Sullivan promoted to Pittsburgh

Mike Sullivan has been named head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was announced today by general manager Jim Rutherford.

Sullivan replaces Mike Johnston, who was relieved of his duties earlier today. Assistant coach Gary Agnew also was relieved of his duties. Jay Leach has been named interim head coach in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Sullivan, 47, was in his first season as head coach of the Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, leading his team to a league-best 18-5-0-0 record.

The Marshfield, Mass., native was head coach of the Boston Bruins from 2003-06 and was an NHL assistant coach for eight seasons with the Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. He spent the 2014-15 season as player development coach for the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Sullivan will be joined on the bench by assistant coaches Rick Tocchet and Jacques Martin when he makes his Pittsburgh debut Monday night against the Washington Capitals at CONSOL Energy Center.

Leach, 36, is in his first year as a coach in North America after one season as an assistant with Alder Mannheim (Germany), helping the team to a Deutsche Eishockey Liga championship.

For tonight’s game vs. Albany, Leach will be joined on the bench by Pittsburgh Penguins player development coach Mark Recchi.

Leach played 499 games as a defenseman in the AHL over his 12-year professional career with Springfield, Providence, Bridgeport, Norfolk, Portland, Lowell/Albany and Worcester. He also appeared in 70 NHL games with Boston, Tampa Bay, New Jersey, Montreal and San Jose.

“Mike Sullivan has been a head coach and an assistant coach in the NHL and we’ve been very fortunate to have him with our AHL club this season," said Rutherford. “He’s done an outstanding job in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and he’s ready to step in.”

Sullivan played more than 700 NHL games over 11 seasons with the San Jose Sharks, Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes. He was named head coach of the AHL’s Providence Bruins immediately after retiring as a player in 2002 and led Providence to a 41-17-9-4 in 71 games before being promoted to an assistant coaching role in Boston late that season.

Sullivan becomes the fourth former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach currently running a bench in the National Hockey League, joining Montreal’s Michel Therrien (2003-05) and Buffalo’s Dan Bylsma (2008-09) and New Jersey’s John Hynes (2010-15). In addition, Minnesota’s Mike Yeo was an assistant coach in Wilkes-Barre from 2000 to 2005.

Twenty-two NHL teams are now being led by former AHL head coaches:

NHL TeamHead CoachAHL Teams
AnaheimBruce BoudreauLowell, Manchester, Hershey
BostonClaude JulienHamilton
BuffaloDan BylsmaW-B/Scranton
CalgaryBob HartleyCornwall, Hershey
CarolinaBill PetersRockford
ChicagoJoel QuennevilleSpringfield
ColumbusJohn TortorellaRochester
DetroitJeff BlashillGrand Rapids
EdmontonTodd McLellanHouston
MinnesotaMike YeoHouston
MontrealMichel TherrienFredericton, Quebec, W-B/Scranton
NashvillePeter LavioletteProvidence
New JerseyJohn HynesW-B/Scranton
N.Y. IslandersJack CapuanoBridgeport
N.Y. RangersAlain VigneaultManitoba
OttawaDave CameronBinghamton
PittsburghMike SullivanProvidence, W-B/Scranton
Tampa BayJon CooperNorfolk, Syracuse
TorontoMike BabcockCincinnati
VancouverWillie DesjardinsTexas
WashingtonBarry TrotzBaltimore, Portland
WinnipegPaul MauriceToronto