After an active summer of interviewing for head coaching jobs and getting on the short lists in Boston and San Jose, it turns out Mike Vellucci’s next team will be his previous one: the Penguins. One week after re-signing fellow assistant (and now associate) coach Todd Reirden, the Pens have also given Vellucci a matching two-year contract extension.
From the team:
The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed assistant coach Mike Vellucci to a two-year contract extension, it was announced today by general manager Ron Hextall.
“Mike is a dedicated coach who has proven to be a valuable addition since joining Pittsburgh,” said Hextall. “We’re excited to have him back behind the bench for two more seasons.”
Vellucci, 56, has spent the past two seasons as Pittsburgh’s assistant coach, overseeing the team’s forwards and penalty killing unit. Last season, the Penguins’ penalty kill finished third in the NHL with an 84.4% success rate, and is ninth overall in the league (81.5%) since Vellucci joined the team in 2020. Vellucci 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.
He originally joined the Penguins organization in 2019-20, where he spent one season as the general manager and head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, helping them to a 29-26-3-5 record in 63 games. In total, eight of Vellucci’s players at the AHL level saw action with Pittsburgh that season, and 14 of them have seen NHL action with various teams since.
The Farmington, Michigan native spent five seasons as the assistant general manager and director of hockey operations for the Carolina Hurricanes from 2014-19, where he oversaw player development and scouting. During the 2017-19 seasons, Vellucci also served as the Charlotte Checkers’ head coach where he compiled a record of 97-43-8-4 in 152 games.
Between Vellucci and Reirden, the Pens have an experienced and well-regarded pair of coaches to work with Mike Sullivan. The contracts this deep in the off-season to keep both around should be a good move for the future and building upon the cohesion and stability that this staff has been able to create in recent years.
Keeping Vellucci around for a bit longer also shows how spoiled and fortunate the Pens are. Here is a guy being considered for NHL head coaching jobs, and he sits third in the pecking order of Pittsburgh coaches right now behind Sullivan and Reirden with his promotion to associate coach. In this day and age, one never knows when someone has to step up — Sullivan missed time last year after testing positive with COVID, and Reirden was away from the team for a few weeks after injuring his knee away from the rink and then having a major surgery to repair it. Even on the bench and with the coaching aspect, the Pens are in a good spot and very stacked right now. Thanks to the new contract for Vellucci, they will keep that in tact for the near future.