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Sullivan eager to work on fixing Penguins with Dubas

Joe Sargent / National Hockey League / Getty

Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan is excited to exchange ideas with new team president of hockey operations Kyle Dubas and find a way to bring the club back to contention.

The two are in agreement that Pittsburgh is a threat as long as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang make up the core of the franchise. However, they're aware the superstar trio needs help lower in the lineup after the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

"In particular, just the Penguins and looking at our group and the personnel that we have, how we set our group up for success," Sullivan said, per's Wes Crosby. "How do we surround our core with what it needs to have success? I'm sure we'll have a lot more discussions moving forward now that Kyle is officially on board and part of our organization. Those are conversations that I really look forward to."

Crosby (93) and Malkin (83) were Pittsburgh's top two producers this past season, while Letang paced the club in average ice time (24:51) at 35 years old. However, Sullivan believes the issue is the Penguins' team speed, not them being led by three aging legends.

"When you look at the identity of the Penguins and how this team has had success, certainly in my time here, but more importantly, with our core group of players, I think speed has always been an important element," Sullivan said. "I think speed is part of the evolution of the game. When you look at the teams that are having success in the league, none of them are slow."

Sullivan guided the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, but the club has advanced past the first round only once since. Pittsburgh missed the postseason by a single point in 2022-23, leading to the firings of former president Brian Burke and general manager Ron Hextall.

Dubas was brought in to replace Burke after nine years in the Toronto Maple Leafs' front office, but the Penguins haven't yet named a new GM. Dubas will fill the role on an interim basis in the meantime.

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