The Pittsburgh Penguins were, by all accounts, left shell shocked this week when general manager Jim Rutherford unexpectedly announced that he would be stepping down from his position at the helm of the Penguins organization. It was a move that no one had expected, much less just 7 games into the regular season, and all the talk since has been regarding who might replace Rutherford in his role as general manager.
Since his resignation several high profile names have been linked to the Penguins including the likes of long time Philadelphia Flyers goaltender and general manager Ron Hextall, what a story that would be, but there have also been names like Peter Chiarelli and John Ferguson Jr. mentioned as well which probably sound a lot less appealing to fans in Pittsburgh.
On a recent podcast however National Hockey League insider Elliotte Friedman revealed that two names in particular stood out to him among the list of candidates, surprisingly with one of those names belonging to an active general manager in the NHL. Both names, that of former Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill and that of current New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald, are ones with a strong history in the Penguins organization.
"Right now I'm looking at two guys who the Penguins know really well," said Friedman during his most recent 31 Thoughts Podcast. "One is Jason Botterill. Now Botterill could have gone back this year, he could have gone back to be the assistant to Rutherford and been in this position. He decided to spread his wings elsewhere and go to Seattle."
"The other is Tom Fitzgerald who is in New Jersey who they know well."
Now you might be asking, how would the Penguins be able to hire a general manager currently working for a rival team? Well it sounds like Fitzgerald's long term future at the helm in New Jersey is far from guaranteed.
"Tom Fitzgerald has a multiyear deal in New Jersey," revealed Friedman before adding this key detail, "but only 1 year to be the GM, this year, and we will see where that goes."
Fitzgerald and Botterill both served as assistant general managers in Pittsburgh prior to taking on the role of general manager with other teams in the league, which would seemingly make them a natural fit to return to an organization they are both very familiar with.
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