Latest Penguins Buzz

Insider Only Latest Pens Buzz: Fenway Group prioritized making Mike Sullivan NHL’s Highest Paid Coach

What was behind the Mike Sullivan Extension?

The Penguins last Tuesday signed head coach Mike Sullivan to a three year contract extension. The move was brought with a lot of why now?

When a new ownership group takes over, they often look to flex their muscles and eventually bring in their own people. With the Fenway Group that’s analytically obsessed, it’s actually become the exact obvious as the group has been on the job for a little bit less than a year.

They’ve prioritized continuity and maintaining legacies for a franchise that has won Three Stanley Cups and reached the post-season 16 straight seasons.

From the first day Mike Sullivan met with the Fenway Group in person, they’ve felt Sullivan was a rock star in the profession. A source described the Boston based group as believing Pittsburgh has a Bill Belichick type coach behind the bench in Sullivan and they felt it was right to make Sullivan the highest paid coach in the game with his new extension, a source indicated.

Rightfully so, Sullivan is universally regarded as one of the NHL’s top head coaches. He has two years left on his current contract with a salary of Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

The new deal is believed pay Sullivan around $6 Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

That’s an eternity in the National Hockey League for a hockey coach who’s already been in one place for eight seasons now and hasn’t won a playoff series since 2018.


— Former Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford became increasingly frustrated in his last season or so at the helm with the Lemieux Group not willing to bend on signing bonuses for free agents but specifically players Rutherford had targeted in trades. Rutherford, according to two high ranking sources, had a deal in place for a forward with term/signing bonuses committed in January 2021 that was blocked by Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

Fast forward to the ownership change and the Fenway Group made it clear to Ron Hextall and Brian Burke from the start that the check book was open to become more aggressive to structuring deals with signing bonuses to secure committments. The Penguins are not becoming the Toronto Maple Leafs in that direction but they’re certainly become more of a player in that area.

Pittsburgh taking on $5 million in signing bonuses due to Jeff Petry for the next two seasons might not seem like much, but even that deal would not have been a slam dunk in getting approval from the previous ownership group.


— While Mike Sullivan has been regarded as being the second most powerful person in the organization behind Sidney Crosby, it’s not a stretch that B Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

Comments Disabled

Comments have been disabled for this post.