Mike Sullivan during his time with the New York Rangers was reportedly more hated among players than John Tortorella and it sure sounds like he didn’t make many friends during his one year in Vancouver.

Sullivan might end up being that same guy before it’s all said and done but he’s proven during his stint so far in Pittsburgh the importance of having a good feel of his team. There’s been little to no throwing players under the bus through the media and he’s often protected players.

Sullivan’s comments about Ian Cole after Sunday’s game vs Buffalo was telling.

“I thought Ian was solid,” Sullivan said told reporters. “He kept his game simple. I think he’s good on the penalty kill. He’s a good shot blocker. He was solid down low. I thought he brought a lot to the table for us.”

The Penguins knew on Sunday that Ben Lovejoy was likely going to be out long-term with a shoulder injury and it was smart for Sullivan to talk up a player who he just recently made a healthy scratch for 11 games and could be a little fragile mentally.

With Lovejoy’s injury, the Penguins have just one right handed defenseman among their top-6 but Pittsburgh doesn’t feel a great incentive to go out and get a right handed defenseman like they did last season with the blunder of trading Simon Despres for Lovejoy.

Having five lefties is not seen as a big deal in the organization. The trade market is also slim pickings among right handed d-men.

Among other reasons for being comfortable with five lefties is Trevor Daley being better on the right side and Ian Cole’s experience of playing the right side also helps the situation.

“He’s [Ian Cole] played the right side a number of times,” Sullivan said today. “He played it a lot when he was in St. Louis. Him and I had that conversation and he’s comfortable playing the right side.”

The Penguins list of trade targets among defensemen are mostly lefties and Pittsburgh is exploring rental and long-term options.

Where the Penguins would like to replace Lovejoy is with a shot blocker.

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