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Sullivan has followed winding road to Penguins bench

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Mike Sullivan has been brought in to fix the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sullivan was hired Saturday to replace Mike Johnston with the Penguins out of Stanley Cup Playoff position and near the bottom of the NHL in goals.

Sullivan was coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League. They were 18-5-0-0, the best winning percentage (.783) in the 30-team league. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has 85 goals, the third-highest total in the AHL.

Pittsburgh (15-10-3) has 33 points from 28 games and are behind the Boston Bruins, who have 35 points from 27 games and hold the second of two wild cards into the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Pittsburgh is seven points behind the Washington Capitals, who lead the Metropolitan Division.

Sullivan, 47, will be have to find answers to the issues affecting play along the blue line, especially with the absence of injured defenseman Kris Letang. Perhaps, more importantly, he will be expected to get the offense on track.

Despite having three of the most offensively dynamic players in the League -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel -- the Penguins have 67 goals. Two teams in the Eastern Conference have scored fewer: the Toronto Maple Leafs (64) and Philadelphia Flyers (62).

Here is a quick look at Sullivan, who will begin his second stint as an NHL coach Monday when the Penguins host the Capitals:

Proud pipeline: Sullivan is the fifth member of a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coaching staff to be coaching in the NHL. That includes Dan Bylsma, in his first year with the Buffalo Sabres after serving as Pittsburgh coach from 2009-14. Mike Yeo, an assistant at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and with Pittsburgh, is coach of the Minnesota Wild. Michel Therrien, who coached Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Pittsburgh before Bylsma, is coach of the Montreal Canadiens. John Hynes, coach of the New Jersey Devils, coached Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season.

Round 2: This is not Sullivan's first NHL coaching job. He coached the Bruins for two seasons, beginning with the 2003-04 season. The Bruins finished first (41-19-15-7) in the Northeast Division but were knocked out of the playoffs by the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. His second season, following the lockout, did not go as well. The Bruins went 29-37-16 and finished last in the division. Sullivan was fired that offseason by incoming general manager Peter Chiarelli.

Helping hand: Since being fired in Boston, Sullivan has thrived as a top assistant coach, serving as the right-hand man for several teams. Since 2007, he has been on a bench with John Tortorella with the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. Sullivan lost his job in Vancouver when Tortorella was fired on May 1, 2014.

Stanley Cup resume: After being dismissed by the Canucks, Sullivan joined the staff of the Chicago Blackhawks, serving as a player development coach. He worked primarily with the organization's young forwards, particularly in the AHL. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in the spring, defeating the Lightning in six games.

USA, USA!: Sullivan has an extensive history with the USA national team program, as a player and a coach. A forward with a keen ability to kill penalties and play on the defensive side of the puck, he played in the 1988 World Junior Championship and the 1997 World Championship. Sullivan was the coach at the 2007 World Championship and an assistant at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

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