6 month turnaround.
Statistically out of the running in December, 2015, the Pittsburgh Penguins hopes of returning the cup to the Consol Energy Center were in tatters. Rutherford makes some changes. Tweaks the coaching and boom. Here we are June 13th writing about the Pittsburgh Penguins winning the holy grail.
The appointment of Mike Sullivan speaks volumes of the change cycle in the current day NHL. Sullivan is a champion. Boston University, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks - wherever he went he competed. In over 700 games at the top level as a player he was best known for his penalty killing prowess.
Pittsburgh's penalty kill posted up 85.1% success ratio this post-season. Even more impressive when they lined up against Washington (3rd in league on the PP 26%) and San Jose (5th in league 24%).
The injection of Sheary, Rust, Daley, Murray, Hagelin, Kessel, Bonino are all master strokes that the back office have dealt with impressively. But, the buck lies with Sullivan.
The Penguins are champs because for the first time in recent NHL seasons the coach has relied on his skills than those in the group. He's changed it up when he's needed to. Made big decisions (Keeping Marc-Andre Fleury out of the net).
Well done the Pittsburgh Penguins. What a turnaround.
Everyone here at Snipetown wishes Trevor Daley's mother a speedy recovery and Pascal Dupuis a restful retirement. Two guys who embody what it is to be a hockey player. We salute.
Photo - via SCMP.