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.”