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Pittsburgh Penguins fire head coach Mike Johnston and assistant Gary Agnew

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins fired head coach Mike Johnston on Saturday and replaced him with Mike Sullivan.

“I felt it was time for a coaching change because our team has underachieved,” general manager Jim Rutherford said in a release. “Our expectations are much higher with this group of players.

“Mike Sullivan has been a head coach and an assistant coach in the NHL and we’ve been very fortunate to have him with our AHL club this season. He’s done an outstanding job in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and he’s ready to step in.”

Entering play Saturday, the Penguins were tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings with 33 points. They were fifth in the Atlantic Division with a 15-10-3 record.

Johnston was in his second season behind the bench after Rutherford hired him from the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks.

The 47-year-old Sullivan was in his first season as head coach with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and led the AHL club to an 18-5 record.

Assistant coach Gary Agnew was also relieved of his duties as part of the overhaul. Longtime NHL coach Jacques Martin was promoted to assistant coach, joining Rick Tocchet.

The Penguins' next game is Monday night against the Washington Capitals at CONSOL Energy Center.

The Canadian Press

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