PITTSBURGH – J.D. Forrest has been named the head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League and Jason Karmanos has been named the team’s general manager, it was announced today by Pittsburgh Penguins executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
Forrest replaces Mike Vellucci behind the bench, who was recently named an assistant coach of Pittsburgh, while Karmanos will assume the role of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s general manager in addition to his assistant general manager duties with the Penguins NHL club.
Karmanos, 46, has served as Pittsburgh’s assistant general manager since 2017 after initially joining the Penguins’ front office as VP of hockey operations in 2014. As assistant general manager of Pittsburgh, Karmanos oversees the team’s amateur scouting and player development staffs while assisting general manager Jim Rutherford in all aspects of hockey operations. As part of his new role, Karmanos will oversee all player personnel decisions with WBS, and directly oversee the team’s coaching staff.
Forrest, 39, joined the WBS Penguins as an assistant coach prior to the 2016-17 season and worked primarily with the team’s defensive group and penalty kill unit for the past four seasons. During his time in WBS, Forrest helped the Penguins to a 161-98-19-13 record, including a conference title for the 2016-17 regular season (107 points) in his first year with the team. In the Atlantic Division over that span, only the Providence Bruins (360) have earned more points than the Penguins’ 354.
“JD has done an excellent job in his four seasons as an assistant coach in Wilkes-Barre, consistently demonstrating a strong ability to develop the young defensemen in our system,” said Karmanos. “His familiarity with the organization, our prospects and the style of hockey we want to play, together with his work ethic and team-first approach, gives us confidence that he will excel in his new role as head coach.”
Prior to joining the Penguins’ coaching staff, Forrest spent the 2015-16 season as the head coach of the Red Bull Salzburg’s farm team in Austria. In 2014-15, the Auburn, NY native served as an assistant coach of the U.S. National Team Development Program, a team that included current NHLers Auston Matthews, Charlie McAvoy, Matthew Tkachuk and Clayton Keller. Forrest helped lead the team to a gold medal at the IIHF U18 World Junior Championship.
Forrest played four years at Boston College with current Penguins skills development professional Ty Hennes, capturing the NCAA National Championship in 2001. The defenseman also spent time in the AHL with Albany and Worcester and played professionally in Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany.
The Penguins did not renew the contract of assistant coach Jarrod Skalde. The Penguins will not make any additional decisions regarding the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coaching staff until closer to the start of the AHL season.
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