The Stanley Cup-winning bench boss has been rewarded with a brand new four-year contract extension after a turbulent season in Pittsburgh. However with Phil Kessel traded, it is fairly clear who GM Jim Rutherford sided with.Mike Sullivan|Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesIn saying a four-year contract extension for coach Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford thrust a scrumptious paragraph out into the hockey world, ripe for dissection:
“To win back-to-back Stanley Cups on this period speaks volumes of him as a coach,” Rutherford mentioned. “His instincts in managing the inter-workings of our staff each on and off the ice has been spectacular.”
The primary half is fairly straight-forward: Sure, Sullivan is the one coach within the wage cap period to win two straight titles and that’s, certainly, fairly an accomplishment. However the second half, concerning the inter-workings of the staff? Properly, that’s attention-grabbing.
It’s no secret that the Penguins had a failure to speak between Sullivan and proper winger Phil Kessel on their palms and the scenario was not going to get higher. With Kessel traded to Arizona just lately in a bundle that noticed heart Alex Galchenyuk head to Steeltown, it’s now abundantly clear who Rutherford sided with, if it hadn’t already been so earlier than.
As a result of make no mistake: the Penguins gave up the most effective participant in that deal. But when Kessel wasn’t becoming into Sullivan’s construction and the wins weren’t coming anymore, one thing needed to give. It’s normally simpler to only fireplace the coach then commerce away a point-per-game participant, however Rutherford and the Penguins made the choice to not solely retain Sullivan, however to offer him long-term job safety.
Pittsburgh is in an enchanting place proper now, as a result of the Penguins nonetheless make use of two of the most effective facilities within the NHL in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. In addition they have a younger goaltender with two Cup rings in Matt Murray, who sadly has additionally been bitten by the damage bug typically and is trying extra mortal to shooters than he did as an unknown star not so way back. The protection is a little bit dodgy and the depth up entrance appears to be like a little bit higher proper now in comparison with the tip of the season, but it surely’s not nice. All these years of going for a title depleted the prospect pipeline and the 2019 draft was the primary good one Pittsburgh had in a few years.
However you may’t fold up store, proper? Crosby remains to be too good, as are Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang. So that you maintain on to what and hope the subtraction of Kessel makes a optimistic distinction. Sullivan brings the consistency and familiarity to steer the ship and doubtlessly wring another nice playoff run out of the Crosby-Malkin epoch.
It’s additionally price noting simply how risky the teaching market is. We love the thought of latest blood coming in, but it surely was fairly muted this summer time. Ralph Krueger and Dallas Eakins deserved second possibilities and it is going to be attention-grabbing to see what D.J. Smith can construct in Ottawa, however the place had been the Scott Sandelins or Rikard Gronborgs? There’s nonetheless quite a lot of conservatism on the highest finish of the game and that favors a recognized amount akin to Sullivan. If you’ll find a bench boss together with his credentials nowadays, you bounce on him. Rutherford clearly is aware of this.
Another focal point right here entails one other latest organizational rent: Mike Vellucci. Coming in from Carolina, the place he led the AHL Charlotte Checkers to their first Calder Cup championship, Vellucci might be helming the Child Pens in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton subsequent season. On the time, I assumed this was a transfer designed to have a successor ought to Sullivan and the Penguins falter early in 2019-20, however that’s actually not the case now that he’s armed with a four-year contract. I’ve little question Vellucci will get his personal NHL bench sometime quickly, but it surely’s much less more likely to be in Pittsburgh now. After all, if Sullivan can hold the Penguins aggressive for the following 4 years, that gained’t be a problem for administration anyway.
Tags: nhl, pittsburgh penguinsConnect: Concerning the AuthorRyan KennedyRyan Kennedy is the affiliate senior author and draft/prospect professional at The Hockey Information. He has been with the publication since 2005 and in that span, Don Cherry, Lil Jon and The Rock have all referred to as his home. He lives in Toronto together with his spouse and youngsters the place he listens to loud music and collects NCAA pennants.