The Pittsburgh Penguins will be making massive changes to Mike Sullivan’s staff for the 2020-2021 season and potentially beyond. They announced yesterday morning that Mark Recchi, Jacques Martin, and Sergei Gonchar will all not be brought back as all of their contracts expired.
Recchi isn’t much of a surprise as the Penguins power play struggled much of the season. Martin will be picked up by somebody, but he is getting older at 67.
As for Gonchar, he was the biggest shock of the three. I thought he was maybe going to stay and maybe take over for the power play positioning, but it was not meant to be.
Now the question becomes, who will take over the assistant spots? I think Peter Laviolette or Gerard Gallant could be the new power play coach next season. Laviolette was fired as the head coach of the Nashville Predators earlier in the season. Gallant was fired as the head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights earlier in the season. Another potential replacement behind the bench is Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Head Coach Mike Velluci (AHL).
General Manager Jim 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, ‘We are not rebuilding, we are retooling.’”
Head Coach Mike Sullivan also spoke to the media on Wednesday saying, “This is a difficult day for me, more difficult than you can imagine. I know how hard these guys work. We’ve been through a lot together. These guys are good coaches and they’re my friends. When teams like ours don’t have good success, changes are inevitable. We have to take responsibility for it and it starts with me.”
There will also be player personnel changes coming to the Penguins. In my previous article I covered some of possible player changes that could be coming for next season from trades to free agents.
Some of the guys that won’t be traded are Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, and Sidney Crosby. General Manager Jim Rutherford has already made that clear. Head Coach Mike Sullivan wants a younger and quicker team next season. It should be interesting to watch the changes that are made in the offseason!