When Dan Bylsma was fired from the Penguins in 2014, he left Pittsburgh with one Stanley Cup and 252 wins. Pretty good numbers for five and half seasons. Since then it’s been uphill battle. Jack Eichel was drafted second overall in 2015 and the Sabres believed Bylsma would help the young center grow. When Eichel’s on the ice he’s been a stud, a combined 73 points in 104 games is a fine start to an NHL career. But while Eichel’s developing, the rest of the team is not. Buffalo won three games in October, five in November, five in December and four in January. The Sabres have had injuries this season, but overall they’ve been a disappointment. This is why the Sabres coach could be available to Vegas this offseason.
The obvious reason for Bylsma’s success in Pittsburgh was Sidney Crosby. The Penguins were coming off a Stanley Cup loss and were hungry to get back. Michele Therrien was fired in February of ’09 after the team had struggled to stay afloat. Bylsma took over and stormed on to a Stanley Cup victory. Pittsburgh went 18-3-4, the second best record for a coach’s first 25 games. Impressive, but there were plenty of skeptics out there. Many felt he tinkered and wore out players. Some said he underachieved overall in Pittsburgh and seems like he’s doing the same in Buffalo.
Two coaches executives believe are on the hot seat at the moment: Winnipeg’s Paul Maurice and Buffalo’s Dan Bylsma. Sooner or later both have to start getting better results. –Bruce Garrioch, Ottawa Sun
You could argue he deserves more than two seasons but it’s gotten worse since that report. Some owners don’t have patience, and Vegas fans should hope Sabres owner Terrence Pegula runs out of it this offseason.
Bylsma may be trending downward but he’s still 46 and has time to bounce back. His overall record is 304-171 in eight seasons. He coached in 78 playoff games and won 43 of them. He’s an accomplished head coach before the age of 50. What I also like about Bylsma’s record is the the back-to-back seasons in which Crosby missed significant time. In 2010-2011 Crosby only played 43 games after a series of head injuries. Concussion symptoms again kept Crosby out for another 60 games in 2011-2012. Both years the Penguins reached the playoffs without the games best player. Not too mention Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang also missed time during that stretch. Bylsma got his team to believe in his system and in each other. Good signs of a coach that works well with what he’s given.
The Golden Knights could be a team that interests the former Kings and Sharks player. The stress-free situation of a new franchise would allow Bylsma time to build an organizational brand of hockey. His experience coaching Crosby and Eichel are positive attributes for dealing with a young talent to develop. If Bylsma can get his team to compete and develop at the same time than he would be a dream come true for Vegas.
Maybe, George McPhee could find the next Barry Trotz and coach for the next 15 years. Bylsma is looking for a long-term position and it could be here in Sin City. There’s one more thing we must discuss about Bylsma, and it’s even more impressive than some of his coaching numbers, his legendary nickname. Disco Dan may have had limited success as an NHL player but his locker room dancing created one of hockey’s best. You’re telling me Disco Dan doesn’t fit in this town?