PITTSBURGH (WBOY) – The Pittsburgh Penguins fired three members of its front office on Friday after the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 17 years.
According to a release from the team, President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke, General Manager Ron Hextall and Assistant General Manager Chris Pryor have all been relieved of their duties from the hockey team.
Fenway Sports Group, the owning organization of the Penguins, released the following statement on Friday morning regarding the change in management:
“We are grateful to Brian, Ron, and Chris for their contributions to the organization over the past two seasons, but we feel that the team will benefit from new hockey operations leadership. While this season has been disappointing, we believe in our core group of players and the goal of contending for the Stanley Cup has not changed.”John Henry and Tom Werner, Fenway Sports Group
Burke and Hextall were named to their titles on Feb. 9, 2021 following the resignation of former Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who left for “personal reasons”. Pryor was promoted just 10 months ago to the assistant General Manager position.
The move comes after the Penguins failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since the 2005-2006 season when captain Sidney Crosby was a rookie in the National Hockey League (NHL) and alternative captains Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang weren’t playing in the NHL yet.
The 16-year playoff streak was the longest in North American sports history, including teams from the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB.
The move also follows two losses to statistically some of the NHL’s worst teams, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Columbus Blue Jackets. A win on Tuesday against the Blackhawks would have secured a berth in the playoffs for the Penguins.
Friday’s release from the team said that the search for new hockey operations leadership would begin immediately.
In the meantime, the team will be held down by Director of Hockey Operations Alec Schall, American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton General Manager and Manager of Hockey Operations Erik Heasley and Hockey Operations Analyst Andy Saucier. Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan will assist in the transition.