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Penguins sign Mike Sullivan to long contract extension

AP

Mike Sullivan is sticking around to see if he can get the Pittsburgh Penguins back to the Stanley Cup.

The coach whose arrival in the winter of 2015 helped propel the Penguins to championships in 2016 and 2017 agreed to a four-contract extension on Friday that runs through the 2023-24 season. The terms of the new deal will kick in when Sullivan’s current contract expires at the end of the upcoming season.

Sullivan was entering the final year of a three-year contract he signed in December 2016. The extension provides the fiery 51-year-old a sense of relief and also plenty of time to help Pittsburgh retool after getting swept by the New York Islanders in the first round of the 2019 playoffs. Sullivan said he “never really considered” testing free agency next summer.

“I just knew I wanted to be the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins,” said Sullivan, who is 174-92-34 with Pittsburgh.

The extension is a lucrative vote of confidence from Pittsburgh general manager Jim Rutherford, who expressed concern about the need for a culture change inside the dressing room after the Penguins slogged through much of 2018-19 before the earliest playoff exit of the Sidney Crosby era. Rutherford made it a point to place the onus for making the change on the players and not Sullivan.