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Pens hire Mike Johnston as coach, sign him to three-year deal

Portland Winterhawks v Kelowna Rockets

KELOWNA, CANADA - APRIL 25: Mike Johnston, head coach of the Portland Winterhawks stands on the bench against the Kelowna Rockets on April 25, 2014 during Game 5 of the third round of WHL Playoffs at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. The Portland Winterhawks won 7 - 3 and took the Western Conference Championship for the fourth year in a row earning them a place in the WHL final. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

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Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has found his man to lead the team.

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie, the Penguins have tabbed Portland Winterhawks coach Mike Johnston to be the new coach of the Penguins. Dreger adds that they’ve signed him to a three-year contract and will be introduced at noon by the team.

Update (12:30 p.m. ET): The Penguins made it official.

After missing out on Willie Desjardins and Bill Peters, Rutherford lands Johnston who comes with a fair bit of experience although most of it of late has come at the junior level in the WHL.

Johnston has been coach of the Winterhawks for the past six seasons and has brought them to the WHL Final four times, winning once and taking them to the 2013 Memorial Cup Final where they lost to Halifax.

He does have NHL experience as an assistant coach. He spent six seasons in Vancouver as an assistant to Marc Crawford and joined Crawford’s staff in Los Angeles for two seasons. Now he’ll be coaching Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang while they’re in the heart of their primes.

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