Imagine calling for the firing of the coach that led your team to two straight Stanley Cup victories.
That's exactly what some Pittsburgh Penguins fans have been doing after their series sweep at the hands of the New York Islanders. Many fans took their frustration out on Sullivan due to his lack of adaptability and line combos during the four game series.
I cannot fathom the idea of firing a guy who won you back to back Stanley Cups a mere two years ago. I would go as far as to file it under asinine. Are you planning to fire the head coach every year you don’t win a Stanley Cup?— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) April 17, 2019
The blame extends much further than just Sullivan and his roster choices.
In Game 4, Sullivan shook up his lines by putting Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel back together on the second line while Sidney Crosby, Jared McCann and Jake Guentzel took the top unit duties. Perhaps the blame should be on Guentzel or Crosby who both went pointless until Game 4.
If anyone should be fired it's Mike Sullivan. He made the decision to play Matt Murray, he made the decision to play Johnson instead of Maatta, and he waited until game 4 to put McCann back on the top line. His favoritism for certain players hurt the pens in the long run.— Eleanor Ciampi (@ellehockeymaven) April 17, 2019
Matt Murray was far from consistent, logging a 3.02 GAA and .906 save percentage in the series. Jack Johnson has lived up to expectations as one of the worst free agent signings this past offseason.
Mike Sullivan should be fired. There's no reason to have all of these god-tier players and get swept by the Islanders. Fuck it... GO ISLANDERS— 蒸気神 A-Shizzle BFC (@notalexemmons) April 17, 2019
And there's more.
When Mike Sullivan is fired, Jacques Martin should be promoted to replace him. I’ve been saying this since Bylsma was fired. #sullivanout— Harry Harman (@hbharman) April 17, 2019
Fingers can be pointed every which way but the fact of the matter is that the Penguins collectively didn't show up for four straight contests, not just Sullivan.
Evgeni Malkin had some interesting comments on this team, as well as Mike Sullivan's system and Jim Rutherford's construction of the roster going forward. Read/hear what he said via @937theFan. https://t.co/GXvvyyDz1N— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) April 17, 2019
The Islanders were simply the better team and far more defensively responsible throughout the series.
There's a reason why Barry Trotz is one of the winningest coaches in NHL history. His system works impeccably, especially when backed by strong goaltending. Sullivan may not be as good as Trotz, but he's shown time and time again that he's the right fit in Pittsburgh. One series sweep does not warrant his firing.