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Penguins promote Todd Reirden to associate coach

A new contract for Mike Sullivan’s main lieutenant

NHL: APR 24 Penguins at Flyers Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It was a good day for Todd Reirden today. The Penguins promoted Reirden in title from assistant coach to associate coach and gave him a contract extension that probably has a little more cheese on his Whopper (NHL coaching salaries are generally not as public of knowledge as the players).

From the team:

The Pittsburgh Penguins have promoted Todd Reirden to associate coach and signed him to a two-year contract extension, it was announced today by general manager Ron Hextall.

“Todd plays an important role on our coaching staff,” said Hextall. “He’s had a proven impact on the defensemen and contributes to the coaching staff as a whole with his wealth of knowledge from over a decade as an NHL coach. We are excited to extend his contract.”

Reirden, 51, has served as the Penguins’ assistant coach since 2020 and oversees the team’s defensive group and power-play unit. Under his guidance, the Penguins’ power play (23.7%) finished fourth-best in the league in 2020-21, and their goals-against average (2.71) ranked fifth-best in the NHL in 2021-22. The 12-year NHL coaching veteran has helped the Penguins to an 83-41-14 record since 2020, with their .652 winning percentage ranking seventh-best in the league in that span.

“As a coaching staff we value Todd’s knowledge, experience and passion for the game,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “He challenges us, as coaches, to be better every day and his relationships with the players are invaluable. He is deserving of this promotion and we are excited for him.”

Prior to Pittsburgh, Reirden, a Deerfield, Illinois native, spent six seasons on the Washington Capitals coaching staff, serving as head coach from 2018-20. He was an assistant coach from 2014-16, and associate coach from 2016-18, where he helped the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup Championship in franchise history in 2018.

Reirden is currently on his second tour of duty with Pittsburgh, as he was an assistant coach with the Penguins from 2010-14, where he assumed a similar role, working with the team’s defensemen and power-play units. From 2010-14, only the Washington Capitals (20.7%) and San Jose Sharks (20.5%) had a better power-play success rate than the Penguins’ 20.3%. He earned his first Stanley Cup ring while serving as Pittsburgh’s ‘eye in the sky’ during its 2009 championship run.

While under Reirden’s tutelage, alternate captain Kris Letang has played some of the best hockey of his career, including a career year in 2021-22 when the defenseman set career highs in assists (58) and points (68). In 338 games with Reirden as a coach in Pittsburgh, Letang has averaged 0.78 points per game, which is 0.09 higher than his career average of 0.69. Letang is also a combined plus-83 over six seasons with Reirden, and was named a Norris Trophy finalist in 2012-13.

Since becoming an NHL coach in 2010-11, Reirden holds a 564-262-85 record and a .667 points percentage. He has helped his team to the postseason as either head or assistant/associate coach for 12-consecutive seasons (PIT - 2011-14, 2021-22; WSH - 2015-20), a feat no other NHL coach (head/assistant/associate/goalie) has accomplished.

In 12 NHL seasons as an NHL coach, Reirden has two Stanley Cup championships (2009, PIT; 2018, WSH), nine 100-point campaigns in nine 82-game seasons and 66 playoff wins in 12 postseason appearances. His teams have ranked in the NHL’s top-5 for power-play percentage in seven seasons, and have finished in the top-10 for goals-against average in six seasons.

Before making the jump to the NHL, Reirden spent three years with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins from 2008-10 as both an assistant coach and head coach.

Reirden primarily works with the defense, and he’ll have a lot of new material to work with after a summer that saw the Penguins trade for Jeff Petry and Ty Smith, as well as sign Jan Rutta as a free agent. There’s also the aging curve for Kris Letang to consider, the hopeful bounce-back in a contract season for Brian Dumoulin and Marcus Pettersson’s seemingly never-ending path to finally carve out a meaningful niche in the lineup. With all those moving pieces, plus the ever-dependable Chad Ruhwedel and the impending graduation or waivers situation for Pierre-Olivier Joseph, the blueline should be a fascinating area in Pittsburgh this training camp.

Considered one of the best assistant (or now associate) coaches in the league, the Pens have made sure they will have Reirden around to help look after that important segment of the roster for the foreseeable future.