time in 17 years, ending the longest-active playoff streak among teams in North American professional sports.
The streak included three Stanley Cup Championships (2009, '16, '17), four Stanley Cup Final appearances and five trips to the Eastern Conference Final.
It's also only the second time since Sidney Crosby made his NHL debut in 2005-06 that the Penguins did not qualify for the postseason.
The search for new hockey operations leadership will begin immediately, and Hunter Hodies of Locked on Penguins believes the club will be looking for proactive, forward thinkers.
"I believe they're leaning towards someione more of the mind of analytics," Hodies said. "The Penguins are going to be building an analytics department over the next several months, and ownership wasn'y happy about some of the roster decisions around Sidney Crosby this past season."
Hextall certainly underwhwelmed at the trade deadline, acquiring Mikael Granlund, Nick Bonino, and Dmitry Kulikov in trades.
The Penguins, meanwhile, still have Crosby, Evgeni Malking, and Kris Letang signed for the next several seasons, and whoever comes in will have an opportunity to help get them another Stanley Cup before the Big Three is no more.
Hodies lists Carolina Hurricanes assistant GM Eric Tulsky, Buffalo Sabres VP of Hockey Strategy and Research Sam Ventura, former Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis, and Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas as top candidates for the job in Pittsburgh.