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Penguins sign head coach Mike Sullivan to four-year contract extension

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GM Jim Rutherford spoke about doing so last week and followed through.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

General manager Jim Rutherford and the Penguins announced this afternoon that they’ve opted to ink current, back-to-back Stanley Cup-winning head coach Mike Sullivan to a four-year contract extension.

The extension is scheduled to begin at the end of the 2019-20 season and run through 2023-24.

“Mike has done a great job delivering four, 100-plus point seasons with our team,” said Rutherford in his press conference. “To win back-to-back Cups in this era speaks volumes of him as a coach. His instincts in managing the inter-workings of our team both on and off the ice has been impressive.”

Sullivan’s résumé since winning two Cups in a row has grown more impressive by the day. He is the first American-born head coach to win multiple championships, and the second to win two Cups in his first two seasons as the boss behind the bench. After the Penguins’ championship run in 2017, Sullivan was the first coach to win in back-to-back seasons since Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman did it with the Detroit Red Wings in 1996 and 1997.

It’s no secret that a lot of the Penguins’ recent success came directly from Sullivan’s system and how perfectly it fit with the team’s roster of top level and middling talent. He completely flipped a drowning 2015-16 team under Mike Johnston into an unstoppable force in the 2016 playoffs.

Since the promotion from AHL-affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Sullivan has gone 174-92-34 overall and 9-2 in each of his consecutive playoff series. His 38 postseason wins ranks second only to Dan Bylsma (43) who has coached 13 more postseason games than him.

There were some rumors swirling around that because of Rutherford’s appointment of Mike Vellucci as the new head coach of the Baby Pens, Sullivan’s seat was starting to warm up and that Vellucci would eventually usurp him as Sullivan did with Johnston.

This four-year extension poured cold water on those talks, as it’s clear Rutherford is confident in his guy.