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Lemieux says Bylsma could ‘absolutely’ coach Penguins next year

May 16, 2014, 4:34 PM EDT

Dan Bylsma AP

The Pittsburgh Penguins fired general manager Ray Shero today. But in a bit of a surprise move, they didn’t fire head coach Dan Bylsma, instead choosing to leave the coaching decision to the new GM.

Could Bylsma really be back behind the Pens’ bench next season?

“Absolutely, that’s why we didn’t fire him,” co-owner Mario Lemieux told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s a good coach. Look at his record at his record in the regular season, in the playoffs. If he was fired today, there’d be a lot of teams lined up to get him.”

All sorts of theories have been floated trying to explain why the Pens decided, for now at least, to keep Bylsma. Here’s one of them, from the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle:

Lemieux went on to say he feels the Penguins’ roster lacked character this year, before adding a rather candid assessment of captain Sidney Crosby: “I think Sid’s been disappointed in his play for sure and we certainly feel the same way. He’s had a long year, especially with the Olympics. He would certainly be the first one to say that he didn’t play up to his expectations.”

  1. penvik - May 16, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    Bylsma simply can’t be back. He lost games single handedly for years. He admittedly doesn’t match lines, caters to veterans to a fault, mistreats rookies and stagnates the creativity and talent of the team with his grind em out system.
    Shero gave Bylsma the team of a lifetime last year, how can that be Shero’s fault?? This season I’ll agree, that lineup had no chance, but it’s not JUST this year. Other years the team should have rolled through the playoffs but yet something goes stale once the regular season ends. That’s not on Shero either. Firing Shero and not Bylsma is not moving forward. We need a coach that holds all players accountable, from star to AHL call up. Crosby has no excuse and any coach should chew him out about his compete level. If he says he was competing his hardest he needs to be told it isn’t enough and won’t be put up with. The same way Therrien used to bench Letang.

    • jernster21 - May 16, 2014 at 5:06 PM

      You realize that the mix between a grind it out system and guys with skill is what won them a cup right? The problem is that they don’t have the same personnel now that they did then when it was effective. You can blame that on the coach for not making adjustments, sure, but I think a GM hires a coach to instill a system that works for the personnel the team has – and it’s up to the architect of the team, the GM, to provide the necessary players to make it effective. Seems silly to me to say, hey, we won a cup with the team that fits your system, but I couldn’t keep those players, or bring in the guys to continually make it work, so now you have to change…good luck. And your example of Therrien benching Letang is laughable because Bylsma did the exact same thing to him when he played like garbage after his return.

      • mangoman1966 - May 16, 2014 at 9:34 PM

        When torts called the pens arrogant I think Mario took it personally. I have a better chance lg coaching the pens than torts.

    • barkar942 - May 16, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      I hear Torts knocking on Mario’s door!

      • fpstratton - May 16, 2014 at 5:16 PM

        Heaven forbid!

    • apkyletexas - May 16, 2014 at 5:45 PM

      Of course he could be back – at the end of the day no one who is available to replace him has the skins on the wall Bylsma does.

      Lemieux made a very good point today – they haven’t been bringing in high character guys to the team for several years now. That’s on Shero – not Bylsma. Plus, their drafts have been crap for 6 straight years.

      Yesterday I couldn’t wait to see Bylsma gone. Today, after reading all of Lemieux’s comments – I’m thinking “maybe”.

      • apkyletexas - May 16, 2014 at 5:47 PM

        And good on Lemieux for calling out Sid for a bad playoff performance. Crosby doesn’t have injuries any more – first time in 4 years. Now it’s time to turn it up a notch.

      • apkyletexas - May 16, 2014 at 7:11 PM

        ESPN and Pittsburgh sports reporter Mark Madden are running with a rumour that the Pens will keep Bylsma as a lame duck for a year, and then try to get Mike Babcock as a free agent from Detroit after next season. Could make for some interesting drama. Apparently Babcock has refused to sign a contract extension so far.

  2. elmerbrownelmerbrown - May 16, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    Is he gonna be behind the bench when the pens face the Hab this series ?

    • mangoman1966 - May 16, 2014 at 9:36 PM

      Is berube. Just saying

      • elmerbrownelmerbrown - May 16, 2014 at 11:20 PM

        Booooooooooo have your own thought

  3. stakex - May 16, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    There is a very small chance Bylsma will be the Pens coach next year. Mirtle is probably right… Bylsma likely hasn’t been fired yet because the Pens are worried about where he might land. If they wait a while before they dump him, not only will Shero and him probably not end up with the same team, but many of the open coaching jobs might already be filled. I mean do you think the Pens want a team like Washington to jump on Shero and Bylsma, or even just Bylsma? I highly doubt it.

    Its a business decision and an understandable one, but if that does end up being what happens… its kinda a scumbag move to do that to a coach that won you a Cup.

    • cntrice2010 - May 16, 2014 at 5:48 PM

      Come on….its completely ridiculous to suggest that Mario is keeping Bylsma for the sole purpose of preventing him from landing another coaching gig. Ownership isnt looking to stick it to the coaching staff cause they lost in the conference semis.

      Look at what happened in Vancouver, Carolina, and Toronto this year. In each case, there was a change in the GM/President of Hockey Ops BEFORE coaching. In Carolina and Vancouver, Francis and Linden decided a change was needed at head coach upon being hired, in Toronto – Shannahan decided to hang onto Carlyle.

      Pitt is no different – the new GM will talk to players, coaches, mgmt etc to get a more holistic perspective of what needs to change. Then a decision will be made. If Bylsma’s let go he’ll find another job – and it may be Washington, but Pitt isnt gonna play a waiting game with a team who didnt make the post season when they have to solve some serious problems within their own organization.

      Stop with these ridiculous theories.

      • stakex - May 16, 2014 at 6:18 PM

        Perhaps it really is just that they want the new GM to make the decision. That’s obviously possible.

        However its far from a ridiculous theory to think there is more to it than that. Owning and running a hockey team is all about business…. its not personal. So yes, I absolutely think Mario would make the business decision to delay his firing for reasons other than they have stated. Its actually pretty ridiculous to be so naïve as to think that’s not a real possibility.

        Also consider this: A lot of valid and reputable sources have reported that the decision to fire Bylsma has already been made (aside from those that reported he was already fired this morning), or at the very least that ownership wants him gone. Where there is a lot of smoke, there is usually fire, so why hasn’t he been fired yet if that’s the case?

    • chanceoffleury - May 16, 2014 at 6:05 PM

      It seems like an effective plan for the immediate future, but when you look past the next 3 months it’s not like Pittsburgh will be able to micromanage where he ends up in the long run. If that’s their plan he’d probably just pull a Laviolette and wait it out. I still think the reason Laviolette didn’t take a coaching job mid-season is because he wanted his pick of the litter and didn’t want to just go to whoever throws him the first offer. He knows the fact he’s coached perennial playoff teams and cup winners will keep him on every team that’s looking’s radar. Even teams that hire mid-season usually keep an open mind and are willing to keep the interview seat open into the offseason if they know a good candidate like Laviolette is still available and potentially interested. In the end Bylsma will be able to get the last laugh if he plays his cards right. They can’t control the outcome forever and he’ll have a chance to redeem himself. Somebody who’s the fastest coach in history to reach 200 wins won’t stay on the market for long. He’ll definitely have some power in his decision of where he wants to go.

      • 16thearlofderby - May 16, 2014 at 6:24 PM

        pens need a coach for one year

        bylsma has one year left on his contract

        babcock as one year left on his contract

        crosby ok with bylsma

        crosby ok with babcock gold medal connection

    • President Charles Logan - May 16, 2014 at 7:29 PM

      stakex you really are the biggest know nothing but try and know everything wanna-be this forum has ever seen.. well you and your buddy joeyidblomfeld

    • mangoman1966 - May 16, 2014 at 11:54 PM

      Who cares where he goes to coach. He couldn’t coach teams built to win. Why do we care where he coaches. Its all about the horses. If he has the horses winning isn’t guaranteed bylsma will win. Hell we screwed up firing Mike therien.

    • c9castine - May 17, 2014 at 12:05 AM

      shut up and read.

  4. flyboystransport - May 16, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    Teams are gonna be lining up for him? Really? What are there 3 teams looking for coaches right now? I think trotz and torts get hired first

    • schaefer692002 - May 16, 2014 at 5:34 PM

      He did a great job screwing up the olympic team too! Bylsma is a big game choke artist! Shero gave this moron the best players in the world and Bylsma cant make the adjustments needed during a game or series to win! BOTTOM LINE, SHERO TOOK THE FALL FOR THIS IDIOT!

      • mangoman1966 - May 16, 2014 at 9:43 PM

        Agree 100 per cent. Gave him an all star team last season. Time for a change.

      • c9castine - May 17, 2014 at 12:10 AM

        what position does dan play i dont think ive seen him play yet.

        which i had a dollar for every time i heard somebody use the word “adjustments” in a sentence with dan’s name in it like they have any idea what they are talking about.

    • stakex - May 16, 2014 at 5:38 PM

      I like Torts, and defend the guy when most wont…. but its hard to see him ending up with a job this season. That suspension is going to hang over him for a while I think.

  5. penvik - May 16, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    Jernster, give it up bud.
    Therrien was much more adept at keeping the players accountable. The work he’s done with Montreal proves how much of a mistake letting him go was. The team DID rally around Bylsma for the cup but we’ve went downhill every year since. I remember when they bought into Therriens system there were games when I thought we could never lose. I haven’t seen hockey like that in 5 years. And NO, us fans would love Bylsma coaching a competitor, it would guarentee them a clubhouse atmosphere and no mental strength whatsoever. We WANT Bylsma and Shero in Washington, please!! That would pretty much bury that organization.

  6. c1md6 - May 16, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    Jeez enough with the Penguins, they’re done. Eliminated. You would think there wasn’t a game 7 tonight. This website is for the nhl right? Or is it strictly penguins?

    • bobc74 - May 16, 2014 at 7:22 PM

      Um, there are articles on here about other teams. Yet you made a special trip here to write that comment. You could have just passed on by.

    • mangoman1966 - May 16, 2014 at 9:45 PM

      Beat it my man. Your in over your head with these guys. Talking eastern cont. Hockey.

  7. westof1club - May 16, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Seems like someone here is gonna be whining until the start of next season

  8. ducksk - May 16, 2014 at 5:54 PM

    No one knows exactly what Mario is thinking, except of course Mario. I’ll guarantee he has a plan. He is not holding on to DB just to let other jobs DB by. Mario is above that, I think. Quit reading too much into every quote, blog or BS your hearing. Time will tell soon enough. Hey, I had a blast following the pens, they fell short again. Get over it. Not like there are 6 teams in the league and someone can win 29 cups. Relax. Unless you are Mario or the new GM, the press and the blogs are just guessing.

  9. penguins87and71 - May 16, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    This organization is a mess right now, I can’t even trust ownership.

    • mangoman1966 - May 16, 2014 at 9:55 PM

      This team went from the model franchise to a bunch of underachievers. The fans deserved better. Don’t want to hear bout the regular season. Playoffs is where its at

  10. 7mantel - May 16, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Is the coaches salary figured in the cap ?

    • 16thearlofderby - May 16, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      joking right

      • 7mantel - May 16, 2014 at 6:35 PM

        No, sorry to say after 55 years of following hockey I don’t follow that stuff as close as you younger guys .

      • 16thearlofderby - May 16, 2014 at 6:42 PM

        heard of the NHLPA but not the NHLCA

      • 7mantel - May 16, 2014 at 6:55 PM

        Why the wise crack ?

      • 16thearlofderby - May 16, 2014 at 7:23 PM

        no wise crack

        making distinction b/w players and coaches

        CBA for players only

      • 7mantel - May 16, 2014 at 7:29 PM

        ok sorry for the misunderstanding

  11. vstar1us - May 16, 2014 at 6:47 PM

    Sure is funny, I did not see him skating on the ice! I think Crosby is the joke and a few other clowns on the team as well. A team plays like crap so they need to blame someone so let’s blame the coach, sure he is to motivate players but when you have a bunch of egotistical players you can’t do much. If I was him I would tell other ship to screw yourself.

  12. bleedrangerblue - May 16, 2014 at 7:15 PM

    Maybe the pens can get mike Milbury!!

  13. bleedrangerblue - May 16, 2014 at 7:17 PM

    Just so you know that was sarcasm. The guys an idiot. Go Rangers!!!!!

  14. blackhawks2010 - May 16, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    Everyone on here wants to blame the Coach. The blame should be laid at the feet of the players for not getting the job done. Crosby is the most worthless, gutless inflated skill player in the NHL. This clown has ZERO leadership ability which is evident through his actions, track record and lack of getting it done.

    Please never mention Crosby’s name in the same sentence at Jonathan Toews, he can’t carry Taser’s bags. That is all.

    • 6superbowls - May 16, 2014 at 9:04 PM

      Ooooh? Okay tough guy. Tell us how you really feel?

      • broadstreetbeatdown - May 17, 2014 at 2:09 AM

        Truth hurts, eh?

    • mangoman1966 - May 16, 2014 at 9:50 PM

      Cant believe we took a stahl instead of toews. Who knew I guess.

  15. bobhpine - May 17, 2014 at 1:05 AM

    This is such a bad look. Just get rid of the guy. HE CANNOT BREAK A TRAP. Eventually the Pens always ran into a team that could execute the 2-3 against them and it was lights out. Boston and NYR just clogged up the zone retrieved pucks and cleared, or collapsed around the net and forced shots from the perimeter and waited for turnovers. BOTH TEAMS DID THE SAME THING.

    If you’re an American, perhaps you recall the USA Canada Game and the Bronze Medal debacle. The US couldn’t get through the neutral zone and guess what…the frustration exhibited by Crosby recently is remarkably similar to what Suter and Parise said once they, you know, collapsed. THERE WAS NO PLAN TO BREAK THE TRAP.

    Dan is a nice guy. Maybe he learns from his mistakes, but when teams figure out how to slow down his scheme, he just never has an answer.

    • broadstreetbeatdown - May 17, 2014 at 2:17 AM

      The trap wasn’t the problem when they were shown the door by the Flyers a few years ago. Lack of leadership on the ice seems to be the major issue with this club. Coaching and bad management is the least of their problems.

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