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Fans struggle to understand Penguins' front-office moves

| Friday, May 16, 2014, 8:27 p.m.

John Scanlon didn't get much done after listening to Penguins CEO David Morehouse announce Friday that general manager Ray Shero was fired and coach Dan Bylsma, for now, would be retained.

“It was hard to concentrate at work,” said Scanlon, 42, of Emsworth. “I just kept thinking about it.”

The feeling was widespread, as many Penguins fans tried to make sense of what transpired at Consol Energy Center.

Instead of hearing Bylsma had been fired with Shero or even that he and Shero would be coming back, an unlikely third option was decided upon by co-owners Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux.

Assistant GM Jason Botterill will take over for Shero on an interim basis and will be a candidate for the full-time position.

The next GM will evaluate the coaching staff, putting Bylsma and assistants Tony Granato, Todd Reirden, Jacques Martin and Mike Bales in a state of limbo.

“It definitely was different,” said Travis Marzina, 20, of West Mifflin. “I thought it was going to be the opposite: Fire the coaches and keep Shero.”

Abby Hoover, 22, of Johnstown agreed, though she sympathized with Bylsma.

“I think it's rough on Dan because now he's waiting for a new GM to come in and see if he's going to stay or go,” Hoover said. “I definitely wasn't expecting just one to go. I thought it was going to be both.”

After a new general manager is hired, Mike Sill isn't optimistic Bylsma, who has the most regular-season and postseason wins in franchise history, will be retained.

“I have a feeling he's still going to go,” said Sill, 25, of Lawrenceville. “I think it's a nice gesture that they left it up to whoever is coming in as the next GM, but I still feel like he's going to get the ax. It's sad because he's one of the best coaches.”

Much discussion among fans focused on moves Shero did or didn't make.

Tom Cushing, 35, of Monroeville took issue with the Penguins' perceived lack of toughness. He's hoping no matter who replaces Shero, they bring in a top-six winger who is at least 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and willing to fight.

“Their top four wings, on a healthy day, those are guys off the waiver wire,” Cushing said. “It's not a big, strong pedigree for the guys you should be building around.”

As long as that guy is not Jarome Iginla, apparently. Bylsma's perceived misuse of the future Hall of Famer irritated Alaina Koval, 21, of the South Side. Which is why she didn't think it'd be a good idea for the next GM to retain Bylsma.

“I don't think it would be good for the team,” Koval said. “I can't see them keeping him.”

Though Bylsma is in an awkward position, Cushing said it was difficult for him to feel bad for someone making the kind of money Bylsma does.

Especially because Cushing thought Bylsma was going to be fired after the 2012-13 season.

“I can't worry about the fairness for someone who has around $4 million coming over the next two years,” Cushing said. “A lot of people thought he would be gone last year, and he got three years and $6 million for failure.”

Staff writer Chris Adamski contributed. Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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