Feb 3: Though Drury was a top candidate and the team asked for permission, he will not be getting an interview. Bob McKenzie of TSN reports that Drury has informed the Penguins he is not interested in leaving New York City or the Rangers at this time. That’s a pretty high profile snub, but Drury and the Rangers have been very loyal to each other over the last several years and it shouldn’t come as a total shock that he wants to stay with the organization at this time.
Feb 2: The Pittsburgh Penguins have started the interview process for their next general manager after Jim Rutherford’s sudden resignation last week, but the candidate list is still a long one according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. The insider reports that the New Jersey Devils are not going to let Tom Fitzgerald—who is currently their GM but only signed to that position through this season—interview, but Frank Seravalli of TSN tweets that the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins have granted permission to interview Chris Drury and John Ferguson Jr., respectively.
Drury, the assistant general manager of the Rangers, has been on the GM track for several years and is a top candidate for basically every job that opens. An NCAA champion, Stanley Cup winner, and two-time Olympic silver medalist as a player, Drury made a quick climb through the executive ranks and was named GM of Team USA at the 2019 World Championship. He’ll be a GM somewhere, though up until now the Rangers had been keeping him away from other opportunities.
Ferguson Jr. is another story, though his inclusion shouldn’t be scoffed at just because of his previous failures. The veteran front office member took over as GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2003 and found little success, but has been climbing back up the ranks and building his reputation since his firing in 2008. He has worked as Boston director of player personnel since 2014 and as GM of the Providence Bruins since 2016, with his name often coming up in connection with openings around the league.
Friedman offers up another couple of names that hadn’t been mentioned before: Joe Nieuwendyk and Jason Karmanos. The former was the GM of the Dallas Stars between 2009-2013 but has been behind the scenes in recent years. The latter is kind of a shocking inclusion, given he was fired from his role as AGM with the Penguins in October.
Even though the list of candidates is long, the Penguins are expected to try and hurry along with a decision in order to have a GM in place as soon as possible. Currently, the team is being run by interim GM Patrik Allvin, with help from owner Mario Lemieux.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli has confirmed another NHL executive on the Penguins’ shortlist later in the evening: Colorado Avalanche Assistant GM Chris MacFarland. The Avs have given Pittsburgh permission to interview MacFarland, who joins Drury and Ferguson as confirmed candidates. Seravalli adds that this process could move quicker than some may have expected. He notes that the Penguins have received interest in the vacancy from upwards of 20 legitimate names and hope to have their list of six or seven candidates whittled down by the end of the week. He goes so far as to say that the team hopes to have hired their new GM within the next two weeks.