Mike Johnston Fired by Penguins: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2015

Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Johnston stands behind his bench during an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues in Pittsburgh Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

After just 110 games at the helm, Mike Johnston was relieved of his duties as Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Saturday.

The team announced that assistant coach Gary Agnew was also fired, while Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan will be promoted from the AHL to serve as Pittsburgh's interim head coach.

The Penguins were ousted in the first round of the playoffs last season, and they are off to a disappointing 15-10-3 start in 2015-16 despite boasting elite forwards in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

General manager Jim Rutherford explained his rationale, per the team's website: "I felt it was time for a coaching change because our team has underachieved. Our expectations are much higher with this group of players."

Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun added why he believed it was only a matter of time before the Penguins fired Johnston:

steve simmons @simmonssteve

Every coach firing is inevitable. The firing of Mike Johnston was more than even that. Team, with weak D, hasn't looked right all year long.

The Penguins hired Johnston prior to the 2014-15 season after firing Dan Bylsma, the Buffalo Sabres' current head coach.

Although Bylsma led the Pens to a Stanley Cup victory in 2009, the coaching change was made since more was expected out of a team with so much talent. But things didn't improve under Johnston.

Pittsburgh is looking for a jump-start under Sullivan, and current Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella believes his former assistant has what it takes to excel at the NHL level, per Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Seth Rorabaugh @SethRorabaugh

Asked John Tortorella about Mike Sullivan back in November: https://t.co/EE5SVp0IyQ https://t.co/TquA1pTaw3

Sullivan went 70-56-15-23 in two seasons as the Boston Bruins head coach in 2003-04 and 2005-06. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is currently 18-5 under his watch.

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