Penguins coach Mike Sullivan takes leave after father’s death |
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Jonathan Bombulie
Pittsburgh Penguins’ coach Mike Sullivan instructs Riley Sheahan on the bench during their game against the Capitals inside of PPG Paints Arena on May 3, 2018.

Coach Mike Sullivan will take a leave of absence from the Penguins for a few days after the death of father Saturday, the team announced. George Sullivan was 81.

Assistant coach Mark Recchi said he fondly remembered celebrating Stanley Cup championships with George Sullivan in 2016 and 2017.

“He loved the fact that he got to be part of winning two Stanley Cups,” Recchi said. “He was still doing pretty well then and was able to really enjoy it. I just remember sitting on a deck out in Sewickley with him, smoking cigars, and he was just loving life. He was very proud of Sully, obviously.”

“I still keep pinching myself to make sure it’s real,” George Sullivan told on his son’s day with the Stanley Cup in Boston in 2016. “I’ve been his biggest fan all his life and I couldn’t understand how he wasn’t a head coach someplace. Finally, it worked out for him. He’s a hard-working kid. He got what he deserved.”

Assistant coach Jacques Martin will oversee training camp in Sullivan’s absence. Martin has been a head coach for parts of 17 NHL seasons with St. Louis, Ottawa, Florida and Montreal.

“When you’ve got Jacques, he’s Mr. Organized. He’s an organized as you get,” Recchi said. “We’ll handle the load until he gets back. It’s obviously a very tough time for him. We’ll do what we have to do and we’ll make sure things run like he would like them run and we’ll keep the machine rolling.”

The team’s release noted the Sullivan family would like to thank the Cardigan Nursing Home in Scituate, Mass., for the care George Sullivan received. Sullivan’s mother, Myrna, died in 2015.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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