Longtime Jim Rutherford confidant and Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Jason Karmanos is a candidate for the vacant Arizona Coyotes position, according to a report Craig Morgan of AZCoyotesinsider.com. Karmanos is confirmed to have interviewed for the position.
Morgan and PHN shared information on Friday afternoon regarding the process.
Karmanos, 46, spearheaded the Penguins’ modernization and increased usage of analytics.
A name to add to the Coyotes GM search: Multiple sources confirm that Penguins AGM Jason Karmanos had an interview with the Coyotes on Thursday. Karmanos has been Pens AGM since 2017. Was Pittsburgh's VP of hockey ops (2014-17). Served 15 years as exec w/Hurricanes (1998-2013).
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) September 4, 2020
He is the son of former Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. and was an executive with Carolina under Rutherford for 15 years. Despite some initial rancor between Karmanos Jr. and Rutherford after Rutherford left Carolina to become the Pittsburgh Penguins GM in June 2014, Jason Karmanos followed Rutherford to Pittsburgh.
From 2014-2017, Karmanos served as the Penguins VP of Hockey Operations from 2014-17 and was elevated to assistant GM in 2017. Karmanos is currently the last of three assistant GMs who served under Rutherford in 2017. Bill Guerin and Jason Botterill were the others. Each earned a general manager position in Minnesota and Buffalo, respectively.
Before entering hockey, Karmanos was an investment banker in Boston and earned a B.A. from Harvard. It appears he would have an existing relationship with Arizona head coach Rick Tocchet, who served as the Penguins assistant coach from 2014 to 2018.
The Arizona Coyotes vacated the general manager position in July after a messy split between the organization and John Chayka, who was offered additional duties by the New Jersey Devils. Chayka’s relationship with new Arizona owner Alex Meruelo deteriorated after Meruelo believed Chayka lied about interviewing with the New Jersey owners.
New Jersey also withdrew its interest in Chayka, too.
PHN will stay on top of the Karmanos story and report additional details as available.
Karmanos would appear to be the type of analytics-focused candidate which Arizona sought when the organization hired Chayka. Arizona is one of the leaders, for better or worse, in the NHL regarding the usage of advanced analytics.
However, it is interesting to note that Karmanos is the last assistant general manager with the Penguins, as the team has not replaced Guerin or Botterill in the previous several years. Why now is Karmanos interviewing?
It is unknown if he has interviewed for other jobs in the past, or even been interested. Why now and why Arizona?
From the Penguins perspective, the circle around Rutherford has shrunk in the past 12 months, and losing Karmanos would leave a hole in both the analytics and hockey circle. Former CMU grad student Sam Ventura has grown within the organization over the past five years and could be in line to assume a more significant role, too.
Arizona is against the salary cap but has not yet achieved results befitting their payroll, and it is consensus Arizona will undergo a rebuild or at least a significant retool, which includes a salary reduction.