Peter Laviolette vs Mike Sullivan

When Jim Rutherford fired Mike Johnston and promoted Mike Sullivan from AHL coach to the Penguins new bench boss, one thing that swayed Rutherford to promote Sullivan was how he saw some Peter Laviolette in him.

“Mike really is a demanding and take-control guy. In some ways — I actually hate to this, but it’s my mind now, so I’ll do it, he reminds me of a coach that I had a lot of success with, Peter Laviolette.” Jim Rutherford on December 13, 2015

A year and a half later, the two coaches are now squaring off in the Stanley Cup Final and there are a ton of similarities between the two.

Laviolette and Sullivan are very demanding coaches but they don’t suffocate their players. Both coaches embrace a fast, skilled game, while installing discipline defensively, and each have a great feel on how to handle talented players and get the most out of them.

Laviolette a one-time Stanley Cup winner in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes, will be in his third Stanley Cup appearance and in Philadelphia there is obvious second guessing going on with Laviolette taking a 16th seed to the Cup Final.

For Mike Sullivan, yeah he might coach Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but he’s emerged as one of the best coaches in hockey. This run since last spring has been more than just having a ton of high-end talent. Last season I felt he did the greatest coaching job in Penguins history and this one hasn’t been too bad either so far in how the Penguins have adapted all postseason. The coaching staff here plays a big part in why the Penguins are so hard to beat four out of seven times in a series.

Who knows what would have happened if Jim Rutherford wasn’t willing to admit a major mistake of hiring Mike Johnson and fired Johnston when he did and Sullivan being elevated to head coach almost didn’t happen.

Rutherford came very close to hiring RTo read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!