There were a lot of reasons to believe Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan might be on the hot seat entering the 2019-20 season.
On Friday, the Penguins pretty much erased that possibility.
At least for now.
The Penguins announced that Sullivan, who was set to enter the final year of his current contract, has signed a four-year extension that will run through the conclusion of the 2023-24 season.
“Mike has done a great job delivering four, 100-plus point seasons with our team,” general manager Jim Rutherford said in a team statement. “To win back-to-back Stanley Cups in this era speaks volumes of him as a coach. His instincts in managing the inter-workings of our team both on and off the ice has been impressive.”
Rutherford took over behind the Penguins’ bench in the middle of the 2015-16 season, replacing Mike Johnston, and was one of the major changes that helped turn that season around for the team. The Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup, and then became the first team in two decades to repeat as Stanley Cup champions in two decades.
In his three-and-a-half seasons as Penguins head coach Sullivan has put together a 174-92-34 record, while also winning nine playoff series.
Despite all of that success, his job security seemed to be in at least some jeopardy entering the 2019-20 season.
The Penguins are not only coming off a disappointing first-round playoff exit (a sweep at the hands of the New York Islanders) following an inconsistent regular season, but the longer Sullivan went without a new contract the more it seemed possible he could be on the hot seat entering the season.
That speculation only increased when the Penguins hired reigning Calder Trophy winning coach Mike Velluci (who has a history with Rutherford from their days in the Hurricanes’ organization).
All of that goes out the window for at least another year or two.
With Sullivan’s contract situation now taken care of the next key member of the Penguins’ organization due a contract extension is starting goalie Matt Murray as he enters the final year of his current deal. He will be a restricted free agent following this season.