Rutherford names Vellucci Wilkes-Barre’s GM


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Mike Vellucci -- Carolina Hurricanes

Mike Vellucci has only been coach of the Penguins' farm team in Wilkes-Barre for about two months, but is already adding to his duties there.

Vellucci has been named general manager of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, taking on the responsibilities that had been handled by Bill Guerin before he was chosen to be general manager in Minnesota last week.

Vellucci came to the Penguins' organization from Charlotte, where he was coach and general manager of the Checkers' club that won the Calder Cup this spring. That's pretty compelling evidence that he can be effective in the dual role he'll be assuming in Wilkes-Barre.

Jim Rutherford had identified several candidates inside the organization who were possibilities to be GM there, but said Vellucci will provide the "most seamless" transition in the wake of Guerin's departure.

"This is a job he's done for a number of years, coach and GM," Rutherford said. "He's got the experience, he's had the success. The most recent success of being the GM and coach in Charlotte and winning the American League title. He's more than capable of doing it."

Because he is the coach, Vellucci already was scheduled to be around the team in Wilkes-Barre on a daily basis, but Rutherford said that was not a significant factor in his decision.

"Billy wasn't (there constantly)," he said. "One of the advantages we have is that we have a (player) development guy in there every game, whether it's Tom Kostopoulos or Scott Young, so I'll get game reports from them. And the other thing with Billy going, two things fell into place for us: We weren't expecting to lose Billy, but we were able to get Mike Vellucci and get him over into the Penguins organization, and then also Matt Cullen, bringing him into the front office. Those two guys are going to be able to pick up the majority of some of the duties that Billy had."

He added, though, that it has not been determined how much time Cullen, who will take on a player-development role, will spend with the Baby Penguins.

"We'll see, as we go here," Rutherford said. "Once he gets in here for training camp, we'll see where we're going to need the most help. But we'll be aware of what's going on in Wilkes-Barre. These are future players coming to the Penguins."

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