Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan is the head coach of Team USA for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, and he’s bringing a couple of his people along for the ride.
On Friday, the NHL announced players would participate in the quadrennial spectacle after the NHLPA and IIHF solved insurance issues and costs. NHL players will not have coverage should they contract COVID while participating but will be insured against injury. The country federations and the IIHF will pay the injury insurance.
The NHL and NHLPA can pull out of the Olympics if the COVID situation worsens. Early January is believed to be the deadline for such a decision. However, should a player contract COVID at the Olympics, he will not be covered by insurance, and it would count as a hockey injury. Despite the risks, the players forged ahead.
Sullivan will be the USA bench boss, and he added a pair of Penguins assistants to his staff. Sullivan’s right-hand assistant coach Todd Reirden will assist with Team USA, as will Penguins video coach Andy Saucier.
“It is an extremely exciting day for myself and my family. I am so honored to be given this opportunity,” Reirden said. “Any chance you to represent your country is one you don’t take lightly. And it’s a very special moment.”
Sullivan and the other coaches, Reirden, Saucier, former New York Rangers coach (and Sullivan’s close friend from Boston U) David Quinn, and recently retired goalie Ryan Miller have known about the appointments for about a month. Reirden admitted they’ve been watching the players’ negotiations anticipating the official announcement.
The coaches met last week to begin Team USA preparations.
Not only are the coaches previously associated with Sullivan, Team USA assistant GM Bill Guerin was the Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM until taking the Minnesota Wild GM position in 2019.
Saucier, of course, is famous for catching offside infractions even when not visible to the naked eye. A few playoff goals were overturned under Saucier’s watchful eyes.
Reirden will run the defensemen for Team USA, which will also include defending against players such Pittsburgh Penguins stars Sidney Crosby (Canada) and Evgeni Malkin (Russia).
“it goes to another level when you’re talking about playing for your country…I know it’s going to be a challenge coaching against those guys,” said Reirden. “We’re so fortunate to have those guys here in Pittsburgh. I didn’t like it in the past when I had to coach against them, and I won’t like it in Beijing, but I’m so fortunate to be given that opportunity.”
From the Pittsburgh Penguins release:
In addition to Reirden, Sullivan named Nashville Predators head coach John Hynes, former New York Rangers head coach David Quinn and recently retired 18-year NHL veteran Ryan Miller as assistant coaches.
Five members of the U.S. Olympic Team’s staff have Penguins connections, including Sullivan, Reirden, Saucier, Hynes (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins assistant coach, 2009-10; head coach, ’10-15) and Team USA’s assistant general manager Bill Guerin (player, 2009-10; development coach, ’11-14; assistant general manager, ’14-19).
This will be Reirden’s first time representing the United States on the international stage at any level, while this is Saucier’s second trip to the Olympics after serving as Team USA’s video coordinator in 2014.
Reirden, 50, is entering his sixth season overall in the Penguins organization, serving as an assistant coach from 2010-14 and 2020-present. Between his two stints in Pittsburgh, Reirden spent six seasons on the Washington Capitals coaching staff, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2018. The Deerfield, Illinois native served as Washington’s assistant coach from 2014-16, associate coach from 2016-18, and head coach from 2018-20.
Before making the jump to the NHL with Pittsburgh in 2010, Reirden spent three years with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League from 2008-10, serving as both an assistant coach and head coach.
Saucier, 35, is entering his 10th season as Pittsburgh’s video coach in 2021-22. Before his tenure in Pittsburgh, the Waterville, Maine native was the WBS Penguins’ video coach from 2010-12.