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Sullivan tabbed as Team USA assistant coach for World Cup of Hockey

Jonathan Bombulie
| Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, 11:30 a.m.

TAMPA, Fla. — Mike Sullivan has called the shots for the black and gold for only a short time. He has been partial to the red, white and blue a lot longer.

A native of Marshfield, Mass., Sullivan will get another chance to represent his country when he is an assistant coach for Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey in the fall, USA Hockey announced Friday.

“I'm excited,” Sullivan said before the Penguins played Tampa Bay on Friday night. “Obviously, it's always an honor to represent your country in these types of events. They're the pinnacle of the sport, and it's a privilege to be a part of it.

“I know there are a lot of real good quality American-born coaches, and the fact that I have an opportunity to be a part of a great staff is certainly a privilege.”

In his most high-profile assignment for Team USA, Sullivan was an assistant coach in the 2006 Olympics. He also appeared in the 1988 World Junior Championships as a player. At the World Championships, he has been a player (1997), a head coach (2007) and an assistant coach (2008).

This time, Sullivan will be reunited with Columbus' John Tortorella, who will be coach for Team USA. Sullivan worked under Tortorella with the Lightning, Rangers and Canucks from 2008-14.

The other assistants will be Devils coach John Hynes, Predators assistant Phil Housley, Islanders coach Jack Capuano and Lehigh Valley coach Scott Gordon. Like Sullivan, Hynes is a former Baby Pens coach.

The tournament runs Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 in Toronto. NHL training camps will start on schedule, with players and coaches playing in the World Cup joining after their countries are eliminated. Sullivan said he had not yet thought about how the beginning of camp will run without him.

“No,” he said. “I've thought about Tampa Bay.”

Quick turnaround

With Nick Bonino out long-term with a hand injury, the Penguins called up winger Conor Sheary from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

After being sent down Jan. 7, Sheary racked up eight points in four games over six days for the Baby Pens. That proved to be a good way to earn a quick ticket back to the NHL.

“When we sent him down, he was very productive. Didn't get disgruntled,” Sullivan said. “I'm sure he was disappointed, but he didn't let it affect how he played. For me, that says something about a player and their character and their makeup and how they handle those things. We watch those things.”

Throwing a changeup

Sullivan's line combinations were a little different than expected in Bonino's absence. Tom Kuhnhackl stayed on the third line, but he was joined by Matt Cullen and Sheary.

Fehr centered Kevin Porter and Bryan Rust on the fourth line. Sergei Plotnikov was scratched for the third straight game.

More reps

While in Tampa, the Penguins got in two full practices and a morning skate before Friday night's game. Sullivan called it a productive trip.

“We got the opportunity to actually get on the ice and practice it as opposed to trying to make those clarifications through the film,” he said.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.

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