First Penguins coach, George ‘Red’ Sullivan, dies at age 89
George “Red” Sullivan, who coached the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first two seasons in franchise history from 1967-69, died Saturday in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario. He was 89.
Sullivan played 14 years in the NHL before becoming Penguins coach, scoring 107 goals in 557 games with Boston, Chicago and the New York Rangers. With the Hershey Bears in 1953-54, he set an AHL scoring record with 119 points in a season that stood for more than 30 years.
Sullivan nearly died while playing for the Rangers when a spear by legendary Montreal Canadiens defenseman Doug Harvey ruptured his spleen.
When Jack Riley was hired as the Penguins’ inaugural general manager, one of the first things he did was hire Sullivan.
“He was a fiery type of coach and I thought he was the right man for the job at that time,” Riley said in The Great Expansion, a book by Alan Bass.
The Penguins did not make the playoffs in either of their first two seasons and Sullivan was reassigned. He also coached in the NHL for the Rangers and Washington Capitals.
According to the Peterborough Examiner, Sullivan is survived by Marion Sullivan, his wife of 67 years, four children, 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. He died at a Peterborough nursing home where he had been treated for Alzheimer’s Disease the past three years.
The Penguins offered their public condolences via Twitter on Monday morning.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .