Between injuries and Covid infections, it’s been a strange season for head coach Mike Sullivan and the Pittsburgh Penguins, but nothing “Sully” hasn’t seen before in some way, shape, or form. As he’ll profess momentarily, his NHL career behind benches has been a sometimes rocky road with some amazing learning experiences. That includes his 2013-’14 stop here with the Vancouver Canucks, working along side head coach John Tortorella.
Of course Sullivan took over as the head coach of the Penguins in the late-fall of 2015 and promptly went on to win back-to-back Stanley Cups.
By the way, many forget he played 709 NHL games as a checking line centre in a career that ended in 2002.
You’ll hear that Sullivan is close with Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green, the two talk hockey a lot, and Green actually played for Sullivan in Boston for two seasons before and after the 2004-’05 owner’s lock-out. To put this in context, that’s why I know Sully as well. It may have been the last time in league history that when the final buzzer sounded, the head coach would walk off the bench and sit down for a live interview on television. That was us in 2005-’06 – you would have enjoyed the time during a seven-game losing streak when I suggested the Bruins had stopped skating.
Sullivan also previews tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.
Forward Bryan Rust (lower body) is not expected to play this evening. Geno Malkin (knee) is traveling with the team and still skating with a non-contact jersey, and goalie Tristan Jarry gets the start. Thatcher Demko starts for Vancouver with the same line-up from last game in Ottawa.
After his season with Torts in Vancouver, Sully coached the Wilkes-Barrie (Pennsylvania) Penguins in the American Hockey League for 24 games before being summoned to Pittsburgh by General Manager Jim Rutherford.