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Mike Sullivan could leave the Penguins to join the Devils
Credit: Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

We’re at a time of year when the coaching waltz can be significant. After all, it’s easier to change coaches in the off-season than during the campaign.

At the same time, I say this knowing full well that there have been many changes during the 2023-2024 season.

The Blue Jackets (at camp, not in season), Oilers, Wild, Blues, Senators, Islanders, Kings, and Devils all changed coaches in season this year.

(Credit: Wikipedia)
The Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks also said goodbye to their coaches, but did so once the season was over. The same goes for the Senators (Jacques Martin), but that was expected.

The Sabres (re)hired Lindy Ruff, officially leaving the Sharks and Sens as the only NHL teams looking for someone to run their bench.

But in reality, it’s more complicated than that.

The Devils, Kings and Blues all have interim coaches. Will the incumbent stay on? Will there be a change? That remains to be seen.

But you also have to consider the clubs that could change coaches. The first name that springs to mind is Sheldon Keefe in Toronto.

I really wouldn’t be surprised if, a year after his arrival and following a painful elimination (to come), Brad Treliving is keen to bring in his man to change the group dynamic – and that’s even if Keefe is a class act.


But could the coaching waltz be bigger than we think? Could another team have to look for another pilot?

Note that I said “have to look for another pilot” without talking about dismissal, since it’s not impossible to think that the Penguins might have to deal with the fact that Mike Sullivan might want to leave.

Why would that be? Because, according to Nick Kypreos (contributor to the Toronto Sun) and as reported by the TSLH site, the rumours linking Sullivan to the New Jersey Devils are big right now.

This is probably what Kevin Weekes is talking about when he refers to the coaching merry-go-round in the NHL and the fact that “the most coveted of them all” would be in play.

What you need to know is that Sullivan, who has been here since the Penguins’ last two Stanley Cup Final victories, still has a valid three-year contract at $5.5 million per season, according to Cap Friendly.

Would the Devils go after the contract via trade, if that’s the desire of the principal interested party? Perhaps they would.

It’s worth noting that a bond of trust exists between Devils boss Tom Fitzgerald and Sullivan, who managed Fitzgerald in Boston in 2005-2006.

What’s more, the rumour is in the air that the Penguins coach isn’t sold on Kyle Dubas’ plan to get the Penguins back on the winning track.

I wonder if the Penguins would give Sullivan what he wants, in such a case. After all, the Devils are still a division rival, let’s face it.

I imagine that if this were to happen and Sullivan were to develop a bond of trust with Jake Allen, Kent Hughes wouldn’t be unhappy…

Two final thoughts. Would Kyle Dubas go after Sheldon Keefe to lead the Penguins, should the position open up? After all, Keefe is likely to jump to Toronto and Dubas has a lot of faith in Keefe.

More importantly, what does Sidney Crosby think of the whole situation?

In a gaggle

– A name to keep an eye on.

– Logical.

– Steven Stamkos in Montreal: would you like to? [TSN 690]

– Would you?

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