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Disco Fever Running Wild for Three More Years…

By
Updated: March 9, 2011

Dan Bylsma might have had no NHL head coaching experience when he was hired to replace Michel Therrien two years ago, but his arrival served as a breath of fresh air for the organization. The feel good vibe that he brought to the team was contagious and it wasn’t long before he had this team on the right track.

Yes, Michel Therrien took  a group of youngsters all the way to the Stanley Cup Final and he helped them do a lot of growing, but it was time to move on. His stern approach to coaching worked well in Wilkes Barre-Scranton and even when the team was evolving into a winner, but it stopped working.

Dan Bylsma came in with an aggressive system that allowed his team to skate, to attack and to ultimately win the Stanley Cup that spring.  Something that they hadn’t done since 1992. The guys bought in to what he was selling almost immediately and it showed on the ice, in the room and everywhere else.

As I said, his feel good vibe was contagious.

Now that isn’t to say that he isn’t able to instruct, point out flaws and let players know when they make a mistake. He does it all the time, but he does it in a very straight forward, “tell it like it is way” and the guys in that room respect the hell out of him.

This group knows that Bylsma has their back and they have his. They follow his directives and those of his assistants and they know that when they do so they win more than they lose.

It has been amazing to watch the story of Dan Bylsma unfold before our eyes over the past couple of seasons and I for one am thrilled that we will get to watch it for three more years.

Ray Shero announced a three year contract extension for Bylsma this  morning.

“Dan has very quickly established himself as one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League,” Shero said in the Penguins’ news release. “He has been a perfect fit for our organization since day one, and we look forward to having him leading our team for the next three seasons.

“I think what we’ve been able to accomplish so far his season, even with players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal out of the lineup for extended periods of time, is a testament to his coaching system, his adaptability, and his composure under pressure.”

Bylsma has an overall record of 104-52-19 with the Penguins and has the highest winning percentage (.649) of any coach in franchise history. He also is tied with the legendary Scotty Bowman for the team record in playoff victories (23) and playoff series wins (five).

If a recent players poll that was conducted with a group of NHL All-Stars by the CBC, Dan Bylsma was chosen by 21% as the coach they would most like to play for… the highest total of any coach.

Clearly the rest of the league is finding out what Pittsburgh and Ray Shero already knows, that Dan Bylsma is becoming one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League.

Congrats coach… you deserve it!

Here is the official release from the team…

Pens’ Bylsma Gets Three-Year Contract Extension

Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma has agreed to a three-year contract extension through the 2013-14 season, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Ray Shero.

Bylsma, 40, led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in 2009 and has his team in the hunt for the top spot in the Eastern Conference this year despite an injury-depleted lineup.

“Dan has very quickly established himself as one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League,” Shero said. “He has been a perfect fit for our organization since day one, and we look forward to having him leading our team for the next three seasons.

“I think what we’ve been able to accomplish so far his season, even with players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal out of the lineup for extended periods of time, is a testament to his coaching system, his adaptability, and his composure under pressure.”

Bylsma has an overall record of 104-52-19 with the Penguins and has the highest winning percentage (.649) of any coach in franchise history. He also is tied with the legendary Scotty Bowman for the team record in playoff victories (23) and playoff series wins (five).

This season, Bylsma has led the Pens to a 39-21-8 record for 86 points – tied for third place in the overall NHL standings – despite having seen his team already lose 265 man-games to injury. That includes Staal missing 39 games, Crosby missing 27, Malkin missing 25, Chris Kunitz missing 15, Mark Letestu missing 13 and Brooks Orpik missing 12.

The Penguins currently lead the NHL in penalty-killing efficiency (86.8 percent) while ranking fifth in team goals-against average (2.41) and tied for fifth in one-goal wins (19). They’re also tied for seventh in goals scored.

Bylsma was named interim head coach of the Penguins on February 15, 2009, with the team in 10th place in the conference and in danger of missing the playoffs altogether.  They responded by going 18-3-4 in 25 regular season games to rise to fourth in the conference standings, then defeated Philadelphia, Washington, Carolina and Detroit en route to the Stanley Cup. Along the way, he also lost the “interim” tag.

Last year, in his first full season behind the bench, the Penguins were 47-28-7 for 101 points.

The native of Grand Haven, Michigan played nine NHL seasons as a right winger with Los Angeles and Anaheim from 1995-2004. He played 429 NHL regular season games, recording 19 goals and 62 points, and also played in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final with Anaheim.

He began his coaching career as an assistant with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks of the AHL in 2004-05 and made his NHL coaching debut as an assistant with the New York Islanders in 2005-06.

Bylsma was an assistant coach with the Penguins’ farm team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for two seasons from 2006-08 and was named head coach at the start of the 2008-09 season. He went 35-16-2 in 54 games with WBS before being promoted to Pittsburgh in February of that season.

Bylsma played four years of college hockey at Bowling Green. He and his wife, Mary Beth, have one son, Bryan, and reside in the North Hills.

Comments

One Comment

  1. specialorange

    March 9, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    i friggin love our team.
    Congrats to Disco Dan!