TAMPA – Penguins coach Mike Sullivan will be an assistant coach for the United States at this fall’s World Cup of Hockey.
“It’s always an honor to represent your country in these types of events,” Sullivan said today. “They’re the pinnacle of the sport, and it’s a privilege to be part of it.
“I know there are a lot of real good, quality American-born coaches. The fact I have an opportunity to be part of a great staff is certainly a privilege, and I’m looking forward to it.”
John Tortorella will be the U.S. head coach along with other assistants will be John Hynes (New Jersey), Phil Housley (Nashville), Jack Capuano (New York Islanders) and Scorr Gordon (Lehigh Valley, American Hockey League).
Sullivan has a long history with USA Hockey. He was head coach at the 2007 world championships and an assistant at the 2006 Olympics and 2008 world championships. He also played in the 1997 world championships and the 1988 world juniors.
Sullivan said he has not considered how the Penguins will handle training camp while he is involved with the World Cup, which features eight teams and is scheduled to run from Sept. 17-Oct. 1 in Toronto.
The Penguins’ offense has shown signs in recent weeks of breaking out of its early-season funk, but they still entered their game against Tampa Bay Friday at Amalie Arena averaging just 2.33 goals per game, fifth-lowest figure in the league.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos, one of the league’s premier offensive talents, suggested that the Penguins’ scoring problems in 2015-16 aren’t necessarily shocking, but there’s not much reason to expect them to persist.
“It’s not an easy league to score in,” he said. “There are so many things that factor into that. Sometimes, you’re just not getting the bounces.
“With the amount of skill over there [in the Penguins’ locker room], you just can’t think that it’s going to last for the whole year.”
With center Nick Bonino sidelined indefinitely because of a hand injury, the Penguins recalled forward Conor Sheary from their farm team in Wilkes-Barre.
He had one goal and one assist in a recent 10-game stint with the parent club, going point-less in the final eight.
Sheary is the Baby Penguins’ leading scorer, with seven goals and 26 assists in 28 games.
“I love his energy,” Sullivan said. “I think he has good speed. He’s a great puck-pursuit guy. He’s got good offensive instincts. We can use him in different situations.
“He’s deserving. He’s helped this team win when he’s been up. He’s been one of the better players that’s been in Wilkes-Barre this year. He’s got a great demeanor, a great approach to the game.”
Palat back in action
Friday night’s game was the sixth in a row for Lightning left winger Ondrej Palat, who had missed 20 of the previous 22 because of unspecified injuries.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper did not try to hide how glad he is to have Palat back.
“It’s no secret he’s a huge part of our team,” Cooper said. “He’s just a complete player. He plays the whole 200 feet. He can play anywhere in the lineup.
“He’s just one of those guys you don’t read [about] in the newspaper every single night, but he’s probably the reason [other] guys are in the newspaper. That unsung hero type.”
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG
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