It has become a joke in the Pittsburgh Penguins locker room. More than one player has uttered the phrase, “all you can do is laugh.” The Penguins have been beset by injuries and significant injuries this season but despite the adversity hold a playoff position. Now some national analysts are taking note of Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan.
Appearing on TSN Montreal sports radio (Montreal 690), NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire heaped praise upon Sullivan for his role in keeping the Penguins afloat. McGuire said Sullivan should just be the coach of the year, but he said there should be no other candidates.
“It’s coaching. If you really want to know the truth, they’re amazingly well-coached,” McGuire said. “Mike Sullivan, if he’s not one of the finalists for Coach of the Year, he should win Coach of the Year without any other finalists.”
McGuire was an assistant coach for the Penguins in 1991 and 1992. He was also the Hartford Whalers head coach in 1993-94. He currently serves as a TV analyst for NBC Sports.
“With Jacques Martin, Mark Recchi and Sergei Gonchar, Mike Sullivan has coached as well or better–even though he’s won two Stanley Cups–he’s coaching better now than he did then. I’ll tell you that,” McGuire concluded.
The Penguins are 20-10-4 despite being the most significantly injured team in the NHL. Detroit has lost more man-games to injury, but no team has lost more lineup significance than the Penguins. And the bad news continued Thursday when head coach Mike Sullivan announced defenseman Justin Schultz was out “week to week.”
In addition to props for Sullivan, McGuire singled out the Penguins speed and three players.
“Tristan Jarry has been a huge story for (the Penguins) in goal. A huge story for them,” McGuire said as he also praised defenseman John Marino and the Penguins depth players, “who all can skate.”
“Teddy Blueger is one of those blue-collar, under the radar guys who is tough to play against.”
Click here to listen to the full 20 minutes of good hockey talk with McGuire and Montreal 960 drive-time host Mitch Melnick.