Today’s Pens Time Capsule piece comes to us from April, 14 1998.
The Penguins announced GM Eddie Johnston (83-88) and Head Coach Pierre Creamer (87-88) were relieved of their duties.
The Penguins failed to make the play-offs for the 6th consecutive season (a franchise record) and finished 1 game above .500 with a cumulative record of 36-35-9 (81 points) good for 6th in the Patrick Division.
The Penguins brass were tired of “waiting” for Lemieux to lead the team into the promised land and felt they had given Johnston ample time and resources to put together a “winning team”.
The final nail in Creamer’s coaching coffin, would come a week or so after the season ended when Creamer revealed that he had no idea that a victory was needed to secure a play-off berth (The Penguins tied the Capitals in the 2nd to last game of the season). A win would have significantly helped the Penguins secure a play-off spot (the first in Lemieux’s career).
That mistake would prove costly to both men.
Gene Ubriaco was named new Head Coach and Tony Esposito General Manager.
A couple of Interesting notes:
Johnston went on to work for the Hartford Whalers and is widely considered as the man that set forth the events that led to the team's eventual relocation to Carolina. Johnston systematically dismantled the “Whale” making haphazard deals and putting strains on relationships between Management and players.
The deal that sent Grant Jennings, Ron Francis, and room-mate Ulf Samuelsson to the Penguins for Jeff Parker, John Cullen, and Zarley Zalapski is often viewed as one of the most lopsided deals in NHL history.
Inadvertently Johnston succeeded in bringing a Cup to Pittsburgh.
1987-88 was the only season that Pierre Creamer was behind an NHL bench.
However, he would lead the Laval Titans to the QMJHL Championship in '89-90.
Well, it's time to reseal this #PensTimeCapsule. Thanks for reading.