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Penguins fire GM, coaching staff under evaluation

(Reuters) - The Pittsburgh Penguins fired general manager Ray Shero on Friday, saying they wanted to overhaul the team's operations after being knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Shero was relieved of his duties three days after Pittsburgh were beaten by the New York Rangers in the second round of the playoffs after blowing a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series.

"We feel it is time to move our franchise in a new direction," the team's co-owners, Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, said in a statement. "We share the disappointment of our fans that we have not had success in the playoffs over the past five seasons.

"We believe that new leadership in the general manager’s office will bring a new approach and new energy, and help us return to championship form."

Shero took over as the team's general manager in 2006. Under his guidance, the Penguins made the playoffs in each of his eight seasons in charge, reaching the Stanley Cup final in 2008 and winning the championship in 2009. But the Penguins have failed to make the Stanley Cup final since, despite boasting a powerful roster of players, losing to lower-ranked opponents in each of the last five post seasons.

"We've had success in the regular season. We have a good team," Penguins President David Morehouse told a news conference. "This is a lot different than a team that needs to have a complete overhaul and a revamping, that has missed the playoffs for consecutive years.

"We're a team that's a good team that has high expectations and want to get better."

Penguins assistant general manager Jason Botterill will serve as interim general manager and will be a candidate for the full-time position, according to Morehouse. The new general manager will also decide the fate of current Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma and his staff. In the leadup to Friday's announcement, speculation had been rife that Bylsma would be fired but Morehouse said that was not the case.

"We have not fired Dan Bylsma," Morehouse said.

"I don't think there's an element of weirdness. What we're trying to do, we're trying to do it systematically, and what we wanted to do is first address the situation at the top and the leader of the organization, that is the general manager.

"This is not a complete rebuild. This is a team that has had a level of success. What we're trying to do is get from good to great."

(Reporting by Julian Linden in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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