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The 400 Club: Mike Sullivan scores 400th coaching victory against Philadelphia

CBS News Live
CBS News Pittsburgh Live

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - When former Penguins' General Manager Jim Rutherford promoted Mike Sullivan to be the Penguins' head coach on December 15, 2015, he knew what he was getting. 

"Mike Sullivan has been a head coach and an assistant coach in the NHL and we've been very fortunate to have him with our AHL club this season," he said that day. "He's done an outstanding job in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and he's ready to step in."

On that day, he replaced Mike Johnston as the Penguins' bench boss and went on to win consecutive Stanley Cups, making him the first coach in Penguins' history to win more than just a single championship with the club. 

It was with some of those guys Sullivan leaned on to win the franchise's fourth and fifth Stanley Cups - names like Matt Murray, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Tom Kuhnhackl, Scott Wilson, and others. 

Seven years later, Sullivan has become not only the Penguins' leader in victories as head coach but a stabilizing force. 

"He's the best coach I've ever had," said Penguins defenseman Kris Letang to The Athletic. "He's who we want as our coach."

His spot atop the Penguins' leaderboard increased on Saturday as the Penguins skated to a 5-1 victory over the rival Philadelphia Flyers. 

The victory gave Sullivan 400 wins as a head coach in the National Hockey League with 330 of those victories coming here in Pittsburgh. 

He now sits eighth among active NHL coaches in victories, falling behind Jon Cooper, Todd McLellan, John Tortorella, Darryl Sutter, Peter Laviolette, Paul Maurice, and Lindy Ruff. 

He also has nudged his way into the top 50 all-time, sitting at 40th, ahead of such icons as Fred Shero, Art Ross, Lester Patrick, and Red Kelly, to name a few. 

This past summer, Fenway Sports Group, the Penguins, and Mike Sullivan agreed to a three-year extension, that should keep him as the coach through the 2026-27 season. 

"He's one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League and we look forward to our continued collaboration with him and the entire Penguins organization to bring another Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh," said Fenway Sports Group Chairman Tom Werner at the time. 

It's not a bad bet considering that Sullivan's 44 victories in the playoffs again rank number one in franchise history. 

Sullivan and the Penguins will go for career victory 401 this evening when the New York Rangers come to PPG Paints Arena for a 4 p.m. showdown. 

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