NHL Notebook: Could Jon Cooper and Mike Sullivan enter the coaching carousel?

Tampa Bay Lightning Pittsburgh Penguins
Photo credit:James Guillory (L) & Brad Penner (R) - USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
4 days ago
Every year, there are always a few surprises in the NHL coaching carousel, typically involving teams letting go of coaches many wouldn’t expect.
Sometimes, they’re swift firings, and sometimes, they’re ones that come out of left field. But almost every year, there’s one big-name coach who doesn’t return to their team.
While the carousel has spun with the Kraken’s Dave Hakstol being the 17th head coach to lose their job since the end of last season, there could be even more movement in the coming weeks as teams fall out of the playoff race.
This year, there could be a few interesting names that join the mix in the two longest-serving bench bosses in the league: the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Jon Cooper and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Mike Sullivan, according to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli.
Seravalli’s report came during Tuesday’s episode of Daily Faceoff LIVE, where he spoke about a power struggle in Pittsburgh that could lead to changes:
Let me throw in two potential openings: Jon Cooper in Tampa, and there’s speculation as to whether Mike Sullivan stays in Pittsburgh. It’s my understanding that there’s a bit of a power struggle between Kyle Dubas and Sullivan, in that Dubas would like to make some adjustments to the assistants and Sullivan has been resistant to that.
There could be as many as 10 openings, and when you look at some of the names who are available, that’s the enticing part. There’s no shortage of really good coaches: Craig Berube, Todd McLellan, Jay Woodcroft, can someone convince David Carle to leave Colorado?
There’s all sorts of quality candidates that are out there.
Cooper has been with the Lightning since March 2013. He has amassed a 525-279-75 regular-season record and helped them make the playoffs in all but one season. He has turned the franchise around from a struggling team to a constant contender, winning back-to-back Stanley Cups with the team in 2020 and 2021.
Sullivan, meanwhile, has been with the Penguins since Dec. 12, 2015, putting together a 375-219-77 record. While the Penguins had been perennial contenders for years, Sullivan took over from Mike Johnston amid a time when the team was on a downswing. He lifted that 2015-16 team to a Stanley Cup title that year, something they were able to repeat 12 months later.
Both franchises have been among the most successful in the league under each of their tutelages. Since the start of the 2014-15 season, the Lightning’s .647 points percentage ranks second among all teams, while the Penguins’ .613 ranks fifth.
It would almost be hard to imagine different coaches behind either of these benches. In terms of games coached with a single franchise, Cooper’s 879 games rank ninth all-time, while Sullivan’s 671 rank 22nd.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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