Hockey Betting News – Mike Johnston named head coach of Penguins

Updated: July 22, 2014
hockey betting

Mike Johnston has been named head coach of Pittsburgh Penguins

By Ian Palmer

In hockey betting news, the Pittsburgh Penguins finally named a new head coach, announcing that Mike Johnston has been hired to fill the vacancy. The Penguins new general manager Jim Rutherford gave former coach Dan Bylsma his walking papers three weeks ago, but needed to fill the position before the NHL Draft on June 27. The 57-year-old Johnston formerly coached the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL).

Johnston does have some coaching experience at the NHL level as he was an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks between 1999 and 2006 and with the Los Angeles Kings between 2006 and 2008. He has been the general manager and coach of Portland for the last six seasons. Johnston said all assistant coaches hope to one day become a head coach in the NHL and he’s thrilled that this dream has now come true. He added that he coached at a small Canadian college for four years and sent letters to several NHL clubs claiming he was ready to coach in the big leagues, but little did he know how wrong he was at the time.

Since then the native of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, has worked as an assistant coach for Canada at the Winter Olympics in 1998 as well as at the IIHF World Championship for Canada six times and also twice for his homeland at the World Junior Championships. He said his first experience dealing with NHL stars came at the 1998 Olympics since it was the first year pro players were allowed to compete in the event. Johnston’s ultimate goal is to bring the Stanley Cup back to Pittsburgh and he believes the best way to achieve it is to have his team play a puck-possession game especially with star centers Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby in the lineup.

Johnston was successful playing that style of hockey in Portland as he coached the team to a club-record 48-point improvement in his first full season there in 2009/10. His Winterhawks team also reached the final of the WHL the last four years and made it to the 2012/13 Memorial Cup Final where they were beaten by the Halifax Mooseheads. Along with hiring Johnston, the Penguins announced that former Tampa Bay Lightning coach and Penguins forward Rick Tocchet has joined the squad as an assistant coach.

The club also fired former assistant coaches Todd Reirden and Tony Granato, but said Jacques Martin, goaltending coach Mike Bales and video technician Andy Saucier will all remain with the Penguins. However, Johnston will be adding one more assistant coach to his current staff. GM Rutherford said Johnston was the best candidate for the job due to the style of hockey he prefers to play. However, reports out of Pittsburgh indicated that Rutherford’s first choice for the position was Eric Desjardins, who just singed as head coach with the Vancouver Canucks.