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If the Pens lose tonight, is Bylsma gone?

May 13, 2014, 11:36 AM EST

Dan Bylsma AP

From the Associated Press:

And now coach Dan Bylsma finds himself 60 minutes away from either taking the Penguins back to the conference finals for the third time in six years or possibly looking for work.

From The Tennessean:

The coach is almost always the fall guy, and since Dan Bylsma took over in 2009, he has won just one Stanley Cup with superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin – and been to just one Stanley Cup Final, the one in 2009.

From the Globe and Mail:

A win Tuesday night in Game 7 of their second-round NHL playoff series against the New York Rangers means head coach Dan Bylsma and his confounding players can turn to management and say, “Hey, now we’re in our fourth conference final in the last six years. We must be great.”

A loss, though, means owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle look at general manager Ray Shero and say, “This is the fifth consecutive year your team was knocked out of the playoffs by a lower-seeded opponent. Tell us why you, Bylsma and most of the players should not be sacked.”

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

… if the Penguins lose tonight, it will be the fifth consecutive year they will have been eliminated from the playoffs by a lower seed. They will be just 4-5 in postseason series since they won the Stanley Cup in 2009 under Bylsma. This elimination, should it happen, will hurt more than most because the Penguins had what seemed to be a secure 3-1 series edge.

No ownership can be expected to put up with that underachievement.

You get the picture. If the Penguins lose tonight, it’s expected that head coach Dan Bylsma will be fired.

Not that there’s any hard evidence to support that expectation; just a lot of whispers and speculation, combined with Pittsburgh’s multiple postseason disappointments since Bylsma led the Pens to a championship in 2009.

It’s not new, the speculation.

“I’m not coaching, don’t coach, have never coached for my job,” Bylsma said almost a year ago, right before his Pens were swept by Boston in the Eastern Conference Final, with Pittsburgh scoring just two goals in the four games against the Bruins.

Just days later, there was a report that ownership may ask management to relieve the coach of his duties. Instead, Bylsma was given a two-year contract extension, and at least one more chance.

And by “at least,” if you believe the speculation, we mean “only.”

  1. c9castine - May 13, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    oh look, new material.

    thanks Jason Brough. we havent talked about this 9 million times yet.

    • joey4id - May 13, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      Back off c9. Seriously. I mean it.

      • President Charles Logan - May 13, 2014 at 1:10 PM

        lol shut the fk up you little twit with 20 screen names

      • cyggyx1 - May 13, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        Free speech is the American way. Can’t take criticism, don’t be a sports writer who criticizes professionals daily, get it? Seriously….

    • imleftcoast - May 13, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      It’s a big story on Vancouver sports radio. Hoping AV can pull this off so we can trade Kesler, and hire Bylsma as coach. It’s probably Gillis’s fault there wasn’t a Kesler deal at the deadline (although Aquilini is a big Kesler fan). No so sure hiring Bylsma is the best idea if the Canucks are rebuilding.

      • c9castine - May 13, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        interesting.

    • elmerbrownelmerbrown - May 13, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      Crysby will determine Baldsma’s
      fate

  2. kastout11 - May 13, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    If the Pens do not come out with intensity, then it is a coaching problem. They are facing one of the top 5 goaltenders in the world, so even if this lose, I would keep him. He is probably one of the top 5, maybe 10 coaches in the NHL. Firing him would not solve the problems they have. I also don’t think the Penguins are built for the playoffs. Just me.

    • hockey412 - May 13, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      I don’t know – part of the problem with the Pens (that I see) is lack of intensity (or rather, intensity that comes and goes), but another part is lack of discipline. For all the talent they have, they’re near the top in turnovers this post-season, and it’s all a matter of too many fancy, cross-ice, no-look passes. May not seem it, but it’s a coaching issue. Dan may not have the clout to correct, because he didn’t demand it (and can’t now). It’s the reason that Mario has to step in at the end of these games. I like the guy a lot on a personal level. But they really need a leader in that locker room.

      And for the love of god there is no adjustment in strategy EVER. I understand sticking to “our” game, but when it’s not working, make an adjustment. AND NOT JUST LINE ADJUSTMENTS. end rant.

      • c9castine - May 13, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        412, mario isnt “stepping in”. its just a story because of the time and the result of the game.

        hes in the locker room after half the games during the season.

        they have made plenty of adjustments. they play a completely different nuetral zone system than they did last year, or even during the second half of the season.

      • hockey412 - May 13, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        I still feel like it’s why he’s there, though (whether it be in these games or during the season in general – I think he’s trying to provide a leadership that one would hope to get from the coach). I could be wrong, Dan could be stronger/harder on them than I’m seeing, I just see a buddy-buddy coach. I don’t see them making adjustments in-game or in-series, is what I mean. Not talking abotu strategies, to be honest. For example – the Pens have about a dozen turnovers this series because they keep taking the puck out of their end on the wing, and as soon as they are at their blue line try a cross-ice pass to the other wing. Probably trying for a center lane drive attempt, maybe just to get the puck out wide, who knows…but it hasn’t worked for 2 games now. McDonagh, especially, has picked it off almost every time for two games by just stepping up. These are just plays. If it isn’t working, try something different (when they’re onto you, they’re onto you). Like I said I like the guy, just get tired of seeing the same things attempted.

      • c9castine - May 13, 2014 at 12:53 PM

        just because he doesnt publically lambaste his players and call them out to please fans doesnt mean he doesnt talk to them like professionals behind closed doors and tell them they are doing the wrong things.

        they know they are doing the wrong things they tell us after every crap loss.

        relax and watch a good game tonight. idk. not sure how long youve been a fan watching playoff hockey but its been a long time for me and ive seen many ups and downs and disappointments and excitements. the 90s were full of playoff mediocrity after we won twice. a lot of teams struggle to do better or even make it to the playoffs at all. this is just another series. when we won the cup we went down 2-0 in two series. there are going to be ups and downs the question is can you remain steady and continue to fight to win?

        game 7 man. let it play out then we can talk.

      • whammy71 - May 13, 2014 at 1:03 PM

        Hey c9….are you really Bylsma’s Mom??? You defend him like you are. Just wondering.

      • maalea - May 13, 2014 at 1:41 PM

        The true nature of Pens fans comes out, when they don’t have the Flyers to use as a rallying point of hate, they turn their childishness on each other.

      • hockey412 - May 13, 2014 at 2:44 PM

        I don’t dislike c9, actually I enjoy his point of view and most times we agree. We don’t necessarily agree on Bylsma, but hell that’s ok with me. We were discussing our differing points on it…which is kind of the whole crux of the article, right? I don’t think either of us were being childish, though you can make the point that any comment on sites like these are inherently childish.

      • maalea - May 13, 2014 at 5:20 PM

        That was directed to whammy. You and c9 are some of the good Pens fans.

      • hockey412 - May 14, 2014 at 8:58 AM

        Oh, yeah – Whammy’s always an idiot.

  3. steelpenbucs87 - May 13, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    Ahem…

    *clears throat*

    Yes.

    • apkyletexas - May 13, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      Yes. As a lifelong Pens fan, I say yes he’s gone if he loses. Deservedly so.

      And I also say he has 10 teams trying to hire him the next day. Teams are probably already getting calls in to his agent. And the Pens will be damn lucky to find someone that can take this soft team back to the finals.

      Amazing that 5 years later, no one has looked back at the 2009 team and noticed that that team was chock full of guys who would absolutely kill themselves on defense. What the hell happened to that team? Give everyone a little taste of champagne, and they don’t want to get dirty or bloody anymore?

      Shero doesn’t want to re-sign the scrappers and the penalty killers? This team hasn’t even been terribly enjoyable to watch since then. Why would you ever let a guy like Talbot leave? Why would you never find a replacement for a true leader like Guerin? The makeup of this team makes no sense.

  4. patthehockeyfan - May 13, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    Good job, Jason. Can’t wait to see the comments. I’m guessing over 100?

    Why does one of the most, if not THE most, talented teams in the NHL (Chicago a close, close second) have playoff problems? While not a Pens’ fan, I’m wishing that they take this series. I don’t dislike the Rangers. I think the Pens had a great year, and have the talent to win.

    As far as Bylsma, I was surprised at his two-year extension last year. I have an email friend in Pittsburgh to whom I wrote at the time that, if Bylsma didn’t take the Pens to the SC Finals this year, he’d be bought out.

    We’ll see.

  5. JoeAvg - May 13, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    His time is (should be) up regardless. This team has been making the same mistakes over and over for years. Sure there are times when they play as they should, and when they do they’re hard to beat. But also when they do, be it a period, a game, a week – then they slip right back into the Globetrotter crap that gets them into trouble. These playoffs have shown this in microcosm. They come out strong against CBJ, take a big lead, then lose focus and blow it. Ditto the series NYR. They need someone who can reel in the egos better.

    It’s time for Trotz!

    • pitpenguinsrulez - May 13, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      No I don’t want Trotz. Getting Trotz means we become the Nashville Penguins. I’d rather have someone else.

      • broadstreetsbaddest88 - May 13, 2014 at 8:19 PM

        They probably try the ahl coach experiment again from Wilkes barre pens with John hynes. They’ve been playin good under him. I think pens need a veteran coach though an some pieces moved. This falls under shero too not just Bylsma. There’s a few areas he hasn’t fixed the last few years.

  6. dueman - May 13, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    Gotta love the media. You can always count on them wanting to hang someone…

  7. comeonnowguys - May 13, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Please don’t fire him. His undivided attention to the US team will make things even worse for them.

  8. penguins87and71 - May 13, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    Yes, he should be.

  9. djshnooks - May 13, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    He sucks, he blew the Olympics when he shouldn’t have even been the coach.

    • avscup - May 13, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      Blew the Olympics? You mean you actually watched Kane play like a peewee but want to blame the coach?

      At some point, players have to play. Sure they need leadership, but they also need to step up.

      Penguins have not stepped up. Period. I hope they do though.

  10. djshnooks - May 13, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    He’s a top-5 coach? Lol. He’s terrible.

    There’s coaches winning more with less talent. And again, he couldn’t even medal in the Olympics with all that talent.

    He’s overrated and he’s stayed too long.

    And I don’t care about that team either way…I just think he sucks. Lindy Ruff would have won more Stanley Cups than him in that time period with that much talent.

    • illashell - May 13, 2014 at 3:47 PM

      THANK YOU. Last year I was all about dropping him, since there were viable replacements. Now… i’m not so sure.

  11. joey4id - May 13, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    Should be the end for Bylsma.

    joey4id – Apr 16, 2014 at 1:00 PM
    Everyone is a little nervous in the Pitt organization. There is a lot of pressure on Bylsma. He’s got to have a good run otherwise he might be gone. Crosby and Malkin are under the microscope because they have to be better than they were vs the Bs last year. Fleury is under a ton of pressure to be better in this post season than he was last year. Finally, Jacques Martin and his whole defensive system has to be better.

    • c9castine - May 13, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      wow joey.

      they have to be good, and be better.

      brilliant analysis. we havent read that kind of stuff anywhere for the last two years…nope. sure havent.

      • joey4id - May 13, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        Thank you. ;-)

  12. rsl22 - May 13, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    As a Caps fan, who was disappointed with Team USA’s play, I can’t really agree that he should be fired.

    The fact is that the Pens defense isn’t that great. It’s not better than NYR, Boston, Chicago, LA’s. If you want to win, you win from the back end. It’s why the Caps have gotten worse year after year.

    In short, firing him would be a mistake. The Pens have some younger D in the pipeline, and can always pick one up because every FA loves going to Pitt. But I can’t see who would go in there and be better without improving the blue line.

    • c9castine - May 13, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      well, the Pens had the 7th ranked defense this year so your either talking out of your ass not knowing what your saying, or Dan did that good of a job with a bad blue line corpse (which was decimated by injury pretty much all year and had rookies and AHLers playing together).

      • rsl22 - May 13, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        The Caps had solid defensive numbers in the past few regular years, and that’s because they were able to carry the offensive play for vast stretches of time against the majority of teams. Other teams didn’t get a chance to test their weak D. In the playoffs, you’re playing other great teams, and defensive mistakes lead to goals.

        And also, I’m not sure what metric you used for the “7th ranked defense,” but look at the teams ahead of them in terms of regular season goals against per game, and you’ll see how much defense matters…only one team left in the playoffs gave up more goals this season than Pitt:

        1. Los Angeles
        2. Boston
        4. Rangers
        7. Minnesota
        8. Montreal
        9. Anaheim
        10. Pittsburgh
        12. Chicago

      • c9castine - May 13, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        actually, i went by goals against and i double checked and missed one, they were 8th. they allowed 207. anaheim allowed 209. new jersey isnt on your list they allowed 208.

        where are you getting your numbers?

      • rsl22 - May 13, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        http://www.nhl.com/ice/teamstats.htm?fetchKey=20142ALLSAAALL&sort=avgGoalsAgainstPerGame&viewName=summary

      • c9castine - May 13, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        lol wtf? im confused.

        http://www.nhl.com/ice/standings.htm?season=20132014&sort=standingsGoalsAgainst&type=LEA

      • rsl22 - May 13, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        They were also 16th at 5-on-5.

        http://www.nhl.com/ice/teamstats.htm?fetchKey=20142ALLSAAALL&sort=goalsAgainst5On5&viewName=goalsAgainst

      • rsl22 - May 13, 2014 at 12:53 PM

        I honestly don’t understand why NHL’s stats are messed up, but you’re right that they have conflicting numbers.

      • c9castine - May 13, 2014 at 12:56 PM

        i guess maybe they are counting OT/shootout or something? that would be stupid but thats all i can think of, that they are doing it by minutes in the GAA instead of just simple number of games played.

        im not saying we have a stellar defense, but given the fact the a 19 year old rookie played on our top pairing much of the year a top 10 ranking is pretty solid and better than most people perceive us to be.

  13. capsgriff011 - May 13, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    As a Caps fan, with nothing better to do, who would they replace him with? Not sure there is a better coach out there.

    • jaybaileys - May 13, 2014 at 1:02 PM

      Jacqes Martin is in the on deck circle

  14. khar9 - May 13, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    All depends if players try or not with this team . Could have a garbage can sit behind the bench and could be the smartest coach ever if this team plays to its ability . That power play is tough to watch tho.. 2 many cooks in the kitchen and no bus boys to take out the garbage …

    • c9castine - May 13, 2014 at 1:03 PM

      haha love your powerplay analogy.

  15. billsboy88 - May 13, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    Short answer: Yes.

    Slightly longer answer: he should be

  16. petersteelewannabe - May 13, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    As a Flyers fan, I fear he gets the sack and they hire Barry Trotz. Blysma seems like a nice and likable guy but with the talent the Penguins have, somebody has to be held responsible for their under-performance every playoffs. Their lack of composure and subsequent tendency to get into the thuggery/goonery game in the playoffs, that’s their weakness…it’s either the Captain or the coach that fails to keep the team focused and Crosby isn’t going anywhere.

  17. billiam55 - May 13, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    should have been fired last year after that poor performance against boston.

  18. President Charles Logan - May 13, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    It’s a moot point cause the Pens arent going to lose .

    • miketoasty - May 13, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      I love your optimism!

  19. muckleflugga - May 13, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    i find myself in complete agreement with khar9’s arty and sagacious post … well done

    outcome, the oft mentioned lagging indicator, is all that seemingly matters in rating performance when we all know gate receipts and endorsement windfalls and beer and concession sales are the true determining values

    look at leafs, studs by every measure used by forbes magazine … duds by every measure used by fans and media feeding fans … where’s carlyle going

    missing in the debate, as in any coaching change debate, are variables beyond control and reach of maligned coaching … outside of a team’s guarded circle, who knows to what extent key players are hobbled, or the extent to which injuries are affecting team confidence … so much is hidden in effort to protect players asked to perform while still injured

    before race horses take to the track, unfit animals are scratched by safety and animal health minded veterinarians … punters are given opportunity to see the animals paraded literally inches away … one sees bandages, smells liniment, watches gait and can look the animal in the eye … deportment is everything … seeing the actual warmup completes the story

    looking at teams as seasons progress, players too show wear and tear and they sure as hell give away injuries and the extent to which they’re tired, simply through on-ice performance, and the manner in which they instinctively protect damaged tissue, muscle, tendon, ligament and bone while being attacked

    geno is not right, not by any measure … his foot and ankle injury are incomplete, and from where i sit, he appears to be playing under pain and likely drugged

    sidney is also hurting, and by lack of apparent kick in starting rushes or going for loose pucks, appears to have lower core issues, probably a groin … and his head is not right, his reaction time seems to have dropped even beyond that of ordinary players … the preternatural cognition the truly gifted seem to possess seems to be off kilter

    i’d be booking our sidney into care of a neurosurgeon … sooner than later

    letang … orpik …? the list goes on

    so, when assessing bylsma’s performance as coach, his achievement with these penguins may in fact be superior in measure

    look at accolades afforded mike babcock given wings’ performance against lost-time injuries … should bylsma be rated as babcock is rated, given penguins’ lost-time injury experience

    and what of twenty nine other coaches who will not win the cup, how does one rate their performance when odds of being the outright winner are one in thirty, regardless of lost-time injury burdens

    i can’t see bylsma going anywhere soon … and barry trotz …? can you see geno or sid responding to his routine lmao

    get some air

    • bru308 - May 13, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      Nice novel, bro!

      Thumbs up if you didn’t read it.

  20. whiskytango333 - May 13, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    I think if the Penguins lose this series, fans are actually going to be upset the Penguins didn’t bow out earlier and get a shot at Peter Laviolette. His style, offensive minded but more disciplinarian, would have done that locker room a world of good.

  21. arrow43050 - May 13, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Wow all those places writing that Bylsma is in trouble if the loses this series. He better start looking for work now because, you know, I read it on the internet so it must be true.

  22. tripps3 - May 13, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    If I’m the Pens, I’m more concerned about Sid’s lack of leadership

  23. penguins87and71 - May 13, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    I think if the Penguins lose this series, then this will be the year Byslma gets canned. Barry Trotz is available, and I’m pretty sure that coaching Crosby and Malkin would be pretty enticing, not to mention that Ray Shero was assistant GM in Nashville for 8 years while Trotz was the head coach.

  24. penguins87and71 - May 13, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    What about Ray Shero? He shouldn’t be off the hook either.

  25. barkar942 - May 13, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    THIS JUST IN!
    Byslma immediately released in Pittsburgh! Torts named new coach and will be behind the Pittsburgh bench tonight!

  26. drewsylvania - May 13, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    Time for a mod or two. This place has become full of screaming children.

  27. broadstreetbeatdown - May 13, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    Jacques Martin, your next head coaching gig awaits.

  28. stillerfaninfl - May 13, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    So long Dan. Mario is looking for your replacement already.

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