Penguins’ Mike Sullivan named US men’s hockey coach for Milan 2026

Mike Sullivan was selected Saturday as U.S. coach for the 2026 Olympic Games in Milan, an expected move that puts the two-time Stanley Cup champion in charge of the country’s bid for its first gold medal since Miracle On Ice in 1980.

USA Hockey also announced that the Pittsburgh Penguins coach will be behind the bench for next year’s Four Nations Face-Off, a tournament the NHL will present in February 2025 to get a taste of international competition in the lead-up to the Olympic Games. Milan marks the return of NHL players to the Olympics after missing the past two.

“We are pleased that Mike will be guiding our teams,” said US General Manager Bill Guerin. “He is one of the very best coaches in the sport and his background, including in international hockey, is well suited to putting our team in the best position to win.”

A native of Marshfield, Massachusetts, Sullivan was an assistant at the 2006 Olympic Games, also in Turin, Italy. Most recently, he was part of John Tortorella’s staff during the 2016 Hockey World Cup.

Each of these events turned out disastrously for the US, who also lost to eventual champions Canada in the semifinals of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and then to Finland in the bronze medal match.

The NHL will return to Milan and then France in 2030 after an agreement was reached between the league, the players’ association, the International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation. It’s a chance for a generation of American stars, including Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Adam Fox, Charlie McAvoy and stalwarts in goal, to finally compete together on the world stage.

Sullivan, who coached Pittsburgh to the Cup, will run the show. He was set to coach the U.S. in Beijing in 2022 before the NHL belatedly pulled out due to pandemic scheduling issues.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to coach Team USA in these two important international events,” Sullivan said in a news release. “It has been great to see the progress we have made in hockey in our country over the course of my career. I am honored to lead our best players and look forward to the challenge ahead.”

Sullivan, 56, also previously coached the Boston Bruins during his long career, which began in the early 2000s. He has been with Pittsburgh since being promoted to midseason reliever in the 2015-16 season. As a player, he represented the US at the 1988 World Junior Championships and the ’97 World Cup.

“Mike Sullivan is not only a great coach, but also someone with a strong passion for USA Hockey,” said Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey. “He is a world-class leader and has been an important part of hockey in our country for a long time.”