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Notebook: Penguins Called Dubas Quickly, Jarry/Goaltending a Top Priority



Pittsburgh Penguins, Kyle Dubas

The Pittsburgh Penguins, and their owners Fenway Sports Group, got their man Thursday. The organization hired Kyle Dubas as the new president of hockey operations.

The process from job opening to filling the president of hockey operations role took just over six weeks.

Dubas was presumed to be the favored GM candidate, but his ascension to the president role means he will lead and direct the hockey department. Moving forward, all things Penguins are in his hands.

However, the team still needs a general manager who will work under Dubas, who will reconvene the GM search in July.

With most teams already in final preparations for the draft and free agency, permitting a team like the Penguins to speak to an AGM or inner circle position would risk sensitive information. Several teams, including the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers, denied the Penguins and FSG permission to speak with their people in the first go-round. So, the process is on hold until July, and Dubas will lead the next search.

Dubas Family / Penguins PR Hat Tip

Give the Penguins’ PR staff an apple for landing Dubas.

Dubas and FSG co-owner Tom Werner credited Penguins V.P. of Communications Jen Bullano for her city tour and hosting the Dubas family.

“I also want to thank Shannon, Kyle’s wife, for supporting Kyle’s decision. Jen Bolano is one of the outstanding tour guides of our community, and I hope she never leaves the organization, but she can become the president of the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce after her tour for Kyle’s family,” Werner said.

FSG didn’t waste time courting Dubas. They called the morning after the Toronto Maple Leafs made him available. Boston Red Sox president Sam Kennedy was the person who called (FSG also owns the Red Sox).

While Dubas admitted he was ready to take a breath after the whirlwind of losing in the playoffs to being fired, he cited sage advice from Shannon after FSG called.

“And my wife said, ‘I actually think you should go and at least meet with them.’ She said if they’re great people and they have a long-term view of the organization, it’s going to be a great fit for you in terms of what everybody is about … And (if) the staff has a great feel, then we’re going to be moving anyway now,” Dubas recounted. “So our kids will be six and two, and Leo will be in Grade One next year. Shannon’s view was, ‘If we’re going to move, we may as well move now before the kids are too entrenched.’ And so that was the first step.”

Beyond getting a glowing tour of the city, Dubas also did his due diligence with the principals of the current Pittsburgh Penguins, namely Mike Sullivan and Sidney Crosby.

It was quickly apparent that Sullivan’s job was not in jeopardy. In discussing building around Sidney Crosby and the Penguins’ core despite their age, Dubas praised Sullivan and indirectly indicated he’s part of the long-term outlook.

“Sully could coach forever,” Dubas said. “I mean, he’s a great coach, so there’s no real expiration date on Mike (in terms of age).”

The coach and the new president of hockey operations have had several conversations regarding the Penguins’ structure and future.

“I had the chance to speak with Coach Sullivan and Sidney Crosby,” said Dubas. “I thought that those were very important people for me to get a real deep sense of where they felt the organization was at and where it would be going so that I knew coming in where they felt the Penguins were at and what they felt the Penguins would need for somebody in this role.”

Tristan Jarry or Other?

The Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations got to work immediately Thursday. Dubas specifically mentioned goaltending as the first priority.

“I’ll rely on Andy Chiodo, who’s the goaltending coach, and Mike (Sullivan) in terms of what he’s all about as a person. I’ll probably try to take the chance to meet him myself and get to know him,” Dubas said. “It’s a big decision for the club, and then (the process will be) doing a very thorough evaluation of Tristan, where he stands in the marketplace.”

Jarry battled a myriad of injuries last season. Rumors abounded regarding which part of the lower body bothered him. He also suffered an upper-body injury.

He never got on track. Jarry finished with a subpar .909 save percentage and 2.90 GAA.

“(We’ll) get a real scope of who will be available, whether that’s in free agency or trade. And then if Tristan is at the top of that mix or in that mix — because he’s familiar and you know him — it’ll be to try to establish a concept that can get done with him and his agent.”

The free agent market isn’t flush with potential No. 1 goalies. However, the new trend in the NHL is multiple goalies to fill the starter’s spot. The Vegas Golden Knights are in the Stanley Cup Final and have used four goalies this season. The Florida Panthers have used three, including third goalie Alex Lyon extensively, though starter Sergei Bobrovsky has seized the net since the middle of Round One.

Dubas’ decision on Jarry seems to be the first variable he’ll control regarding constructing the 2023-24 Pittsburgh Penguins.

If history is a guide, the tandem approach may come to Pittsburgh.

In Toronto, Dubas acquired Matt Murray from Ottawa and signed Ilya Samsonov to be a goalie tandem. Though Joseph Woll, 24, started the final two playoff games as they lost to the Florida Panthers in five games.