Penguins hire Reirden, Vellucci as assistant coaches

Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden. (Al Drago/AP)

A little over a week after the Washington Capitals fired head coach Todd Reirden, he has been scooped up by their Metropolitan Division rivals — the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins announced Wednesday that Reirden and Mike Vellucci will join head coach Mike Sullivan’s staff as assistant coaches, replacing Jacques Martin, Mark Recchi and Sergei Gonchar, whose contracts were not renewed after the Penguins were ousted in the playoff’s qualifying-round by the Montreal Canadiens.

“I am pleased to add Todd and Mike to our coaching staff, and believe they will compliment Mike Sullivan’s coaching style,” executive vice-president and general manager Jim Rutherford said in a statement.

“Todd is a Stanley Cup-winning coach with a decade of NHL experience as both an assistant and head coach. Mike brings championship experience at both the AHL and OHL level, and is very familiar with how we function as an organization.”

Reirden, 49, was let go by the Capitals on Aug. 23 after back-to-back first-round playoff exits, marking the first time they failed to win a post-season series in consecutive years since 2013 and 2014.

This year’s defeat came at the hands of the New York Islanders and head coach Barry Trotz, who led the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2018. Washington let Trotz go that off-season and Reirden, a longtime assistant with the Capitals, was promoted into the role.

Prior to his time in Washington, Reirden served as an assistant with the Penguins from 2010-14.

Vellucci, 54, joins the Penguins after his first season as the GM and head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate. He previously spent five seasons as the assistant GM and director of hockey operations for the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Penguins also announced Wednesday that they’d signed goaltending coach Mike Buckley to a two-year contract extension.

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