The Pittsburgh Penguins have made sweeping changes to their coaching staff, though Mike Sullivan remains. Sergei Gonchar, Jacques Martin and Mark Recchi, all assistants with the team, will not have their contracts renewed. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford released a statement explaining the decision to fans:
We are in the process of conducting a review of our organization because we have underperformed in the playoffs the last few years. 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.’
Sullivan has escaped the executioner for now, but after Rutherford’s comments yesterday about how much change is needed in Pittsburgh you can bet his seat will feel like the surface of the sun in 2020-21.
Gonchar’s departure may be the most surprising, given his close relationship with Evgeni Malkin and history with the franchise. The former NHL defenseman won a Stanley Cup with the club in 2009 and has been with the organization since his retirement in 2015. Gonchar played in more than 1,300 career NHL games and will likely find work before long if he wants it.
In fact, all three coaches have incredible resumes and will likely be snapped up by teams around the league. Martin joined the organization in 2013 after decades of head coaching experience and has been part of championships at basically every level and tournament. Recchi, a Hall of Fame player and sixth on the all-time games played list, could also find himself in a new position quickly. Darren Dreger of TSN suggests that the five-time Stanley Cup winner (three times as a player and twice as a coach) could even move into a management position.