Penguins give Bylsma three-year contract extension
By Josh Yohe, MCKEESPORT DAILY NEWS
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Penguin coaching history
How Penguins coaches have fared in their first three seasons on the job:
Dan Bylsma (2009-11): 104-52-19
Mike Therrien (2005-0
Kevin Constantine, (1997-99): 86-68-35
Eddie Johnston (1993-96): 122-72-20
Bob Berry (1984-87): 88-127-25
Eddie Johnston (1980-83): 79-126-35
Johnny Wilson (1977-80): 91-105-44
Marc Boileau (1974-76): 66-61-24
Red Kelley (1969-72): 64-94-38
Coaching giants like Bob Johnson, Scotty Bowman and Herb Brooks have stood behind the Penguins' bench for small bursts of glory, all of them cementing their legends elsewhere.
Finally, the Penguins appear to have found the coach who will always be synonymous with their organization.
Only two years away from becoming the first head coach in franchise history to last four full seasons, Dan Bylsma signed a three-year extension Wednesday. The signing could be viewed as an indication that the Penguins believe Bylsma is among the NHL's best coaches, and they do. But this signing represents something more.
The Penguins, perhaps for the first time in franchise history, have become completely stable, an organization that is sound in every conceivable way.
"I'm reminded of '09, when I felt like I had to pinch myself every day," Bylsma said of his latest success and new contract. "It's a humbling thing to think about the opportunity I've been given with this team. There isn't better ownership in sports."
There are few front offices in general that can compare to the Penguins these days. The aura of owner Mario Lemieux and the deep pockets of his partner, Rob Burkle, form a formidable ownership group. General manager Ray Shero, who has built a team that will compete for championships for the next decade, is considered at the very top of his field.
And then there is Bylsma, the coach who won a Stanley Cup after less than four months on the job and who has cemented his status atop his field by guiding the Penguins to success this season despite dealing with injuries to stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal.
"I still think back to when we hired Dan," Shero said. "After his first game, we sat down and talked for about an hour. He was so impressive. I remember calling (former president) Ken Sawyer and saying, 'I think this guy is impressive. We'll see how he does.' And we saw how he did."
Shero's hunch was right on the money.
Bylsma has the best winning percentage in team history and only trails Eddie Johnston and Mike Therrien for the most victories in franchise history.
Not bad for a guy who just turned 40.
A master motivator who clearly compels the Penguins to play hard on a nightly basis, Bylsma's preference for up-tempo hockey -- getting to the Penguins' game, as he would say -- has been the perfect fit for this squad.
"You never know how things will translate when you bring someone new to coach," Shero said. "But, he's been great."
The Penguins historically dump coaches on an almost annual basis, but something feels different about Bylsma's reign. He is young, his team is young and Bylsma has proven successful with and without stars at his disposal.
This job is clearly his for the foreseeable future, a luxury no coach in Penguins history has enjoyed.
"I've been made aware several times of the longevity of Pittsburgh Penguins coaches," he said. "When I was hired, Ray Shero gave me the opportunity to coach the team for one game."
Bylsma's point simply was that he will never take this job for granted. Like the team he coaches, Bylsma is hungry to keep winning.
"I'm going to be the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins until someone tells me I'm not," he said.
Team history says he will ultimately be shown the door at some point. Recent precedent suggests otherwise.
These are the new, wealthy, sophisticated and stable Penguins. And Bylsma surely will be their coach for a very long time.
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