<
>

Penguins, coach Mike Sullivan reach three-year extension

The Pittsburgh Penguins and coach Mike Sullivan have agreed on a three-year contract extension through the 2019-20 season, the team announced Monday.

Sullivan, 48, took over the job after Mike Johnston was fired on Dec. 15, 2015. Under Sullivan, the Penguins posted a 33-16-5 record last season and won the 2016 Stanley Cup.

"Mike did the best coaching job in the NHL last season," GM Jim Rutherford said in a team statement. "He continues to be a terrific coach and we are happy to give him a well-deserved extension."

Sullivan told ESPN that he's thrilled to know the organization has confidence in him.

"We've got a great group of players here," he said. "They're a privilege to coach. We push them extremely hard but it's only because we think they are capable of great things. Our coaching staff is very appreciative that they are receptive to our message and how hard we push them. It's an indication of how much they care and how much they want to win."

The Penguins are 55-24-10 during Sullivan's tenure. Pittsburgh has gone 85 consecutive games without back-to-back regulation losses with Sullivan on the bench.

Sullivan said the contract talks went smoothly. "Obviously, our priority has been trying to win games and that's been our main focus," he said. "I'm grateful to Jim that he's made it a priority to show the confidence that he has in me and our coaching staff. I'm grateful to Jim, the management team and the ownership group."

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who is widely considered the best player in the world, has thrived under Sullivan's direction. Pittsburgh has become a strong two-way team with depth and solid goaltending. Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who recently became the first American-born coach to win 500 NHL games, recently said he believes Sullivan, who was his longtime assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks, is the best American-born coach in the game.

Sullivan also served as head coach of the Boston Bruins from 2003 to '06.