By Ian Oland
Todd Reirden is staying in the Metropolitan Division and returning to the Washington Capitals’ biggest rival.
Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they hired Reirden back to be an assistant coach again – this time under Mike Sullivan. Reirden will be in charge of the team’s defensive group and power-play unit.
The Penguins have named Todd Reirden and Mike Vellucci assistant coaches.
Reirden, 49, will oversee the team’s defensive group and power-play unit. Vellucci, 54, will work with the team’s forwards and oversee the penalty kill.
Details: https://t.co/lVrrfNDcQF pic.twitter.com/gaf0zc5DYv
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) September 2, 2020
“I am pleased to add Todd and Mike to our coaching staff, and believe they will complement Mike Sullivan’s coaching style,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said in a release. “Todd is a Stanley Cup-winning coach with a decade of NHL experience as both an assistant and head coach. Mike brings championship experience at both the AHL and OHL level, and is very familiar with how we function as an organization.”
Coach Sullivan on Reirden and Vellucci: "We feel strongly that these guys are a great fit. They are really good coaches first and foremost. They have a wealth of experience in a lot of different capacities. They know what it takes to win a championship."
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) September 2, 2020
During his time in Washington, Reirden, in the same position under Barry Trotz, helped lead the Capitals to its first Stanley Cup in 2018. Reirden was promoted to the team’s head coach the next season and helped lead Washington to consecutive Metropolitan Division titles.
Todd’s other accomplishments include:
Reirden was ultimately fired by the Capitals days after the team was eliminated in the first round for the second consecutive year. He put his Falls Church mansion up for sale on Monday.
In the end, it only took Todd 10 days to find a new gig.
The Penguins, in the same release, also announced that they hired Mike Vellucci as the team’s other assistant coach (forwards/penalty kill) and signed goaltending coach Mike Buckley to a two-year extension.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have named Todd Reirden and Mike Vellucci assistant coaches, and signed goaltending coach Mike Buckley to a two-year contract extension, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
Reirden and Vellucci join head coach Mike Sullivan’s staff, replacing Jacques Martin, Mark Recchi and Sergei Gonchar, whose contracts were not renewed at the conclusion of Pittsburgh’s season. Reirden, 49, will oversee the team’s defensive group and power play unit. Vellucci, 54, will work with the team’s forwards and oversee the penalty kill.
“I am pleased to add Todd and Mike to our coaching staff, and believe they will complement Mike Sullivan’s coaching style,” Rutherford said. “Todd is a Stanley Cup winning coach with a decade of NHL experience as both an assistant and head coach. Mike brings championship experience at both the AHL and OHL level, and is very familiar with how we function as an organization.”
Reirden, a Deerfield, Illinois native, spent the past six seasons on the Washington Capitals coaching staff, serving as head coach for the past two seasons. He was an assistant coach from 2014-16, and then associate coach from 2016-18, where he helped the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup Championship in franchise history in 2018.
Prior to his time with Washington, Reirden was an assistant coach with the Penguins from 2010-14, where he assumed a similar role, working with the team’s defensemen and power play units. During his four seasons as Pittsburgh’s assistant coach, only the Washington Capitals (20.7%) and San Jose Sharks (20.5%) had a better power-play success rate from 2010-14 than the Penguins’ 20.3%.
While under Reirden’s tutelage, alternate captain Kris Letang played some of the best hockey of his career. In the four-year stretch from 2010-14 Letang averaged .74 points per game, which is .08 higher than his career average of .66. Letang was also a combined plus-44 over those four seasons, and was named a Norris Trophy finalist in 2012-13.
Before joining Pittsburgh’s coaching staff, Reirden spent three years with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins from 2008-10 as both an assistant coach and head coach.
Vellucci is joining Pittsburgh’s NHL club after completing his first season as the general manager and head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, helping them to a 29-26-3-5 record in 63 games this year. In total, eight of Vellucci’s players at the AHL level saw action with Pittsburgh last season, most notably Sam Lafferty, Anthony Angello and Andrew Agozzino.
The Farmington, Michigan native spent the previous five seasons as the assistant general manager and director of hockey operations for the Carolina Hurricanes where he oversaw player development and scouting. During the 2017-19 seasons, Vellucci also served as the Charlotte Checkers’ head coach where he compiled a record of 97-43-8-4 in 152 games.
Vellucci was instrumental to the success of the Carolina organization in 2018-19, leading the Checkers to a Calder Cup Championship after compiling the league’s best regular-season record (51-17-7-1) and winning the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award for AHL Coach of the Year.
Prior to his time with the Hurricanes organization, Vellucci spent 14 seasons in the same dual role as general manager and head coach of the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL from 2001-14. He became the first to receive both the OHL Executive of the Year award and OHL Coach of the Year award in the same season in 2012-13. He also won the Coach of the Year award during the Whalers’ 2006-07 championship season.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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