Mike Sullivan: Sidney Crosby would make a 'terrific coach'

Ailish Forfar
·NHL Editor
·4 min read
SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 8: A fan has a message for Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins while he chats with Assistant Coach Mark Recchi during a break in the action against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on February 8, 2020 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan believes Sidney Crosby would be a 'terrific coach' one day. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the NHL on an indefinite pause due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, coaches and players are doing a variety of radio spots under self-isolation to pass the time. Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan joined Sportsnet 590’s “Hockey Central” on Wednesday where he spoke highly about a potential future career move captain Sidney Crosby could take upon retirement, whenever that may be.

“I could see him staying involved in the game in some capacity, because he loves it so much, he has such a passion for it,” Sullivan said.

“If he wanted to be a coach, I think he would be a terrific coach because he’s such a student of the game. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit when Sid’s done playing the game, somewhere down the line — and I don’t see that happening any time soon because he loves the game as much as he does — but I could for sure see him staying involved in the game in some capacity.”

Making sure to emphasize “somewhere down the line,” as we’re in absolutely no rush to see one of the greatest hockey players of this generation hang up the skates for good, it’s an interesting possibility to say the least. Crosby has notoriously been praised for being a student of the game, and Sullivan touched on what he brings to the team off the ice.

“I learn as much about the game from him as he does from us. I’m always fascinated by his insights, whether it be in some of our video meetings when we talk about the power play or when we pre-scout our opponents, trying to exploit what he sees out there. It’s always fascinating to have those conversations with him. He’s just really invested in all the different aspects of the game.”

The three-time Stanley Cup champion was chosen as one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players of all time in 2017. Crosby was the Penguins’ No.1 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft and has 1,263 points in 984 regular-season games, ranking second in franchise history in goals, assists and points behind mentor Mario Lemieux.

“He, for me, epitomizes an athlete that controls everything within his power to be his very best. So, when you have a guy like that on your team, and he’s the captain, and he’s the best player in the game, it certainly makes the coach’s job a whole lot easier as far as trying to set a certain level of accountability. But he’s fun to coach.”

Before the league suspended operations on March 12, the Penguins slid to third place in the Metropolitan Division after the Philadelphia Flyers hopped over them with a seven-game winning streak.

[Related: The best NHL storylines on hold due to COVID-19 pandemic]

When asked about the team’s current state surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, Sullivan stressed the organization is focused on the health and well-being of the team and their families first and foremost.

"We're trying to do everything we can under difficult circumstances to try and stay prepared," Sullivan said. "I know our strength coaches have had personal conversations with every guy and taken an inventory of what they have at their disposal in their respective homes and then building individual programs for these guys that they can continue to do on a daily basis to try to stay fit and keep themselves ready in the event that we get on the other side of this.”

[Related: NHL provides clearance to players wishing to return home amid COVID-19 outbreak]

The first confirmed case of the COVID-19 infection in the NHL was officially announced Tuesday night, with the Ottawa Senators revealing that an unnamed player had tested positive and was receiving treatment for their symptoms in isolation.

“The virus’s impact on our community was inevitable to a certain extent,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told LeBrun. “It was really just a matter of time until we were going to have our first player test positive.”

The same preventative steps most leagues are taking, most importantly self-quarantining, remains the course of action the NHL is taking when treating the ill and preventing the spread of the disease.

The NHL has not spoken officially on how it may approach the rest of the 2019-20 season, but the proposed solution discussed most often seems to be a 20 or 24-team tournament that will begin with a play-in round to establish seeding for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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