This summer has been largely one of re-shaping the defense and otherwise keeping the band together for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rickard Rakell, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust have all signed lengthy contract extensions. Earlier in the summer, the Pens extended the contracts of their two most established assistant coaches in Todd Reirden and Mike Vellucci to multi-year deals.
The only name missing to this point for on-ice presence that could be extended has been head coach Mike Sullivan. It’s missing no longer, with Pittsburgh announcing a contract extension to tack on three more seasons after Sullivan’s current deal was to expire in 2024. This new deal will keep him under contract through the 2027 season.
IN SULLY WE TRUST!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) August 30, 2022
We are proud to announce the three-year contract extension for Coach Sullivan.
The extension will kick in at the conclusion of the 2023.24 campaign, and run through the 2026.27 season. https://t.co/A9EnSXrUj3
From the team:
The Pittsburgh Penguins and head coach Mike Sullivan have agreed to a three-year contract extension, it was announced today by General Manager Ron Hextall.
The extension will kick in at the conclusion of the 2023-24 campaign, and run through the 2026-27 season.
“Mike is one of the top coaches in the National Hockey League and it was important for us to have him signed long term,” said Hextall. “He is a great leader that finds success through communication, honesty and accountability. We know that Sully is committed to continuing a winning culture here in Pittsburgh.”
A native of Marshfield, Massachusetts, Sullivan began his tenure in Pittsburgh by leading the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in 2016 and 2017. This feat made him the first American-born coach in NHL history to win multiple Stanley Cups, the second head coach to win Stanley Cups in each of his first two seasons behind the bench with a team along with Toe Blake (Montreal, 1956-58), and the first head coach to lead his team to back-to-back championships since Scotty Bowman with the Detroit Red Wings in 1996 and 1997.
“This is a wonderful day for the entire organization with Mike committing to remain as head coach for the long term with the Penguins,” said Fenway Sports Group Principal Owner John Henry. “He has clearly demonstrated what an effective leader he is and it’s evident how well players respond to his philosophy and work ethic night after night, month after month.”
“We value the relationship we are developing with Mike and felt it was important to ensure that relationship would continue long term,” said Fenway Sports Group Chairman Tom Werner. “He’s one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League and we look forward to our continued collaboration with him and the entire Penguins organization to bring another Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh.”
Since taking over the Penguins’ bench on December 12, 2015, Pittsburgh’s 297 regular-season wins rank fourth in the league, while its 44 playoff wins rank second. Sullivan’s 297 wins with Pittsburgh are the most in team history.
Overall, Sullivan is 297-156-54 behind the Penguins’ bench, where his 507 games coached with Pittsburgh and .639 points percentage both rank second in team history. The Penguins have recorded 100 or more points in all five full 82-game seasons for which Sullivan has been head coach.
Sullivan recorded his 300th career win on March 11, 2021, becoming the fourth American-born head coach with 300-plus wins, following John Tortorella, Peter Laviolette and Dan Bylsma. He became the 13th-fastest head coach in NHL history, and second-fastest American-born head coach, to reach 300 wins in 559 games. Sullivan’s career .615 winning percentage (367-212-15-77) ranks fifth among active coaches (min. 200 games coached).
Since joining Pittsburgh, Sullivan has gone 9-5 in playoff series, and has a franchise-record 44 postseason wins as a head coach.
Sullivan was originally hired by Pittsburgh as the head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Pittsburgh’s top farm club. WBS started off the 2015-16 campaign with an 18-5 record prior to his promotion to Pittsburgh.
The year before joining the Pittsburgh organization, Sullivan earned a Stanley Cup ring with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2014-15, serving as a player development coach.
Sullivan began his NHL head coaching career with the Boston Bruins from 2003-06, winning a division title his first year. He later spent seven straight years as an NHL assistant coach with Tampa Bay, the New York Rangers and Vancouver from 2007-14.
Sullivan has coached for Team USA several times at the international level, including serving as an assistant coach at the 2016 World Cup, 2008 World Championship the 2006 Olympics, and he was the head coach of the 2007 World Championship team. He was slated to serve as head coach of the 2022 Olympic team, but did not attend due to NHL players and staff not participating in the games.
Before beginning his coaching career, Sullivan skated in 709 NHL games over 11 seasons, totaling 54 goals and 136 points. He was originally drafted by the New York Rangers in the fourth round (69th overall) of the 1987 NHL Draft.
Nice little shoutout with the quote from FSG owner John Henry, clearly the Pens’ ownership group is very pleased with the job Sullivan has done and moved early to make sure that he will be behind the bench for the foreseeable future.
And even if the broadcasters haven’t acknowledged Sullivan with a nod to be a Jack Adams award finalist over the years, there are signs his coaching inputs are as positive as anyone’s in the NHL:
it's insane what the Oilers did in going from Tippett to Woodcroft. also, Sullivan should really get more credit for being possibly the best coach in the league https://t.co/HpJRy5byif pic.twitter.com/osZIkJRtrq— ck (@404ResponseCode) August 18, 2022
Sullivan has already been with the Pens for a long time, relative to the usual NHL coach lifespan. Only Tampa’s Jon Cooper (2013) has been a head coach in the league with his current team longer than Sullivan as of now.
Now the area of finances and contract term is one less thing to be on Sullivan’s mind so that he can focus on steering the Pens back towards playoff success.