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May 29, 2017

Mike Sullivan

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Pregame


Q. Mike, just wondering if Patric Hornqvist does come back in tonight, seems that Hagelin is still out on the ice. Is that any indication of his status? Speculation around maybe perhaps Jake Guentzel being the odd man out. Have you made that decision? Would you share it with us?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Yes, I have made the decision. No, I won't share it with you.

Those guys will be game-time decisions. Patric Hornqvist will play.

Q. Mike, questions about Matt Murray. When a rookie tastes success as early in his career as he did last year, in your view do you feel like his growth the next year is almost accelerated because of the experience he went through the previous year?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think that the experience that he's gone through certainly should serve him well moving forward, continued growth as a player. Any time you have an opportunity to play in a high-stakes environment on a big stage like the Stanley Cup Finals, it can only serve a player well. I would think that would be the case with Matt.

Q. Mike, since Jim Rutherford arrived, he made a lot of important moves that helped this team particularly with depth. How much are you involved with all that? What is your relationship with Jim and how does it work?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, we have a great relationship. It's very candid. I think Jim does a great job at utilizing all of the people around him to help him make the most informed decisions. He's a great listener. He takes our input. We share it with him, if we have something that we think can help him make the best decision for the team.

But I really have a lot of respect for how Jim runs his hockey operations. He's a real straightforward guy. We have candid conversations. I really appreciate it because I think that's how you make progress.

Jim and I have a great relationship. He's always seeking our input or our thoughts. He listens. He makes the best decisions that he thinks -- excuse me. He makes decisions that he thinks are best for the hockey team.

It's a great working relationship. I think we've developed a great friendship through everything we've gone through here in the short time we've been together, but I really value the relationship that we have.

Q. When things ended as badly as they did in Vancouver and as quickly as they ended in Vancouver, does it make you take a step back and look at the business, where you're going from here? Would you ever believe you would have ended up in a position as well as you are right now?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think any time you go through a hard experience like that, I think you can't help but reflect on it and soul search and figure out what you might learn from it, how you can get better and improve as a coach and as a person.

I don't think I'm any different than any other coach or coaching staff that's gone through difficult experiences. I think when you're in the business for any length of time, this league is going to challenge you with difficult experiences.

Certainly I did a lot of reflecting on it and soul searching on it, trying to figure out ways how I could improve and grow as a coach and as a person.

As far as the opportunity that I've been afforded here with Pittsburgh, I don't take one day for granted. I think some of those difficult experiences that I've gone through as a coach I think give me a certain perspective that makes me appreciate the opportunity that I've been afforded here in Pittsburgh.

It's a great group of players. It's a terrific organization to work for, starting from the ownership right on down through our management team. I just think this is a first class organization. My experience of being here is that the Pittsburgh Penguins just do things the right way. I certainly don't take that granted either.

I'm grateful. I'm appreciative. I see the opportunities that are in front of us. I think our players do, as well. We're excited about it because it doesn't always go that way.

Q. Several of your guys talked yesterday about the influence that Kris Letang has had on them. What have you seen as far as the influence on your group?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, Tanger is a great teammate. He really cares about this group. Even though he hasn't played in a playoff game this year, he's still every bit invested in this team and helping them win as he is when he's in the lineup.

Obviously his teammates have a lot of respect for him. His coaching staff certainly has a lot of respect for him. He brings us things. We ask him to watch the power play, for example, our defensemen.

Him and Sergei Gonchar spend a lot of time together in putting their collective thoughts together that they bring down, and help our coaching staff as far as any adjustments that we need to make, or any sort of situations that we have to bring to our team's attention. That's just an indication of how invested Tanger is with this Penguins team, and how badly he wants to win.

Q. After winning it all last year, kind of having the mindset of let's do it again this year, what have you learned about the difficulty of getting back here a second year in a row, why teams don't do it that often in today's NHL?
MIKE SULLIVAN: Well, I think it's hard to win. That's what jumps out at me, is just how much respect I have for the league and the teams that are in the league, how well-coached the teams are. There's so much parity in the league, I think it's difficult. It's difficult to win. You've got to beat some really good teams.

The NHL playoffs might be the most grueling playoffs in professional sports. I have such an appreciation for the opportunity that this team has earned to this point.

Having said that, we also understand that nothing is inevitable, and we have to continue to earn the opportunity that's in front of us through our play. So we're looking at Game 1. We're not looking beyond it. Our focus is right on the task at hand, and that's that game tonight.

Q. Do you want to sort of ease Hornqvist back in the lineup? Is he not really the kind of guy you can ease? He doesn't do ease well, I don't think.
MIKE SULLIVAN: I don't think we ease anybody into the lineup. When our guys go into the lineup, they're ready to play, period.


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