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Penguins notebook: Mike Sullivan takes leave after death of father

Tribune-Review
| Saturday, September 15, 2018 7:42 p.m
228263sullivan
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan during practice Sunday, May 28, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.

Coach Mike Sullivan will take a leave of absence from the Penguins for a few days after the death of his 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 ‘17.

“He was still doing pretty well then and was able to really enjoy it,” Recchi said. “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.”

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.”

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.

Dangerous scrimmage

On the second day of Penguins training camp Saturday, things got dangerous.

Evgeni Malkin took an accidental high-stick from Matt Cullen, and Zach Aston-Reese took a puck to the face during the day’s intrasquad scrimmage. Both finished the scrimmage and seemed none the worse for wear.

For Malkin, the high-stick was exceedingly frustrating because he also took a stick to the face during an informal practice last Tuesday. Cullen apologized profusely once Malkin returned to the ice.

Aston-Reese, meanwhile, skated in front of a high Kris Letang clear that caught him under his visor.

Aston-Reese suffered a concussion and a broken jaw when he was leveled by an illegal Tom Wilson hit in last year’s playoffs, so the errant puck was a potentially serious situation.

Aston-Reese said the puck didn’t leave him rattled, though, which has to be considered a positive sign in his recovery.

“If anything, I’d have a cool black eye, I thought,” Aston-Reese said. “I think it got me in the visor. It wasn’t a hard shot or anything.”

Grueling for goalies

On the first few days of training camp, it’s easy to see the physical toll conditioning drills take on skaters, who drag themselves around the ice as they finish grueling exercises.

Even though some of their teammates might be skeptical, goalies are going through the same type of agony, Matt Murray insisted Saturday.

“Oh yeah. It may not look like much from the outside because as everybody likes to say, we’re just standing there the whole time, but it’s a lot of work,” Murray said.

In the past, goalies often participated in the same drills as skaters, albeit at a much slower pace because of their equipment. Not anymore.

“They get mad at us because they have to wait for us when they skate the laps, so we don’t even make us skate laps anymore,” Murray said. “We just come off and do a bike or something like that.”

Notes

Ryan Haggerty, a winger on an AHL deal, scored from the right faceoff circle with 11.4 seconds left for the only goal of the intrasquad scrimmage. Tristan Jarry and Anthony Peters split the shutout. … Recchi said Riley Sheahan (lower-body injury) and Derick Brassard (illness) are making progress toward a return to the ice. AHL defenseman Joseph Masonious is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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