In the hours and days after Ray Shero was relieved of his duties as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, one of the names linked to the opening was Pat Brisson, player agent for several high-profile NHL players including Pens captain Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. As a respected agent and gifted negotiator with a life spent in hockey, Brisson seems like one of the ideal candidates to make the jump from agent to front office, a transition which has been executed in the past by the likes of Brian Burke and Mike Gillis.
That won't be happening, however. According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, Brisson plans to remain with Creative Arts Agency, better known by its acronym, CAA. As a result, he will not be pursuing the opening.
Agent Pat Brisson has decided to remain in the agent business and will not be pursuing the PIT GM job.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 19, 2014
McKenzie shared Brisson's statement on the matter in a series of tweets:
“[Penguins owners] Ron [Burkle] and Mario [Lemieux] and I have been friends for a very long time. We've been linked to each other for many years and have exchanged ideas on many fronts and the hockey business especially. They reached out on possible candidates for the vacant GM job on Friday. As for me, I am happy with what I do at CAA and will continue on the path of representing players.”
Brisson was a gifted junior hockey player, posting 267 points over four years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but he never played in the pros.
The 49-year-old has a roster of clients that includes Crosby, Malkin, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon, Nashville Predators rookie Seth Jones and many others.
Brisson's name has popped up several times when general manager jobs become open, but odds are, he can make a better living doing what he does at CAA. He'll have new contracts to negotiate for Kane and Toews after next season, which are expected to be extremely lucrative deals.
The Pens search will have to continue elsewhere. There are several experienced general managers looking for work, but as Elliotte Friedman of CBC reported, Penguins ownership may seek more control over the hockey operations side of things. That could make things interesting in their search.
One candidate the team could give an extended look to is current assistant general manager Jason Botterill, who received the interim GM tag after Shero was fired. Botterill is often mentioned as a candidate for other open GM jobs and is considered a rising star in hockey ops. The main strike against him right now is his being a key part of the last regime which just had its leader ousted. If Botterill has fresh ideas, he could potentially be promoted, but it seems like that's going to be a tough sell.
With Brisson out of the picture, it will allow more names to come to the forefront as potential candidates.
It's an important hire for the club as they don't seem to have many drastic issues, but there are key areas that a GM is going to need to significantly tweak to put the team back on its desired path.
These next few weeks will be pivotal for the club's short-term success and long-term health.