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Penguins House Cleaning; Team Removes Recchi, Martin and Gonchar

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Sergei Gonchar, Mark Recchi, Jacques Martin
Pittsburgh Penguins, Sergei Gonchar, Jacques Martin and Mark Recchi: Photo Courtesy of Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins have admittedly underperformed in the playoffs over the past three seasons. Head coach Mike Sullivan will return for his sixth season as the Penguins bench boss, but the other three assistant coaches were not renewed.

In other words, Mark Recchi, Jacques Martin, and Sergei Gonchar were fired. GM Jim Rutherford gave the professional sendoff.

“We want to thank Sergei, Jacques, and Mark for their many contributions to the Penguins over the years and wish them well in their future endeavors,” read Rutherford’s statement.

Recchi has been an assistant coach for two seasons and took over when the Arizona Coyotes hired Rick Tocchet as their head coach. Recchi was in charge of the Penguins power play, which faltered this season and especially in the postseason against the Montreal Canadiens.

Martin, 67, is an Xs an Os tactician and was in charge of the Penguins blue line. He stepped down from management to join Sullivan on the bench not long after the Penguins tabbed Sullivan as the head coach in November 2015.

Martin has been a successful head coach in the NHL, including winning a President’s Trophy in Ottawa where he was the head coach from 1995-2004. Martin also coached the Florida Panthers and the Montreal Canadiens.

“We are in the process of conducting a review of our organization because we have underperformed in the playoffs the last few years,” Rutherford said. “We just thought we needed to change the dynamic of our coaching staff. We have very high standards here in Pittsburgh, and we want to continue competing for Stanley Cups. The message to our fans is that ‘We are not rebuilding, we’re re-tooling.'”

The coaches’ contracts expired at the end of June but were extended for the playoffs. The purge is somewhat of a surprise, though PHN was told to expect at least one coaching change this week. See our report here.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are just 1-7 in the postseason over the last two seasons. The New York Islanders swept them in 2019 and the Montreal Canadiens humbled the Penguins by winning three of four games in a best-of-five Qualifying Round series last week.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan’s contract runs through the 2023-24 season. He remains five wins shy of former head coach Dan Bylsma for most playoff wins in franchise history.

Rutherford promised changes on Tuesday, during his final press conference of the season. He cited a lack of effort and desperation in the playoffs. He also expressed frustration as he said, “there is something wrong. Changes need to be made.”

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Jeff Arnold
Jeff Arnold
1 year ago

These are professional athletes playing the game like they don’t care about the outcome. I don’t know that firing the assistants will change it — when Malkin and then Crosby were out the team mindset was what Rutherford wants, so it seems to me the problem lies with the players — but changes need made. A “core player” needs to go and be replaced by a younger and less self-satisfied player. Sad to say

Iwasiam
Iwasiam
1 year ago

Martin was probably going to get offers and would’ve left anyway, Recchi seemed lost with that blank look on his face. Gochar wicked smart and I feel Geno will miss someone to converse with. Wouldn’t be surprised if Geno wants leave, think if you were the only American on an all Russian team going through a rebuild. Speaking of rebuild PLEASE get protection for Sid and Geno and lose Letang before teams realize how much his skills have diminished and will only take him if Pens through in Rust.

John Lacey
John Lacey(@mikeincypress)
1 year ago

Too bad we can’t get Anders Lee for Kris Letang.

Joe Pietropaolo
Joe Pietropaolo
1 year ago

I’m not at all surprised by the assistant coaching staff being let go. Martin will latch on elsewhere. Recchi was a great player but not ready for coaching yet as obvious. I’m not sure what Sarge could have done better with the talent he had to work with…Marino had a very good rookie season and was the best overall on D this year IMO and kudos to Sarge for contributing to that. Pettersson had a down year for some reason. Johnson, despite all the negative flack, was steady and better than given credit for. Schultz just not the same since… Read more »

dweth2
dweth2(@dweth2)
1 year ago

Should have kept Gonchar. He always managed to make a sub-par defensive group play above their skill level. I understand why these moves were made even though I don’t agree. I have trust in Rutherford………

Joe Pietropaolo
Joe Pietropaolo
1 year ago
Reply to  dweth2

IDK, GMJR cleared the Hurricanes house after they won the cup. Pens have been looking oddly familiar…

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