While the Capitals get ready to take the ice for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the New York Islanders, their rivals continue to have a rough week.
Pittsburgh let three assistant coaches go after failing to qualify for the playoffs after losing in four games to Montreal in the qualifying round. The move adds to an already miserable week for Penguins fans.
To recap: Sidney Crosby and company fell flat in a 2-0 Game 4 loss to the Canadiens last Friday, missed out on a decent draft slot in the lottery on Monday, and now this.
The assistant coaches -- Mark Recchi, former Capitals defenseman Sergei Gonchar and Jacques Martin -- had their contracts expire in June, but were extended into the qualifying rounds under the extentuating circumstances. In a team statement, Pittsburgh General Manager Jim Rutherford cited underperforming in the playoffs the past few years as the reason for the major shakeup.
Head coach Mike Sullivan remains at the helm of the Penguins following a disappoiting 2019-20 season. Sullivan was hired Dec. 12, 2015 and became just the sixth coach in NHL history to win a Stanley Cup after being brought in midseason. Then he went out and won another. Those 2016 and 2017 champions, of course, both came at the expense of the Caps with second-round playoff wins.
But Washington won its first title the next year at Pittsburgh's expense in the second round and the Penguins lost in the first round of the 2019 playoffs to the New York Islanders. As Pittsburgh's window to win another title with its Crosby-Evgeni Malkin core dwindles, Capitals fans will take some glee that their team remains alive and has a chance to add a second Cup.
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