Pens hand Mike Sullivan a three-year contract extension

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The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they’ve signed head coach Mike Sullivan to a three-year contract extension. The new deal runs through the 2019-2020 season.

“Mike did the best coaching job in the NHL last season,” GM Jim Rutherford said in a release. “He continues to be a terrific coach and we are happy to give him a well-deserved extension.”

Since taking over as head coach on Dec. 12, 2015, Sullivan has led the team to a 55-24-10 record and, oh yeah, he also helped them take home the Stanley Cup last spring.

Sullivan took over a slumping Penguins team that was headed in the wrong direction under Mike Johnston, and he managed to change their identity fairly quickly. Pittsburgh developed into a fast, well-balanced squad that proved to be impossible to knock off in the playoffs.

It’s also safe to say that his star players have appreciated playing for him. Besides just winning, players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Kris Letang have all flourished under Sullivan.

In 81 games with his new coach, Crosby has racked up 54 goals and 104 points (no one in the NHL has better numbers during that span), while Malkin and Letang are third and sixth respectively in points-per-game.

As for Kessel, he finished the regular season with a respectable 26 goals and 59 points in 82 games, but he exploded in the playoffs, as he earned strong Conn Smythe trophy consideration (Crosby won though). He finished with 10 goals and 22 points in 24 post-season games.

Here’s some more interesting information via the Penguins:

Incredibly, the Penguins have recorded 14 of their 55 wins (25%) under Sullivan when trailing by two or more goals at any point within that contest. This season, the Penguins own the NHL’s best winning percentage when trailing after both the first and second periods.

Since dropping the first four games of Sullivan’s tenure in regulation, the Penguins have a streak of 85 consecutive games played without back-to-back regulation losses. That number swells to 109 if you factor in the playoffs.