Penguins’ Mike Sullivan ‘hams’ his way through questioning the usefulness of morning skates
Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan isn’t alone among modern NHL personnel in questioning the usefulness of the gameday morning skate.
But he’s one of the few who called it “the most overrated practice in hockey.” And he’s most certainly the only coach, player or executive who compared morning skates to the dinner-cooking practices of the generations who came before him.
Allow Sullivan to explain.
“It’s like, why does the whole league have morning skates?” Sullivan said from UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex after Penguins practice Monday. “It reminds me of why my mother cut the sides of the hams off before she cooked them, and I asked her, ‘Why do you cut the side of the hams off?’ She said, ‘I don’t know; because that’s what my mother taught me.’
“So I asked my grandma, ‘Why do you cut the sides of the ham before you put them in the oven.’ (She answered), ‘Well, that was easy. I didn’t have a pan that was big enough.’”
Sullivan paused to allow his point to sink in to gathered media, who chuckled in unison.
“Right? So that’s my analogy of morning skates.”
Teddy Blueger joins the Penguins for morning skate in Dallas. pic.twitter.com/9kY43OjMCq
— Jonathan Bombulie (@BombulieTrib) February 9, 2018
In a rite of passage that hockey lore says began as a way for coaches to prevent players from having too good of a time during their late nights out on the road, NHL teams have light, late-morning practices on the days of night games.
Almost all teams do not have a morning skate on the day after a game is played, and some teams take the sessions far more seriously than others. The Penguins have had far more optional skates under Sullivan this season than they have had mandatory, higher-energy sessions.
“Sully usually always gives the optional (morning skates), and right now he’s having everyone off the ice,” veteran wing Patric Hornqvist said. “And it’s been good for us so far.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .