TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Based on glowing recommendation, Pens hire Agnew as assistant

AP - Columbus Blue Jackets interim head coach Gary Agnew shouts instructions to his team during the first period against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006, in Columbus, Ohio. The Penguins hired Agnew as an assistant coach on Thursday, July 10, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Columbus Blue Jackets interim head coach Gary Agnew shouts instructions to his team during the first period against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006, in Columbus, Ohio. The Penguins hired Agnew as an assistant coach on Thursday, July 10, 2014.
NHLI via Getty Images - St. Louis Blues assistant Gary Agnew talks with players before a power play against the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 8, 2014, at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>NHLI via Getty Images</em></div>St. Louis Blues assistant Gary Agnew talks with players before a power play against the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 8, 2014, at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Penguins/NHL Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

The ledger

Agnew's career head coaching record:

London (OHL): 139-107-18 (1990-94)

Kingston (OHL): 94-85-19 (1994-97)

London (OHL): 96-87-19 (1997-2000)

Syracuse (AHL): 220-177-83 (2000-06)

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Josh Yohe
Thursday, July 10, 2014, 10:21 a.m.
 

Penguins coach Mike Johnston, eager to find the final member of his staff, gave St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock a call.

Hitchcock made a case for Gary Agnew that Johnston couldn't refuse.

Agnew, who was an assistant under Hitchcock in St. Louis and Columbus, will join Rick Tocchet and goaltender coach Mike Bales on Johnston's staff.

“Hitchcock had some really glowing things to say,” Johnston said. “He thinks very, very highly of him, as do we.”

St. Louis fired a portion of its staff, including Agnew, after the Blues, among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Agnew, who has an extensive background of coaching in the Ontario Hockey League and American Hockey League, knew he wanted his next job to be at the NHL level.

“I didn't really ask why when I was fired,” said Agnew, who considers himself a player's coach. “The idea, moving forward, was to stay in the NHL.”

Agnew will be the final member of the Penguins coaching staff, Johnston said. He also said Jacques Martin, who was on the staff last season, will be involved in some capacity, though a clear role hasn't been identified.

Agnew has been the coach of the London Knights and Kingston Frontenacs in the OHL and was the longtime coach of the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.

“This is something Rick Tocchet and I talked about,” Johnston said. “We loved being able to bring in a guy who had so much head coaching experience at those levels.”

Travis Green, a former assistant of Johnston's in Portland, originally was the front-runner for the job but decided to remain the coach at Utica. The Penguins then developed a large number of candidates. Agnew stuck out, and Hitchcock's reference made him the logical choice, Johnston said.

Hitchcock has played a profound role in Agnew's career.

“When you work with a guy like Ken Hitchcock,” Agnew said, “you have a chance to see the way he sees the game.”

Hitchcock's teams are known for their defensive work and physical play, two areas that haven't always been the Penguins' greatest strength. Agnew plans to instill some of those values.

“In St. Louis, it was all about the details of defense, checking to score,” he said. “That means, if you don't have the puck, you better get it back. It's a basic philosophy, and it holds true. ... Teams that play 200 feet win Stanley Cups.”

Johnston said specific duties — who will handle the power play, penalty killing unit, and defensemen, among other duties — will be sorted out next week.

“Doesn't matter to me,” Agnew said. “I was a junior coach, and when you're a junior coach, you pretty much coach every aspect.”

Johnston, who said he worked primarily with defensemen while coaching in Portland, might handle the bulk of the work with his team' s blue line.

No matter which roles are decided upon, Johnston thinks he selected an ideal assistant.

“Just a good hockey coach,” he said. “We're happy to have him.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Penguins

  1. Penguins trade Sutter to Canucks, sign free agent center Fehr
  2. Sutter: Staal effect felt on 3rd line
  3. New Pens winger Fehr ready for defense-first role
  4. Penguins to appear on national TV 18 times in 2015-16
  5. Penguins bring in analytics expert from Carnegie Mellon
  6. Pens assistant GM Fitzgerald leaves for Devils
  7. ‘Warning track’ makes Pittsburgh debut at Southpointe’s Iceoplex
  8. At Carnegie Mellon University, hockey analytics enjoys rebirth
  9. Starkey: Rutherford hits jackpot with Kessel