Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan took exception to comments made by former Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis regarding Sullivan’s relationship with star forwards Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.
Dupuis, who was in Pittsburgh last weekend as a coach for his son’s hockey team in a tournament here and visited with the Penguins, does some French-language TV work. After his trip to Pittsburgh, he reportedly said on TVA Sports that Sullivan’s directives to Malkin and Kessel aren’t always well received and there could be a disconnect between those players and the coach.
“I’m surprised. I’m disappointed, quite honestly,” Sullivan said after the team’s morning skate in Washington. “I think it’s very irresponsible on his part. He should know better having been in a dressing room and understand what we go through on a daily basis. It was a pretty irresponsible comment on his part.
“All I can tell you is that my relationship with Geno and Phil has been the same since I’ve been here. We all go through ups and downs and challenges throughout the course of the season. I think that’s part of coaching. That’s part of being part of a team. That’s just part of the process. But no one has more respect for those guys than me. I believe there’s a mutual respect that exists amongst us. And so that’s just part of the process and working through challenges.
“Certainly on his part I thought it was a pretty irresponsible comment.”
Malkin has taken some heat for a drop-off in production as well as some untimely turnovers and penalties. There have been reports for some time about a disconnect between Sullivan and Kessel, perhaps centering on Kessel insisting on playing on the same line as Malkin, although both have denied any problems in the past.