Fresh off of leading the AHL's Texas Stars to the Calder Cup championship, 57-year-old coach Willie Desjardins - who has long been associated with the Vancouver Canucks' head coaching vacancy - has emerged as the clear front runner to takeover behind the Pittsburgh Penguins bench, according to a series of reports from TSN's Darren Dreger.
Desjardins had a phone interview with the Penguins early on Thursday, and was conspicuously absent from the Texas Stars' Calder Cup celebrations on Thursday night. Dreger meanwhile tweets that it's "believed" that Desjardins has made his way to Pittsburgh to finalize a deal.
"It may take a couple of days for the Penguins to officially decide or announce," Dreger also said on TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto on Thursday evening. "But it certainly seems as if Desjardins is the leading contender there."
It was suggested by Dreger that Desjardins, who has no previous head coaching experience at the NHL level, will have his pick of jobs: in Vancouver, or in Pittsburgh. For the moment, it sure seems as if he's leaning towards coaching Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin next season, and really, who can blame him?
If it is indeed Desjardins who the Penguins are hiring, the deal could be finished soon. Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford told Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Rob Rossi on Thursday night that "the process is coming to an end," and that "a decision is coming real soon."