Tom Fitzgerald emerges as another in-house candidate in Penguins' search for new general manager

Jason Botterill isn't the only in-house candidate to replace Ray Shero as general manager of the Penguins.

Tom Fitzgerald, who was assistant to the general manager under Shero, is believed to have interviewed for the position last week.

Fitzgerald could not be reached for comment Monday, and team president and CEO David Morehouse, who is leading the hunt for Shero's successor, has said that he will not comment publicly while the search is proceeding.

Fitzgerald, 45, has spent seven seasons with the Penguins, the past five in his current role. Before that, he was director of player development for two.

READ about Tom Fitzgerald’s credentials here.

His primary responsibility has been to monitor the progress of the Penguins prospects outside the NHL -- be it in the minor leagues, college or junior hockey -- and to work with those players to improve their games.

Fitzgerald is expected to spend most of this week in Wilkes-Barre, where the Baby Penguins will face St. John's in Games 3, 4 and 5 of the American Hockey League's Eastern Conference final beginning Wednesday.

He appeared in 1,097 regular-season NHL games and scored the series-winning goal for Florida when the Panthers upset the Penguins in seven games in the 1996 Eastern Conference final.

Botterill, the assistant general manager under Shero, is serving as interim GM and is the only candidate team officials have publicly identified.

Tampa Bay assistant general manager Julien BriseBois is believed to be high on the list of candidates.

Player agent Pat Brisson, a longtime friend of co-owner Mario Lemieux, likely would have been the front-runner, but he declined to pursue it.

Assistant general managers Jeff Gorton (New York Rangers) and Paul Fenton (Nashville) and Dave Poulin, Toronto's vice president of hockey operations, are among the others who appear to be in the mix to varying degrees.

When Shero was fired May 16, Morehouse said the new general manager will decide whether coach Dan Bylsma and his assistants -- Tony Granato, Todd Reirden, Jacques Martin and Mike Bales -- would retain their jobs.

Although Shero's successor might well be given the latitude to fill out the rest of the hockey operations department with people of his choosing, members of that staff have said privately that when Shero was fired, they were told by Morehouse that upper management was not looking to overhaul the staff.

If the next general manager would not have a place for Fitzgerald, he would be a logical candidate to compete for the assistant general manager vacancy created in Boston last week when Jim Benning left the Bruins to become Vancouver's general manager.

Fitzgerald is a Bruins alum and his son, Ryan, was Boston's fourth-round choice in the 2013 draft.

READ the PG’s Penguins blog.

Dave Molinari: and Twitter @MolinariPG.

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