The Pittsburgh Penguins announced on Wednesday afternoon that they have hired 57 year-old Western Hockey League coach Mike Johnston as their new head coach, and have brought in former Penguins player and former Tampa Bay head coach Rick Tocchet to serve as an assistant coach.
Johnston replaces Dan Bylsma, who set a team record with 252 coaching victories, but whose teams were 4-5 in playoff series after Bylsma’s 2009 Pittsburgh team won the Stanley Cup championship. He spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings and the Vancouver Canucks before coaching the WHL Portland Winterhawks for six seasons.
Johnston’s 2013-2014 Portland (Ore.) team won the WHL’s U.S. Division with a 54-13-2-3 record before losing in seven games to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Ed Chynoweth Cup finals. At Portland, the Dartmouth, Nova Scotia native also served as team general manager.
The Penguins’ website touted the fact that Johnston served as an assistant coach for Team Canada in the 1998 Winter Olympics games, for six different Canadian national teams in the World Hockey Championships and for two others in the World Junior Hockey Championships. Seven of those teams medaled, and two won gold medals.
Tocchet spent 18 years as an NHL player, including parts of three seasons between 1992 and 1994 with the Penguins. He was head coach for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning from 2008 through 2010. He also served as an assistant coach at Tampa Bay, Colorado and Phoenix.