CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan will take a leave of absence to be with family after his father, George Sullivan passed away, today. Mr. Sullivan was 81.
Penguins assistant coach Jacques Martin will oversee the day-to-day activities in Mike Sullivan’s absence. Fellow assistant coach Mark Recchi offered a touching story about the Sullivans. He got to know Mr. Sullivan in the Stanley Cup celebrations of 2016 and 2017.
“I remember sitting on the deck (with George) smoking cigars. He was loving life,” said Recchi, who also expressed happiness Mr. Sullivan was in good health through the celebrations and was able to enjoy his son’s success.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now and all of our associates extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Sullivan family and wish them strength in the coming days.
Camp Day 2
Day 2 of Pittsburgh Penguins training camp wrapped with less offense but a few more raised tempers and sticks. For the second time in a week, Evgeni Malkin received a high stick and left the ice. Zach Aston-Reese avoided injury when he was hit high by a puck and a few more players gave and received a good face wash. The Penguins training camp competitions are hotly contested, even if most of the roster spots are likely settled.
Zach Aston-Reese admitted to PHN its a tough competition because everyone involved, including Daniel Sprong and Dominik Simon, “are close (friends).” PHN will do a full report on Aston-Reese available tomorrow. The full interview is available now on Pittsburgh Sports LIVE Youtube channel.
Not the San Jose kind
It’s common for players to be asked about their offseason this time of year. Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith might have the best vacation tale.
He went to Hawaii for the first time, to the island of Oahu.
“It was beautiful,” he said. “I got engaged there. It was a good summer. We kind of stayed away from the cities and did a lot of snorkeling, shark diving, cool stuff like that.”
Hold up. Shark diving?
“It was crazy,” DeSmith said. “We dove with Galapagos sharks, no cage. It was kind of terrifying. They’ve never had an incident, so we knew it wasn’t super dangerous. They were pretty big; I think like 10 and 15 feet.”
Might make, say, Alex Ovechkin bearing down from the left circle seem a bit less manacing.
Improvising on the fly
DeSmith and John Muse were the goalies for Team 2 in Saturday’s scrimmage, where teams play two halves. About halfway through the first half, DeSmith came out of the net and Muse went in.
Was he hurt? That got ruled out when DeSmith and Muse again switched halfway through the second half.
It turns out, it was an equipment thing.
“I stepped on my skate lace, and it cut it. I kept tripping on it,” DeSmith said.
So he called an audible, and the goalie rotation got adjusted accordingly.
Cullen: LW or C?
Matt Cullen told PHN he’s been around long enough and played left wing and center that he doesn’t have a preference. Left wing isn’t easier on the body, but “you focus more on offense.”
Cullen finds himself in an interesting position of battling players for ice time but also being a locker room leader who can help those young players take his position. “The same team,” is what he repeated to Pittsburgh Hockey Now. Cullen’s leadership will be far more effective with a regular sweater than it will be from the press box. The Penguins use of Aston-Reese on Malkin’s line could Cullen’s battle more difficult.
Schultz’ Confidence Waned
Justin Schultz admitted his confidence waned last season despite a solid year.
“I wanted to contribute more offensively,” he said. However, Schultz was sure to caution his confidence did not crater, “It was nowhere near (as bad) as it was in Edmonton,” he said. Schultz had completely lost his confidence with Oilers before coming to Pittsburgh.
Schultz had 27 points (4g, 23a) in 63 games last season.