Jan 7, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) makes a save on Vancouver Canucks forward Mike Santorelli (25) during the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Rutherford Initially Informed Mike Johnston Had Canucks' Coaching Job

After nearly a month-long search, Penguins’ general manager Jim Rutherford hired Mike Johnston as his head coach to replace Dan Bylsma.

Rutherford interviewed seven people in early June, and one out of those seven candidates were expected to take the head coaching vacancy. Rutherford wasn’t in line to embrace second interviews. Johnston was not of those seven.

Set to reward the job to Willie Desjardins, he wound up choosing the same position with the Vancouver Canucks, leaving Rutherford scrambling to find another person. Which, as we know, was Johnston.

But there’s an interesting twist to this story.

Johnston wasn’t listed as one of the seven candidates Rutherford had initially concocted, however, it wasn’t because he hadn’t been considered.

According to Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Rutherford hadn’t met with him in the first stage of interviews because he was reportedly told that Johnston committed to taking the head coaching vacancy in Vancouver.

Here’s what Rutherford told Yohe:

“It’s not that he wasn’t our first choice. When I was preparing to interview these different people, I was told that he (Johnston) had the Vancouver job. That’s why we didn’t interview him in the first week.”

Rutherford continued his assumption that Johnston was Vancouver’s:

“I got halfway through the Willie Desjardins interview and realized that he had the Vancouver (job). The next day, I called Mike and set up the meeting. He was never an afterthought. I was just told he was locked into Vancouver.”


Desjardins was speculated to join the Pens, he bolts. Johnston was expected to be with the Canucks, he doesn’t wind up landing the gig. Then the two just switch places. Funny how sequences play out.

Although Desjardins sounded like Rutherford’s guy from the beginning, with how he explained why Johnston wasn’t in the first stage of interviews, it’s quite the opposite.

Sounds like Rutherford got the person he wanted all along (Johnston).

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