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Penguins eliminate popular GM candidate

May 24, 2023, 1:50 PM ET [171 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Kyle Dubas remains the focus of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but another popular candidate is apparently not.

I made no secret I thought highly of Eric Tulsky. He would have been my first choice, for sure. So while I think the decision is disappointing I also think there’s still a path to a quality front office. Moving on from Tulsky my preferred path is now Kyle Dubas for president of hockey operations and Mathieu Darche as the General Manager.

From the Hockey News:

Darche is currently serving as the director of hockey operations for the Lightning, but has one of the most interesting educational and working history amongst the candidates. A graduate of McGill University, Darche appeared in 250 NHL games over 12 professional seasons. While his on-ice play was just average, his advocacy for the NHL and AHL Players Association was very noticeable. During the 2012 work stoppage, Darche sat on the negotiation committees for both associations and was an instrumental part in the new collective bargaining agreements.

After retiring, he went on to work for a Canadian customs broker and freight forwarding company called Delmar International. He held the role of vice president of sales and marketing there until he was hired in May of 2019 by the Lightning.

So Darche has an extensive hockey and business background. It has translated into the skills necessary to navigate the salary cap while working for a Stanley Cup contender

In his current role, Darche has had a very hands-on relationship with general manager Julian BriseBois. He advises on all player personnel and contract decisions, and is the person in charge of navigating the ever-tricky NHL salary cap. While guiding the team to back-to-back Stanley Cups, his shrewd and clever salary cap management allowed the team to acquire the perfect pieces to achieve two straight championships.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been among the most aggressive and creative teams fitting all of their stars and depth acquisitions under the salary cap the past few years. They’ve taken some unique shots like the acquisition of Branden Hagel, who put up 30 goals this year for them making only 1.5M.

During the first run, they were able to bring in veteran players like Patrick Maroon and Kevin Shattenkirk due to the reasonable contract extensions given to core players like Brayden Point and Andrei Vasilevski. The team also wisely moved on from J.T. Miller for a premium return and a gap of cap space that they would quickly fill.

The Penguins already have reasonable contract extensions for their core players in Crosby, Malkin, and Letang. It is the depth which has been problematic. The hope would be someone like Darche could maximize the value of depth players. Something which has plagued the team in their down years and has been an area of strength in their better ones.

The Penguins were allegedly going to name their GM before Toronto moved on from Kyle Dubas. It very well could have been Mathieu Darche. It might still be.

Thanks for reading!
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