clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Lessons Learned for Sullivan

Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan has an opportunity to do something no coach has done since Scotty Bowman's Detroit Red Wings won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1997 and 1998.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016-2017 edition of the Pittsburgh Penguins will not have a few members of last year's Stanley Cup members as Jeff Zatkoff signed with Los Angeles Kings, Beau Bennett traded to New Jersey Devils, and Ben Lovejoy priced himself  out of a spot on the Penguins to sign a deal with the Devils.

They managed to keep everyone else to help raise expectations of a second consecutive championship.

Sullivan isn't going to let the players rest on their laurels by already making a clear demand that speed and conditioning will be the minimum requirement for this year's team.

Based on last season, Sullivan's lessons learned as a head coach for Boston and assistant in Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, and Vancouver Canucks resulted in a successful run to the Cup.

The last time the Penguins were in this position was in 2009 as Dan Bylsma was feeling good about himself and made unfortunate changes to the team's forechecking from a 2-man forecheck aggressively hunting down the puck to a team that tried to overdo their breakouts with long stretch passes that basically limited the puck skills for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

Penguins went from a quick free-flowing but responsible attack to being slowed by bad breakouts.

Sullivan returned the uptempo hockey after taking over for Mike Johnston with the fast and fearless mantra.

After a week of training camp and a few exhibition games, it appears Sullivan is a man of history, wise to not repeat it. If Sullivan can continue to push the right buttons stressing speed, there's no reason why Sidney Crosby isn't lifting the Stanley Cup for a second season in a row.

NHL Expansion Draft Changes

"This time around the NHL is looking at allowing Vegas to start making moves three weeks before, on June 1. I think that will allow Vegas to get approached by teams, and also to approach teams, to make some of those deals that you’re talking about – where a team will say, ‘Don’t take Marc-Andre Fleury, and I’ll give you a third-round pick.’ Etc, etc. -

Pierre LeBrun on Winnipeg's TSN 1290

It will be worth watching how this plays out for Las Vegas as the Penguins won't be the only team trying to unload an asset or two to not lose a player in the draft. The Penguins have two Stanley Cup winning goaltenders with Marc-Andre Fleury and Matthew Murray but don't ignore how important a season it will be for 2013 second round pick Tristan Jarry.

If Jarry can build upon his rookie campaign in Wilkes-Barre, it could present an option for Jim Rutherford to keep Fleury and net a goldmine return in trading away Murray.

WBS 'Kids' Pushed

Last season's story was with Kevin Porter, Tom Kuhnhackl, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Oskar Sundqvist and Scott Wilson making a difference for the Penguins and this season, we might see the same repeat itself but this time, the push could come from others like Dominik Simon, Jake Guentzel, and Carter Rowney.

What a difference for this franchise under Rutherford to really drive player development and opportunity.

This is why you'll see more and more about the work by Simon, Guentzel and Rowney as the season moves along and some others don't bounce back like last season.

Pants 'N at

The NHL and NHLPA along with the Competition Committee have been working together for over a year to reduce the bulk for many goaltenders but typical for the NHL, those changes won't be ready for this season.

A reduced pants size for the NHL and AHL goaltenders is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season but should be here this season.

No truth to the rumor Henrik Lundqvist was seen torching the manufacturing plans for the new equipment.

Friendly Start to Season

The Penguins will be home at the friendly confines of Consol Energy Center for six of the first eight games to start the season before heading on a 4-game road trip to Philadelphia, Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.

This Date in History

Penguins raised their third Stanley Cup banner atop Mellon Arena on October 2, 2009. They'll hoist a fourth banner on opening night against the Washington Capitals on Thursday, October 13th.