In the middle of a scrimmage-style drill Monday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan stopped things abruptly and lit into the players.
His booming voice had the unmistakable tone of agitation, although with the acoustics in the rink it was impossible to say for sure what he said for those not on the bench. Except for the explosive four-letter word he used at the end of the harangue.
It seemed to be about playing smarter.
“I just want us to execute better,” Sullivan said after practice. “I have higher expectations of our guys. They’re good players, and I think sometimes … we don’t want hope to be part of our strategy. And that’s what I told them.
“If we’ve got to hope to connect on a pass, we’re better off not making the pass. Sometimes the best play is no play, keeping the puck in the safe part of the ice and not trying to do something that puts us in vulnerable positions.
“I thought we did a lot of hoping in that particular drill, and that was the message.”
Practice then resumed.