PITTSBURGH. Mike Sullivan doesn’t believe coaches have an “expiration date”.
Apparently, so did his superiors.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed their two-time Stanley Cup-winning head coach to a contract extension through the 2026-2027 season. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin as well as Chris Letang and the fiery Sullivan’s ability to guide them.
Sullivan had two more years left on his current contract. Still, Fenway Sports Group, which acquired the Penguins from Hall of Famers Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle last fall, has seen enough to lock out the best coach in franchise history for the long haul.
Sullivan, 54, joined Pittsburgh in December 2015. If his new contract expires, it would mean more than a decade with the Penguins, an almost unprecedented tenure in the NHL.
On the other hand, Sullivan believes he is in an almost unheard of situation.
“I think I had the luxury of inheriting a standard of excellence, a certain culture that was developed in Pittsburgh,” Sullivan said. “I feel the need to be the custodian of it.”
Sullivan’s 297 regular season wins is a franchise record. His 44–38 playoff record includes Stanley Cup wins in 2016 and 2017. The Massachusetts native is the only American-born coach to win multiple Cups and is one of only two coaches in NHL history to win a Cup in each of his first two seasons with the team.
“He has clearly shown what an effective leader he is,” said Fenway Sports Group owner John Henry. “And it’s obvious how well players respond to his philosophy and work ethic night after night, month after month.”
Even if at first glance it looks like a strange marriage. Anyway, styles.
Grinder, who has spent a decade in the NHL, deliberately doing dirty work that others wouldn’t or couldn’t snag for a spot on the roster, leads a group with such uncanny powers that Sullivan often shakes his impeccably coiffed head.
“I wish I could play this game the way this group of players can play,” Sullivan said.
He could not. However, the center, who scored all 54 goals in 11 seasons, found a way to connect with the generational talent that dot the Pittsburgh roster. Asked to explain what allowed him to succeed in a position that has a lot of time to burn out and little to sustainable success, Sullivan points not to tic-tac-toe, but to something deeper.
“I just believe in being honest and upfront with our players,” he said. “I think an important aspect of what we do is relationship building… As relationships grow and develop over time, they should get stronger.”
Especially in times of adversity, which has become a habit in Pittsburgh in recent years. The Penguins haven’t advanced to the second round of the playoffs since 2018, and a promising season ended last spring under somewhat odd circumstances when they lost to the New York Rangers in seven games in the first round.
After that, the players stressed to the bone that the club’s championship window remained open, even though Crosby, Letang and Malkin were in their 30s. Management apparently agreed, signing Letang and Malkin on a long-term basis in July. Now they’ve followed suit, doing the same with a coach whose ‘play it right’ maxim doesn’t seem out of date.
“It’s about selling a message,” Sullivan said. “It’s about making sure that whatever you’re trying to sell, they have to buy. They have to believe to the core that this is the game plan that will give us the best chance of success.”
And success remains the standard for a team that has made the playoffs for 16 straight years, the longest active streak in North American pro sports. However, Sullivan is well aware that the standard is not just to make the playoffs, but to stay for a while.
Although he is well aware of the advanced age of his superstars, he is optimistic about the future.
“I think these guys can still play,” he said of Crosby, Letang and Malkin. “They showed no signs of decline. I have the opportunity to watch these guys every day. I know the sacrifices they make.”
The past seven plus years have given Sullivan the opportunity to see these victims up close. There were tense moments. Difficult conversations. Tough decisions. Success can be fickle. Longevity, perhaps even more. A new contract is worth nothing if the Penguins don’t win and win at a high level.
“I just love what I do. I love being a part of it. I love being in the heat of battle,” he said. “I think it’s part of my DNA.”
FRISCO, Texas – Young scorer with 40 goals. Jason Robertson He is expected to miss the start of Dallas Stars training camp because the team and the restricted free agent have not agreed on a new contract.
General manager Jim Neill said there had been ongoing discussions with Robertson and his representatives over the past two weeks. Neill did not say what prevented the two sides from reaching an agreement, adding that “very good discussions” took place.
The Stars, with new coach Pete DeBoer, open camp Thursday in Cedar Park, Texas, the home of their AHL team. They have three days of work there before they return to North Texas for the show opening at home on Monday night. They open the regular season on October 13 in Nashville.
“I think he’s disappointed that he’s not at camp, and so are we,” Neill said before the team headed to the Austin area. “I think this is very important for the young player and, as you mentioned, for the (new) coaching staff. … We have some time on our side, but we want him to come here as soon as possible.”
Robertson’s base salary last season was $750,000, the end of a three-year, $2.775 million contract. He has five more years before he can become an unrestricted free agent.
The left wing turned 23 shortly after the end of last season, scoring 41 goals and 38 assists for 79 points in 74 games. Robertson joined Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Modano. Jamie Benn as well as Tyler Seguin as the only scorer to score 40 goals since the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993.
Selected by the Stars in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Robertson scored 125 (58 goals, 67 assists) in 128 NHL games. He scored one goal and had three assists in his first postseason game last season, as Dallas lost the first-round playoff series in seven games against Calgary.
DeBoer said he’s looking forward to coaching Robertson, but the forward’s absence won’t change his camp plans.
“It doesn’t affect what I do,” DeBoer said. “Look, I stayed up at night with the excitement when I coached Jason Robertson, 40+ goals, but he’s not here. So, you know, until he arrives, I can’t waste energy on this.”
Neill said the Stars are open to a long-term extension or a bridge contract with Robertson, who was one of the team’s top players with a veteran last season. Joe Pavelski as well as Rupe Hintz. In total, they scored 232 points, which was the second most in franchise history for a trio.
“We are open to everything. But other than that… I’m not going to negotiate through the media,” Neill said. As I said, we had good conversations. Let’s see where it goes.”
Training camps are reopening in the NHL after another short off-season, the third in a row squeezed by the pandemic. That doesn’t bother the Colorado Avalanche star. Nathan McKinnon one bit.
It’s time for one of the best players and his teammates to get back on the ice and defend their Stanley Cup title, less than three months after they knocked out the two-time champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I still feel like I was just playing,” McKinnon said. “I took a two-week break and then started skating again. It’s just fun. I like it and I like the short summer. It feels like the season is kind of flipping again.”
The NHL is heading into fall, with exciting playoffs and finals that have a chance to return to a regular schedule. This means full training camps for teams with new coaches and the benefits of a regular schedule.
This means that only 88 days elapse between the sixth game of the final and the first practice on the ice.
“Now we’re used to it,” the Tampa Bay goaltender said. Andrey Vasilevsky said after he and the Lightning lost in the final for the first time in three consecutive trips. “Of course it’s a little more difficult because you don’t have much time to rest. It’s basically a few weeks and you should get back to it. But yeah, I can’t complain. You want your summer to be short every year.
It’s been a little longer for Connor McDavid and the Oilers after losing to Colorado in the West Finals. Despite no downtime, McDavid “wouldn’t trade it for anything” and intends to do so even more as Edmonton bolstered their goalkeeping position by adding Jack Campbell.
Several rotations of the goalie carousel culminated in the acquisition of Avalanche Alexander Georgiev from the New York Rangers and Cup winner Darcy Kemper touchdown with Washington. Joined by new teammates, many of whom lifted the Cup in 2018, Kemper isn’t worried about less free time.
“It was definitely a unique summer,” Kemper said. “Because of how short they were, you start going back to the gym and are a little worried that your workouts will be so short. But you felt like you weren’t getting back in shape. You were already there.
The Oilers are one of several teams headed to training camp under a new coach. Jay Woodcroft took over as interim coach in February but is now full-time.
“Looking forward to camping with him,” McDavid said. “He did a great job in the middle of the season, but it’s never easy as a manager. I’m sure there are things…