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If Penguins fire Bylsma, Rangers ready to pounce

Jun 8, 2013, 3:24 PM EDT

Dan Bylsma AP

The Penguins’ disappointing finish in the Eastern Conference finals has some out there thinking it might lead to Dan Bylsma being fired as their head coach. While that seems drastic, there’s one team ready to talk to him to be their bench boss should that happen.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post says if the Pens should part ways with Bylsma, the New York Rangers would move the 42 year-old Stanley Cup-winning coach to the top of their list of replacements for the fired John Tortorella. Of course, the Penguins would have to grant permission to speak with him so there’s that roadblock, but if they parted ways with the guy it’s a bit mean to not let him find another job.

As it is now, their list of candidates includes Alain Vigneault, Lindy Ruff, Dallas Eakins and former captain Mark Messier. Vigneault is believed to be the front-runner at the moment, but if Bylsma or Phoenix coach Dave Tippett became available that could change quickly. Tippett, however, remains firm that he wants to stay in Phoenix.

That said, if Bylsma does get swept out by GM Ray Shero, the Rangers won’t be alone in wanting to pursue him.

  1. elwaysmilehighdenver - Jun 8, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    Bylsma is not the reason the Pens got swept. Can any sportswriter give the Boston D their just due???

    • pensswag91 - Jun 8, 2013 at 3:55 PM

      Boston played lights out, no one can deny that. But Bylsma deserves at least a good amount of the blame, he was unable to implement a Plan B for beating Boston’s defense.

      • ethanmacleod1685 - Jun 8, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        Especially with their fire power

    • ucaneverscorenoughgoals - Jun 8, 2013 at 4:11 PM

      I’ve actually been a Bylsma fan, but Bylsma may actually be the reason the Pens got swept. He should have had a game plan prepared to specifically pick Boston apart and he didn’t. He allowed his best players to continually be reactors from Game 1 to Game 4. And, he continued to think throwing pucks at the net and banging the bruins D would be more effective than creating intense traffic in front of net and pushing around the bruins Goaltender.

    • gallyhatch - Jun 8, 2013 at 7:44 PM

      Penguins lost their composure in game 1, and didn’t show up in game 2. Pitt didn’t start playing until game 3. . . . Bylsma did not have them ready to play this series. If that’s not poor coaching, I don’t know what is.

  2. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jun 8, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    I can’t see Bylsma going anywhere just yet. If next year yields the same result then he’s probably toast, but to fire him now would be way too reactionary.

    • pensswag91 - Jun 8, 2013 at 3:53 PM

      This is his fourth straight year of coming up short of expectations. But if it’s not Bylsma’s head rolling, then whose?

      • nofunleague - Jun 8, 2013 at 4:39 PM

        appoint a new captain and get rid of the boy wonder.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jun 9, 2013 at 12:10 AM

        I didn’t even realize the Pens haven’t been playing as well as they should have been for four years now. Only last year’s meltdown comes to mind. But if that’s the case then perhaps Byslma won’t be around much longer.

    • stakex - Jun 8, 2013 at 3:58 PM

      Not really. Last year the Pens were picked by many, and were the odds on favorite to win the Cup… and were blown out in the first round by a very so-so Flyers team that was then themselves blown out by the Devils. This year the Pens had two easy series against weak teams, but were embarrassed when they faced another top contender. These last two years followed two other lackluster playoff showings by one of the NHLs top teams.

      So it wouldn’t be a reactionary move at all. It would be a move based on four years of failing to meet lofty expectations.

    • kotteintheslot - Jun 8, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      I disagree. Remember that Bylsma inherited a team that went to the Stanley Cup the previous year when he won his cup. Since then he has had 4 disappointing years in the playoffs with a team that was picked as the favorite most years. Since that Stanley Cup he is 12-14 in the playoffs…

      • 19to77 - Jun 8, 2013 at 5:01 PM

        You’ve got a point, kotte. Bylsma excels in delivering regular-season victories, but then the team has meltdowns in the playoffs. Somebody finds a way under their skin and for all the praise he earns, Bylsma can’t calm them down or get them back on track. They just flame out and he can’t seem to stop it.

        That said, I don’t think it’s entirely his fault. Look at their on-ice leaders. Everything wrong with Crosby as a captain was made apparent in this series. Malkin is a force in the clutch, but not really a vocal follow-me type of guy. Orpik is a veteran, but again not really that guy. And Kunitz? Why the hell is Chris Kunitz wearing an “A” to begin with? They need veterans with more mental toughness to keep the locker room under control when faced with adversity. Crosby can’t do that when he’s the first one throwing tantrums and screaming at the refs. He actively makes the problem worse by being the first to lose his composure.

      • Windmiller4 - Jun 8, 2013 at 7:22 PM

        Says a lot about crosbys leadership when they bring in 2 captains at deadline.

    • ethanmacleod1685 - Jun 8, 2013 at 4:49 PM

      Disagree, I think he was the key reason why they lost, it’s not just that he couldn’t get their offender going, it almost like there was a cultural problem. They were way too cute with the puck, too many no look passes and maybe a lack of chemistry.

  3. Ahj60 - Jun 8, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    It was 4 straight but they were in 3 games. Come on Pittsburgh settle down

  4. steelers88 - Jun 8, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    Dan Byslma should not get fired. Is it his fault that the “supposedly” two greatest players played like crap in this series NO! Is it his fault that Flurey had another meltdown NO! Is it his fault that the PP went 0-15 NO! And is it his fault that the Penguins only scored 2 goals NO! Byslma should stay on as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    • 19wasthebest - Jun 8, 2013 at 6:43 PM

      The answer to all your questions is yes. It is him who is the head coach. It is HIS offensive system that HIS team plays. He designs the plays. And when you have in all Pittsburg fans own words the BEST (choke) 2 players in the world (cough) that he coaches, yes it is HIS FAULT…..

  5. stakex - Jun 8, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    While a long shot this would ever happen, I really hope Bylsma never ends up with the Rangers.

    Bylsma was handed one of the best teams in the NHL, and he struggles to get the most out of them as it is. In fact, his shift from a well balanced team that won the cup to a run and gun team that’s been embarrassed in the playoffs two years in a row shows he really isn’t a great coach. He doesn’t seem to get it that strong defense is more important than a strong offense when it comes to the playoffs. If the Rangers want to win a Cup anytime soon, a coach that doesn’t do defense seems like a really bad idea.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Jun 9, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      Then why did Torts not succeed with the Rangers? His focus was clearly defense and shot blocking, but the team always fell well short of expectations. I’m assuming your response will be something of the tune of: “he clashed too much with his players”. But still, the system he had in place was a failure in the playoffs. I think it’s better to have a balanced approach, like the Kings did a year ago. This year’s Kings squad focused mainly on defense and it cost them dearly. I guess it could be argued that the Bruins emphasize defense, but I’d call them more defensively-responsible than defensively-orientated. They are balanced, as are the blackhawks.

      But I do agree that Bylsma doesn’t seem to care about his own zone enough. IMO, he’s not a great tactician nor a great motivater, he’s been shielded by a roster with multiple stars who fill up the score sheet. Overrated in my mind. I would like to see Dave Tippett get a job with a real contender, then we could see a truly effective defensive system in action in the playoffs.

  6. malkinrulez - Jun 8, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    stakex 2 “easy” teams? No one was hotter than the Islanders and Ottawa had arguably the best goalie in the NHL. That being said if you plan on firing Bylsma who is going to replace him? The idea of firing for the sake of change is ridiculous.The Bruins played great and goaltender played amazing, how about giving credit where credit is due. Add to that the Pens had no puck luck. Bruins earned all they got, not sure how Bylsma could have changed the result. I say he should stay .

  7. 950003cups - Jun 8, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    They got swept because of a few factors all falling in place at the same time:

    A) Boston got a tremendous amount of bounces in their direction.

    B) when Pens’ stars were shut down, nobody stepped up. Which is key to every series. That’s playoff hockey in a nutshell.

    C) Rask was playing out of his mind

    That’s the reason for a sweep.

    But they had no shot in the series from the drop of the puck. Boston learned Pittsburgh’s weakness. He physical and Pens will crumble.

    What Pittsburgh should have learned last year from NJ is, when a team brings a physical game to you, don’t fall in to the trap. That’s how NJ beat Philly in 5 last year. That’s also why Pittsburgh was dropped in round one that year.

    If you’re not as tough, don’t act like you are. You’ll be beaten at that game every day.

  8. blackhawks2010 - Jun 8, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Pens arrived to the playoffs dead on arrival. They should of list to Islanders and Ottawa was not playoff ready. Bruins were the first decent team they played and look what happened. Pens were terrible, no defense whatsoever.

  9. live4hockey - Jun 8, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    Really you say no defense what so ever, when they only score 2 goals in 4 games?! Wow that’s special! Not to mention they only allowed 3 goals in the last 8 periods of hockey. Take out game 2 and in 3 games they gave up 6 goals…stop regurgitating what fans of others say that don’t even watch them play and come up with an original thought.
    Of course the defense can improve, but the bottom line was that they couldn’t put the puck in the net.

  10. pdmjr - Jun 8, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Bylsma will be back according to the Pens network dude

  11. DED - Jun 8, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    I don’t get why the Rangers would pick him up. If it’s his fault the Penguins haven’t won the Cup four years in a row (which I think is a ridiculous assumption–EA Sports predictions notwithstanding), why would coming to NY to coach a team that has far less firepower be a good idea?

    And why should Shero fire the guy who was at the helm when the Penguins *did* win the Cup? Has his “shelf life” expired too?

  12. c1md6 - Jun 8, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    Ugh I hope not for the Rangers sake, they need a balanced coach. They had torts who’s all defense then to go to an all offense guy, they just don’t have the depth for that:

  13. broadstreetbeatdown - Jun 8, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    Bylsma can deliver during the regular season but just flat out sucks in the post season. 2009 was the team that Therrien built up and went back to back finals. You know the same guy who turned a horrible Habs squad around this year. Disco Dan has no plan B once a little adversity is put on this group of divas. Personally, as a Flyers fan I would love for them to keep him just to watch more monumental collapses by the cup favorites. maybe he should hold another mustache contest.

    • hazlydose - Jun 8, 2013 at 7:38 PM

      The Therrien turned around that Canadiens team then got demolished by Ottowa and whined the entire series. That Michael Therrien?

      • broadstreetbeatdown - Jun 8, 2013 at 7:47 PM

        Yeah the same Michel Therrien. He was Crosby’s coach. So I guess thats where Cindy learned how to get demolished and whine all series long against Boston.

      • thesportsjudge - Jun 9, 2013 at 6:03 PM

        I think therrien is an average at best coach. He isn’t as bad as some teams he has coached, but he was over credited with some of the better ones. I also think Montreal overachieved this year, but are not nearly as bad as they were last year.

  14. odj810 - Jun 8, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    to much gets blamed on coaches. not enough on players. I’m a bruins fan who loves claude. I see blysma as a top 5 head coach in this league. if he lost the room then you have to move on. but if his players still want to play for this guy your not going to do better.

  15. wisdomnfl - Jun 8, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    You poor pathetic flyer fans still posting on pens articles. You really need to get over the fact that your team hasn’t won the cup in almost 40 years. Bashing the pens and posting “Cindy” helps lessen the depression I guess. Sad. Watch the Phillies or something! Get your mind off the pens!

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Jun 8, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      I didn’t know we weren’t allowed to post on articles highlighting how badly you guys suck and what a mentally weak team you have. 1975? sure whatever. How does the fact that Flyers fans are posting erase the fact that your hapless hens scored two goals in four games, 0 on the PP in a playoff series. Now thats pathetic.

    • thesportsjudge - Jun 9, 2013 at 6:05 PM

      Your post brought nothing to the table. You should also like the fact that others teams’ fans are posting on a Pens topic. It is what your organization and the NHL want, the Pens to be the most talked about team.

  16. letsgopens8771 - Jun 8, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    There is no way that the Penguins lose with this much talent. Bylsma has proven that he can be repeatedly outcoached in the playoffs leading to embarrassing failure. You have to change how you coach and how you play in the playoffs. That’s just a fact. I mean, look at the Bruins. They played three different ways against three different teams. That is how you coach in the playoffs. Proving that Offense sells tickets, and defense wins championships. Instead, what does he do? He changes the lineups. That’s it. Bylsma is offense first and doesn’t even think about defense. He does not know how to coach in the playoffs or adapt. He wasn’t assertive with his players (like benching Iginla when he sucked and benching Letang when he kept turning it over and playing absolutely horrid). Fire Bylsma immediately and Hire Tony Granato. New York, if you want him, be my guest. If you have Bylsma, you won’t realize how good you had it with Torts.

    • chanceoffleury1 - Jun 9, 2013 at 2:03 AM

      I’d hesitate to say Torts is the answer to any team’s coaching question marks. Bylsma and Torts are essentially the exact opposite of each other. Bylsma wants to be their best friend and Torts wants to be their dictator. One will have your players believing that as long as their trying whatever the outcome is is okay, and the other will have your players thinking anything less than perfection means they suck and are worthless. Neither is the answer. There is a happy medium between those two.

      Julien is a great example of that right now. He’s not afraid to call a player out when they aren’t trying or delivering enough (Lucic earlier this year) but he will also be the first to praise them when they turn it around and do something right. This playoff season (not just this series) has made me respect Julien more as a coach. And going back to the Ottawa series I feel the same way about MacLean. Both are really, really great coaches. I feel like nowadays teams go through coaches like bath water so it’s hard for me to keep up with whether every coach is living up to expectations and so I am never very knowledgeable of coaches outside the Atlantic. Julien is a really great coach, though. As is MacLean. Boston and Ottawa are lucky. They both expect players to push their limits and deliver while still having reasonable expectations for the situation they are put in. I doubt Julien was verbally beating his players into the ground after the second period of Game 7 vs Toronto, but I also doubt he’s telling them they are the greatest thing since sliced bread right now after squashing the Pens and Rangers. Bylsma and the Pens bought their own hype and that was a major factor in what did them in.

  17. beaver15 - Jun 8, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    1943…totally agree

  18. steelers88 - Jun 8, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Penguins beat writer Josh Yohe says his gut tells him that Byslma stays because him and Ray Shero are really good friends.

  19. 8man - Jun 8, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    Vigneault is the better choice. Of course, if the Pens do sack Bylsma, they could pick up Vigneault.

    The NYR better decide who they want and secure him.

  20. steelers88 - Jun 8, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    You know Broadstreetbeatdown your totally right the Penguins played like crap while the Bruins played really great. Something has to be done to shakeup this team. It’s starting to get a little ridiculous how the Pens always collapse in the playoffs. It’s funny how “supposedly” the two best players in the NHL couldn’t score in this series. Also game 1 really opened my eyes it seemed like Crosby after every play was complaining to the refs. I was even getting kind of annoyed by Crosby’s antics in game 1.

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Jun 8, 2013 at 10:30 PM

      All kidding aside, I have no idea why this team continually collapses in the playoffs. They are a scary team to play against when they are on but it seems to me they are extremely mentally and emotionally soft. Once a little adversity is put on this team they fold. Personally, I think its a lack of role players on the 2010-2013 teams. When they won the cup they had guys like Talbot, Fedotenko, Gill. These are guys when thrown into a roster of superstars make a dangerous mix and I think these are the types of guys this team has been missing since winning the cup. As far as Crosby goes I have always said that he is arguably one of the best playing the game but his BS antics detract from his game and disgust most fans not rooting for the left side of PA. One would think after 7 years in the league he would cut the crap, but hey, “he deserves better”.

      • mmmpierogi - Jun 9, 2013 at 1:01 AM

        After a year or two of following the boards on here regularly, I would say this is the first post of yours with which I agree wholeheartedly (not meant to be snarky at you, by the way, so don’t take it that way). Over the past couple of years, the Pens have reacted to playoff adversity in a really, really soft or almost nonchalant manner. The Philly series last year displayed it, and I feel as though the Boston series this year displayed it again (in the first game or two against Boston, I wondered whether the Pens would fly apart from a disciplinary perspective like they did against the Flyers last year, but it didn’t happen — although the hole had already been dug). Even though the two series looked really different in terms of how the Bruins and Flyers played and approached the Penguins, there were similarities between the two. I also agree with you about the roster issues … they offensive firepower is there, but the role guys are almost completely absent (Gill, Fedetenko, Scuderi … Guerin, Roberts)?

        That said …

        I still can’t put it all on Bylsma to the point where I think it’s worth dismissing him. In spite of the playoff performances, the team has performed well during the regular season with some adversity at times (e.g., key players being injured for extended periods of time, the entire team seemingly being decimated by injuries and yet still doing alright). Admittedly, I tend to emphasize long-run performance over what happens in any given year during the playoffs, but the idea of dropping Bylsma at this point seems too reactionary and media-driven.

  21. wranglerick - Jun 8, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    Seems like the team wasn’t hungry enough. Even with so so goalies, theres enough talent on that team for a serious cup run. Credit Boston rolling lines at the right time.

  22. redridershoottheireyeout - Jun 8, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    Blaming the coach for a lacklustre performance from an overpaid bunch of prima donna whiners is ridiculous.

  23. bwomped - Jun 9, 2013 at 2:36 AM

    Gotta go. He won his cup with Michel Tarriens team. Ray Shero went out and got some of the best possible talent to make this run. I say it was more out coached than outplayed. True, Bruins d and Tuka Rask were on fire but, it was definitely a coaching error. Four straight? Yeah, the best two in the league because they’ve earned it. What cup has Hendrick Lindquist win?

  24. massconn72 - Jun 10, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    I said from the beginning that bringing in Morrison and Iginla was a mistake. They completely ruin the chemistry in the locker room. If anybody should be fired it should be the GM or whomever was responsible for that.

  25. jax2626 - Jun 10, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    While it was disappointing, lets remember that:

    They were 1st in Eastern Conference
    They had the 2nd most points in the league
    They made it to the conference finals

    Firing Bylsma would be idiotic – who would you replace him with that is available and had better results? Like I said, it’s disappointing that they did not make it to the finals but to consider the season a failure of the magnitude that should cost a coach his job is pretty short-sighted. I guarentee he would have another job within 5 days.

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