Mike Sullivan Talks Optimistically About Jake Guentzel

"It's Reasonable To Think We Will Get Him Back"

Eric Hagman
March 31, 2020 - 5:16 pm
Mike Sullivan

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh (93.7 The Fan) - Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Tuesday he's probably decided on his starting goaltender for the team's next game, and reporters will be informed on game day. It was a lighthearted moment during a time of great concern and uncertainty as Sullivan spoke with the media for the first time since the Penguins scheduled game in Columbus was called off nearly three weeks ago.

When Sullivan gets to coach again is an unknown.

"It's difficult because of the uncertainty," Sullivan said. " There's really no timeline at this point so it's hard because of the lack of clarity to do any sort of preparation for a return to play scenario."

Sullivan has been in constant contact with General Manager Jim Rutherford, the players and the training staff.  He shares Rutherford's optimism about a Jake Guentzel return if the season resumes.

"It's reasonable to think that we would get him back," Sullivan said.  "We're excited about that potential opportunity, and knowing Jake the way we know him he's a real competitive kid."

Sullivan said it's no secret that Guentzel in the lineup makes the Penguins a better team.

"I think it makes us a whole lot more difficult to play against," Sullivan said. "I think it makes our top six stronger.  I think it strengthens our bottom six by nature of having a little bit more depth.  There are a lot of positive things with the potential return."

Guentzel had just been named an all-star when he suffered the serious shoulder injury Dec. 30.  The prognosis was he would be sidelined 4-6 months.

Sullivan also spoke glowingly of his captain Sidney Crosby.

"When I look at our team and how it operates, Sid sets the standard on and off the ice.  I know how hard he's working to keep himself ready.  He's talking to his teammates on a consistent basis to make sure they're ready. He's the standard-bearer."

Sullivan also was quick to praise those directly dealing with the crisis.

"I just want to thank the medical teams, the doctors and nurse, the first responders, the law enforcement and fire departments, all the people that are on the front lines that are helping to fight this battle and help everyone.  You guys are our real heroes and we really appreciate what you guys are doing at this particular time.  I think it's real important that we do our part."



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