Former Penguins coach Rick Kehoe, who had been serving as a scout, was among five staff members fired yesterday as the Penguins continued to make changes under first-year general manager Ray Shero.
The Penguins reinstated scout Gilles Meloche as goaltending coach, replacing Gilles Lefebvre. In addition to Lefebvre and Kehoe, the team fired equipment manager Steve Latin, assistant equipment manager Paul Flati and assistant trainer Scott Johnson.
The five fired employees represented 69 years with the Penguins, led by Kehoe (31 years) and Latin (18 years).
Kehoe, who could not be reached for comment, had been part of the hockey staff longer than anyone and is a charter member of the Penguins Hall of Fame.
He came to the Penguins in a trade Sept. 13, 1974, and still ranks third on the team's all-time scoring list with 636 points in 11 seasons. He retired because of a neck problem early in the 1984-85 season -- after becoming the answer to the trivia question of who was Mario Lemieux's first right winger in the NHL -- and served as an assistant coach, head coach (2001-03, 55-81-14-10 record) and, most recently, the team's pro scout.
Latin became a popular figure during the Penguins Stanley Cup years in the early 1990s. He also worked for the 2002 U.S. Olympic Team.
"We appreciate everything Rick and Steve have done for the organization," Penguins spokesman Tom McMillan said. "Rick was with the Penguins for more than 30 years, and Steve was here 18 years. Obviously, they made a positive contribution in many areas.
"But this is a new era with a new regime, and the Penguins have decided to make changes and go in a new direction."
Flati had been with the Penguins 12 seasons, Johnson seven.
The Penguins made some changes to their staff in December when coach Michel Therrien was promoted from their Wilkes-Barre/Scranton minor-league club to replace Eddie Olczyk. Assistant coach Mike Yeo, strength coach Stephane Dube and Lefebvre came up with Therrien.
Other than Meloche, there was no word on replacements for those who were fired or for the scouting position vacated by Meloche.
Meloche, who played the final three of his 18 NHL seasons as a goaltender with the Penguins, has been an amateur scout for the team the past 17 years. He had the dual role of goaltending coach and scout from 1989-2004. He will coach and evaluate goalies with the Penguins and their minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
"Gilles brings a tremendous amount of experience and passion to this position," Shero said in a statement. "We think he'll do a great job working with our goaltenders here and in Wilkes-Barre, and in assisting our scouting staff in the evaluation of goaltending prospects."
Shero, who was hired in May, also needs to replace longtime head scout Greg Malone, who left earlier this month to join the Phoenix Coyotes, and is mulling whether to add another management position such as personnel director.
Shero previously hired a second assistant coach, Andre Savard, and named Chuck Fletcher assistant general manager while retaining longtime employee Eddie Johnston as senior advisor for hockey operations.
Shelly Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1721.