Sullivan’s Stubbornness Has Got to Stop

Penguins (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Penguins (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Don’t get me wrong, Mike Sullivan is a great hockey coach. This year though, his stubbornness is getting in the way of the Penguins’ victories.  Let’s get straight to it.

Sullivan has always been a coach who has his guys, and sticks by them (no pun intended). For the most part, that has worked for him since becoming the head coach of the Pens in 2015. Guys like Matt Murray, Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, and Tom Kuhnhackl all were part of the Pens AHL affiliate the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, who Sullivan coached. These guys were all part of the team that hoisted the Stanley Cup Trophy two years in a row in 2016 and 2017.

The best part about those Pens’ teams wasn’t the star power of Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. No, no, no. The best part was the grinders.

I’m talking about 3rd and 4th line guys that didn’t fly under the radar. Every Pens fan across the globe could name the team’s entire 3rd and 4th lines during that time. Now, even if one could name the bottom six guys, I’m not so sure they’d be excited about it.

Ok, the acquisition of players from then to now isn’t Mike Sullivan’s fault, but the lack of young players getting a chance to play is. The NHL is a young, fast-paced league right now, and the Penguins need to follow suit.

To illustrate this, let’s look at some of the Pens who have struggled so far this season. One of the names that’s popping up is Jeff Carter. Carter only has 6 points in his last 26 games played. Wilkes-Barre Scranton’s youthful centers Drake Caggiula and Filip Hallander can’t be worse than Carter this season.

Oh, I’m not done. There are more young players not getting their chance to shine as well.  Fast skaters like Valtteri Puustinen, Alexander Nylander, and Drew O’Connor are also not getting their moment when they should be.

By the way, every single one of the aforementioned players is at least 10 years younger than Jeff Carter.

The bottom line is that the Penguins need a spark in their bottom six, and it can happen by calling some of these guys from the AHL up.

The good news is that there’s a lot of hockey left to be played this season. The bad news is, I’m not confident in Mike Sullivan’s stubbornness stopping.