After a lackluster start, the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday fired head coach Mike Johnston. He will be replaced by the coach of their AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Mike Sullivan.
Johnston took over the Penguins before the 2014-2015 season and went started 22-6-4 before the team leveled out to a 43-27-12 mark at the end of 82 games. Pittsburgh made the playoffs but was eliminated in the first round of the by the New York Rangers.
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford stated that the team was not playing to expectations under Johnston.
"I felt it was time for a coaching change because our team has underachieved," Rutherford said in a team statement. "Our expectations are much higher with this group of players.”
Rutherford has made it known publicly that he’s unhappy with the way the team has been trending and with some lineup decisions.
The Penguins finished No. 18 in the league in scoring during Johnston’s first season. Prior to this season, they added Phil Kessel to accompany Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby but it hasn't translated to goals as the Penguins rank No. 27 in scoring. Pittsburgh has lost three of their last four, dropping their record to 15-10-3.
They stand seven points behind Metropolitan-leading Washington despite playing one more game. There are four teams in the eight-team division with more points.
Sullivan was in his first year as head coach at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and boasts an 18-5-0 record this season. He replaced John Hynes, who was hired to be the new coach of the New Jersey Devils.