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Penguins GM Rutherford 'real close' to choosing team's next coach

| Thursday, June 19, 2014, 2:18 p.m.
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford addresses the media during a news conference Friday, June 6, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said Thursday he is “real close” to choosing the team's next coach.

One of his candidates has landed with another NHL club, though.

“The process is coming to an end,” said Rutherford, who has made a decision on one of eight candidates to interview for the opening.

“I'm still checking a few points with the lead candidate, but a decision is coming real soon.”

Rutherford declined to provide specifics regarding candidates or his choice. An announcement could be made within days, provided details of a contract can be worked out.

Rutherford had said the length of the next coach's contract — specifically, if it would be longer than two years — would depend on the candidate.

Bill Peters, a former Detroit assistant who multiple team and league sources had said was among Rutherford's candidates, was announced as Carolina's coach Thursday afternoon.

The sources said Rutherford's candidates included former NHL coaches Ron Wilson and Marc Crawford; New York Rangers assistant Ulf Samuelsson; and Willie Desjardins, coach of Dallas' AHL affiliate. John Hynes, coach of the Penguins' AHL affiliate, is the only candidate Rutherford has confirmed publicly.

Rutherford said he had held in-person interviews with six of the eight candidates as of Thursday afternoon. Desjardins' Texas Stars won the AHL's Calder Cup on Tuesday night, leaving time only for a phone interview with the Penguins, Rutherford said.

Rutherford reiterated Thursday night that he had already completed candidate interviews.

John Stevens, a former Philadelphia coach and an assistant with Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles, had not been granted permission by the Kings to interview, the sources said.

Rick Tocchet, formerly a head coach with Tampa Bay, has interviewed for an assistant role with the Penguins, the sources said. Also, Rod Brind'Amour is a target for a role with the Penguins, the sources said.

Brind'Amour was the captain of Rutherford's 2006 Cup team with Carolina. He is the Hurricanes' assistant coach/player development.

Bill Guerin, the Penguins' previous player development coach, is now an assistant general manager with the team.

Rutherford fired former coach Dan Bylsma on June 6. He said then a replacement would be hired no later than July 1.

Interviews began Monday, and Rutherford determined his top choice between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the sources said.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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