Could Boston Executive Director Of Player Personnel John Ferguson Jr. be a candidate for the open Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager job?
During Sportsnet ‘Saturday Headlines’, NHL Insider Chris Johnston suggested that Ferguson Jr., along with Montreal Canadiens General Manager Scott Mellanby, could emerge as candidates for the job, if they’re not already.
“Mellanby’s been up for GM jobs in the past, I know he’s of interest to the Penguins and Mario Lemieux, the Penguins’ owner, is quite involved in this process and he’s also, of course, pretty good friends with Marc Bergevin, who is Mellanby’s boss in Montreal, so I think there could be a tie there,” said Johnston.
There’s some thought in Pittsburgh that (Ferguson Jr.) might also mirror the Mike Sullivan situation, got a chance very early in his career at being a GM in Toronto when he was just 36 years old but he’s had a lot of time since then and might be ready for another kick at the can.”
The Penguins GM job became open when Jim Rutherford, who built the Penguins’ 2016 and 2017 Stanley Cup championship teams, shocked the Penguins, and the entire NHL, when he suddenly resigned while his team was in between games against the Bruins this past Wednesday.
On Sunday, a team source told Boston Hockey Now that he would be ‘surprised’ if Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney and Team President Cam Neely didn’t let Ferguson Jr interview for the Penguins GM post, given they had already let him interview for the Florida Panthers open GM job this past offseason. Former Columbus Blue Jackets Assistant GM and longtime NHL player agent, Bill Zito got the Panthers job.
There was immediate and rampant speculation that former Pittsburgh Penguins Assistant GM and former Bruins forward Tom Fitzgerald would be the leading candidate to replace Rutherford but Sportsnet NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman said the New Jersey Devils have other plans for their current GM.
“If he was available, I think he would be at the top of the Penguins’ list, but my understanding is the Devils are not inclined to allow Fitzgerald to interview,” said Friedman of the Billerica, MA native who is on a one-year contract as Devils GM but has a ‘long-term’ contract in New Jersey. “The word is they consider him a big part of their future, so I don’t think he’s going to be part of this.”
Ferguson Jr joined the Boston Bruins as Executive Director of Player Personnel and General Manager of the team’s AHL affiliate the Providence Bruins on September 15, 2016. Ferguson Jr, who served as a longtime pro scout for the San Jose Sharks (2008-2014), scouts at the professional and amateur levels. The Montreal, QC native and son of Montreal Canadiens great John Ferguson Sr., also serves as an advisor in evaluating potential trades, signings, and other transactions.
Prior to working as a scout for the Sharks, Ferguson Jr was Assistant GM of the St. Louis Blues and GM of the now-defunct Worcester Ice Cats AHL organization. At just 36-years-old, Ferguson Jr broke into the GM ranks as General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs from Aug. 29, 2003, to Jan. 22, 2008. When he was hired by the Leafs, and definitely was baptized by fire during almost four seasons running the Leafs. He traded current Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to the Bruins at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft for current NESN analyst Andrew Raycroft. It was not his greatest moment for sure. However, his days in San Jose definitely made him a much better evaluator of talent, and as Johnston suggested, much like Bruce Cassidy’s path took him, maybe Ferguson Jr deserves another shot.