The Pittsburgh Penguins have named Mike Buckley the team's goaltending coach, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
Buckley replaces Mike Bales, who joined the Carolina Hurricanes coaching staff on Saturday.
"We are excited to have Mike Buckley join the Pittsburgh staff," Rutherford said. "He has tutored our young goalies, especially Matt Murray, for a number of years, making this a seamless transition for our group. We certainly appreciate the contributions from Mike Bales throughout his time with our club. He was invaluable to our team, and especially our goaltenders, during our Stanley Cup runs the past two seasons."
Buckley, 40, will join Mike Sullivan's staff following four years as the Penguins' goaltending development coach, where he was responsible for working with and assisting in the development of goalie prospects throughout the Penguins organization.
During the past two postseasons, the Haverhill, Massachusetts native traveled with the NHL Penguins during their back-to-back Stanley Cup championship runs. He offered additional guidance to both Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury. Murray, after working closely with Buckley at the minor-league level, became the first goaltender in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup in each of his first two seasons in the league.
In Buckley's four seasons as the team's goaltending development coach, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins finished with the lowest goals-against average in the American Hockey League three times, including this past year when WBS also compiled the top overall regular-season record in the league, in large part because of the play of the team's goaltending tandem.
This past season, WBS rookie goaltender Casey DeSmith led the AHL with a 2.01 goals-against average, and starting netminder Tristan Jarry finished fourth at 2.15. The duo represented two of just seven AHL goalies to post save percentages of .925 or higher. Jarry, a second-year pro, finished third in the league with 28 wins, while DeSmith earned a spot on the AHL's All-Rookie Team.
Buckley's second year as goaltending development coach in 2014-15 was Murray's breakout campaign at the AHL level. That year, Murray won Rookie of the Year, Goaltender of the Year, was named both a First-Team All-Star and to the All-Rookie Team, and set several team and league records. Among those records was a 304:11-minute shutout streak, the longest in AHL history.
Although Murray played just two-thirds of the 2015-16 season with WBS, he was again the top goalie in the league, earning an AHL Second-Team All-Star selection before a permanent promotion to Pittsburgh in late February.
As the goaltending development coach, Buckley also had a strong influence on Pittsburgh's selection of netminder Filip Gustavsson as the club's top choice in the 2016 NHL Draft. The Penguins chose Gustavsson with the 55th overall pick in the second round, and signed the 19-year-old Swede to his entry-level contract on Friday.
A native of Haverhill, Massachusetts, Buckley spent the 2012-13 season as the goaltending coach at the University of New Hampshire, where he helped the Wildcats advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He also worked as a goaltending coach for USA Hockey.
Prior to working at New Hampshire, Buckley served five years as the goaltending coach at his alma mater, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, from 2007-12. During that period he also served as a goalie consultant for the Columbus Blue Jackets (2010-12) and Dynamo Minsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
In addition to his work with teams, Buckley has held the dual title of president/head instructor at Goaltending Development Services Inc. since 2004, where he trains National Hockey League, American Hockey League and college goaltenders throughout the season and summer months. At GDS, Buckley has worked with several of the NHL's top netminders, including the Boston Bruins Tuukka Rask, the Los Angeles Kings Jonathan Quick and former Penguins goaltender Ty Conklin.
Following a four-year college career at UMass-Amherst that ended in 2000, Buckley played five seasons of professional hockey from 2000-05, including parts of three campaigns with the Mississippi Sea Wolves and Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL.