Some recent comments and exchanges between former, celebrated player Pascal Dupuis and head coach Mike Sullivan have surfaced, and well, it seems like a little animosity is striking between them.
Dupuis paid a visit to Pittsburgh over this past weekend and made an effort to come into the team’s facilities, reunite with old teammates, talk to the local media, and even attend the Penguins’ game against the Los Angeles Kings. The homecoming looked to be a great time filled with a lot of reminiscing, plus a standing ovation from the fans at PPG Paints Arena.
Now, all of that has been overshadowed by this out-of-the-blue controversy.
It’s hard to pin-point exactly what Dupuis meant when he mentioned the alleged rift and disconnect between Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Sullivan. Nonetheless, it seemed like an ill-advised decision to put this kind of damning comment on the record out there where, once it circled around, the Penguins would eventually see it.
Dupuis reportedly said in French on an NHL pre-game broadcast in Canada that the messages between the star players and coach might not be being communicated well, or gladly received, by both parties.
These comments didn’t sit well at all with Sullivan, who, in his press conference with the media Wednesday afternoon, wasn’t shy to express his displeasure with Dupuis’ words.
Mike Sullivan on Pascal Dupuis saying there's an issue w/Sullivan, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel: "I’m surprised/disappointed. ... It’s very irresponsible on his part when he should know better having been in a dressing room and understand what we go through on a daily basis."— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) December 19, 2018
To be fair, it’s not that shocking of an observation to make considering the coach’s past quarrels with several players, such as Kessel and even former Penguin Ian Cole. But it’s evident Sullivan has done, and continues to do, his best to address and resolve any internal issues. He even flew out to Toronto to have lunch with Kessel so they could talk things over during this past offseason.
It seems like a never-ending trend of past players giving controversial quotes in non-English speaking interviews thinking that what they say won’t ever get back to whomever they were criticizing. We saw this happen with defenseman prospect Lukas Bengtsson, who confirmed in Swedish interviews that he was making his return to the SHL, but told American reporters that “nothing was certain” shortly after.
Discussing locker room dynamics with the media is frowned upon throughout the hockey community, and rightly so, but Dupuis, in a discussion with the Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey, tried to clarify what he meant:
I talked to Dupuis a short while ago about his comments. One quote: "The message has to go through better. … It’s not 'message' that they don’t listen to what he says. The boys need to take their own part of it, too. If they want to win, they have to work together."— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) December 19, 2018
More Dupuis: "I’m picking them to win the Stanley Cup. I’m picking them to win every night. I was so happy to see everybody in Pittsburgh. I’m no dummy. I’m not going to talk about stuff that’s happening in the locker room."— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) December 19, 2018
Seems like this could just be a miscommunication between Sullivan and Dupuis more than anything.