Ex-NHL assistant Johnston named Penguins coach

AFP
Mike Johnston talks to his team during a training session at the O2 Arena in London, September 28, 2007
Mike Johnston talks to his team during a training session at the O2 Arena in London, September 28, 2007 (AFP Photo/Carl de Souza)

Pittsburgh (AFP) - Mike Johnston, a National Hockey League assistant coach for nine seasons, was named Wednesday as the new coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Johnston, 57, spent the past six years as the coach and general manager of the Portland Winterhawks junior team.

He guided the team to the Western Hockey League finals in each of the past four seasons.

"Mike comes to Pittsburgh with great experience at all levels of hockey," Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said.

"He has terrific knowledge of the game and proven leadership ability.

"His coaching style is going to be a good for the players we have here with the Penguins -- it's an up-tempo style, but it begins from deep in the defensive zone. We're very excited to have him."

Johnston was an assistant for the Vancouver Canucks from 1999-2006 and the Los Angeles Kings for two seasons after that, but will call the shots for the first time with the Penguins.

"To get to this level is something I've always aspired to," Johnston said.

Johnston replaces Dan Bylsma, who was fired earlier this month after Rutherford took over the team. Bylsma guided Pittsburgh to the 2009 Stanley Cup title.