The Pittsburgh Penguins have fired assistant general manager Jason Karmanos, who had been with the team since 2014. While the team searches for a replacement, Sam Ventura, the team’s director of hockey research, will assume the AGM duties. Erik Heasley, manager of hockey operations, has been named interim GM of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, which Karmanos had also been in charge of.
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford released this statement:
We would like to thank Jason Karmanos for his contributions to the organization over the past six years. I have been evaluating our hockey operations department and this is the first part of the process to re-organize our group.
While assistant general managers are let go all the time in the NHL, this move is especially surprising because of the long history between Rutherford and Karmanos. Not only did they come to the Penguins together in 2014, but they also were together for more than a decade in the Carolina Hurricanes front office. Karmanos’ father was the owner of the Hurricanes at the time and has worked closely with Rutherford since the 80’s in various organizations.
The relieving of Karmanos from this post should not be taken lightly in Pittsburgh, though it will immediately bring up additional speculation about former AGM Jason Botterill. The former Buffalo Sabres GM cut his teeth in Pittsburgh under Rutherford and has been rumored to be a candidate to return to the Penguins since the Sabres let him go earlier this year.
Rutherford has actually been open about his desire to add to the front office this offseason, but with Karmanos gone it leaves a very thin group in terms of managerial experience. The GM was clear he was extremely disappointed by the team’s postseason performance and has already made sweeping changes to the front office, coaching staff and roster.