Penguins shifting hunt for coach into high gear

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The search for a coach has begun.

Early indications, though, are that it won't necessarily end soon.

Jim Rutherford, in his second week as Penguins general manager, began interviewing candidates for the position Monday, but apparently didn't see or hear anything that convinced him that he'd found his man.

"Nothing to report today," Rutherford wrote in a text message late Monday afternoon.

Although Rutherford did not say how many coaching candidates he and his hockey-operations staff spoke with, John Hynes, coach of the Penguins' minor league team in Wilkes-Barre, is believed to have been in town to meet with them.

Hynes is the only publicly identified candidate for the job, but a number of others, including former Penguins winger Rick Tocchet, are known to be interested in succeeding Dan Bylsma. Rutherford reiterated Sunday he feels no urgency to have a coach by the NHL draft June 27-28 in Philadelphia, but hopes to hire one before the start of free agency July 1.

That timetable is not firm, and Rutherford said a coach could be hired well before the draft or not until after free agency has begun. In addition to interviewing coaching candidates, Rutherford and his hockey-ops staff -- a group that includes associate general manager Jason Botterill and assistant general managers Tom Fitzgerald and Bill Guerin -- are due to spend a lot of time this week, discussing possible personnel moves, preparing for the draft and free agency.

Prospects tournament

The Penguins will participate in a prospects tournament Sept. 13-16 in London, Ontario. Chicago, Toronto and Ottawa also will send squads. They are scheduled to face the Senators Sept. 13, the Blackhawks Sept. 14 and Maple Leafs Sept. 16. All three games are to will begin at 2 p.m.

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