The Pittsburgh Penguins have rewarded Stanley Cup winning coach Mike Sullivan with a three-year contract extension, the team announced Monday.
After the Penguins fired Mike Johnston last December and brought up Sullivan from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton where he was coaching the organization’s AHL team, the Penguins took off.
Last season Pittsburgh went 33-16-5 under Sullivan and then 16-8 in the playoffs on their way to the Cup. This season, the Penguins are 22-8-5 and have the second-best record in the Metropolitan Division.
Before the Penguins fired Johnston, captain Sidney Crosby had 19 points in his first 28 games in 2015-16. After Johnston was replaced by Sullivan, Crosby notched 66 points in his last 52 games.
“Mike did the best coaching job in the NHL last season,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said in a statement. “He continues to be a terrific coach and we are happy to give him a well-deserved extension.”
Under Sullivan, the team has embraced an attacking style that has enabled the players to score at a high level. Evgeni Malkin (39 points) and Crosby (38 points) rank in the top-three in the league in scoring and Crosby is currently in the middle of the best goal scoring season of his career, with 24 in 29 games. Winger Phil Kessel is tied with Patrick Kane for eighth in scoring.
The Penguins are the only team with three players in the NHL’s top-10 in points this season and have scored 3.40 goals per-game to lead the NHL.
“(Sullivan) wants high intensity, high pace. He wants a fast team that’s relentless on pucks and he wants our skill players to make plays, but at the same time to be smart,” Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said of Sullivan in a recent interview with Puck Daddy. “What he brought to our team last year is the same message that he sent us early in training camp.”
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