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Penguins fire head coach Dan Bylsma

Jun 6, 2014, 1:03 PM EDT

Dan Bylsma Getty Images

Jim Rutherford’s first act as the Pittsburgh Penguins’ new general manager was to fire head coach Dan Bylsma. The Penguins confirmed the decision along with the hiring of Rutherford.

Bylsma took over as the Pittsburgh Penguins’ bench boss late into the 2008-09 campaign and led them to the 2009 Stanley Cup championship. He won the Jack Adams Award in 2011, but the decision to let him go still isn’t surprising given the Penguins desire to start fresh after years of coming up short in the playoffs.

The Penguins were expected dismiss him when they fired former GM Ray Shero, but they decided to keep Bylsma on board until they found Shero’s replacement so that their new GM would have the option of retaining his services. That also prevented Bylsma from being an option for the rival Washington Capitals during their search for a new bench boss.

All the same, Bylsma is likely to find a new coaching position rather quickly as the Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers, and Rutherford’s old team, the Carolina Hurricanes, still have head coaching vacancies.

Bylsma is leaving the Penguins with a 252-117-32 record, which is the all-time best regular season points percentage among coaches that have overseen at least 400 games. He also has a 43-35 record in the playoffs.

  1. vancouversportsbro - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    About freaking time. Never saw the appeal besides his first year (which kept him for another five years too long).

  2. bmoreredfury311 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    What dick move by the hen brass. Making the poor guy wait in limbo like that. Classless

    • hockey412 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      Just one small correction there – the Pens kept Bylsma in the event that the new GM might want to retain him, and thus selflessly taking themselves out of the running for the coaches that were on the market like Trotz.

  3. patthehockeyfan - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    Too bad. Not unexpected; yet, the Pens played so, so well during the regular season, and dismally failed in post-season.

    Bylsma should have been fired at the same time as Shero. It’s b.s. that they wanted to wait to see if the new GM wanted to retain him. As a package deal, Shero and Bylsma would have been a great add to another team; yet, it seems that Pens’ management didn’t want to see that happen.

    Dan Bylsma is a good guy. I wish him luck.

    • pirovash88 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      I agree, Bylsma was a great coach and ultimately should’ve gone with Shero. As much as i hate to say it, he’ll probably end up in Vancouver.

  4. sixchr - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    Embarrassing move from the Penguins. Everyone knew there was no shot Bylsma kept his job and they kept him in limbo for a month just sitting there knowing his probable fate.

    • hockey412 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      They were honest about what they were doing the whole time…it’s interesting that everyone thinks it’s something bigger. They said he’s a good coach so they are going to see if the new GM wants to keep him, the new GM did not. It’s only June 6. Still teams looking for a coach.

      • sixchr - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:44 PM

        It’s a dink move, he should have been fired. GMs almost always hire their own coach, they never inherit them. Another team can’t sit there and say “Oh, Bylsma might be fired, let’s wait and do nothing until they get a GM and we find out.” Teams have to work with the market, by keeping Bylsma off the market the rest of the league can’t afford to wait for him because if he’s not available then they might lose the best candidate available to them. This then fills up positions that Bylsma may have had a chance at or filled, preventing him from getting another job that would be in his best interest. It’s a joke of a move and they should be embarrassed with themselves.

      • hockey412 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        …and, it’s June 6th….and, there are still positions opened. You don’t fire a Jack Adams winning coach, and one that’s made the playoffs every year of his NHL career, without talking to the GM first to see if they feel Dan slipped or just didn’t have the personnel. They didn’t drag their feet in getting a GM, they did their due diligence and pulled the trigger. Then, they made both announcements at the same time (i.e. Dan’s future was the first order of business, just like they promised). So, if any other team out there wants Dan, they are also free to fire their coach and get him now. Otherwise, there are teams that still need coaches.

        If they hired Rutherford and time went by, then fired Dan at the beginning of the season, then yeah, dick move. I just don’t see this point making sense in the real world.

  5. lowenni - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    The right call. I like Blysma and he’ll definitely have a new job by the end of the summer but the team needs a new identity. Don’t like the signing of Rutherford as GM at all though.

  6. theageofquarrel - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    Just like the 70’s, Disco is gone

  7. Eutaw's Finest - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    “That also prevented Bylsma from being an option for the rival Washington Capitals during their search for a new bench boss.”

    How sad is it that the Pens wanted to fire their coach BUT they wanted to wait until the Caps had a new coach on board to keep them from hiring him? Seems to me that either:

    1. they still believe he’s a good coach and they are afraid of what he could do with the Caps current roster, or

    2. they are that childish that they pulled the 5 year old “I don’t want my toy, but I don’t want you to have it either!”

    • hockey412 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:23 PM

      How said it is that people think the Caps situation has anything to do with this one. The Pens were honest from the start about Dan, that he may in fact be available, but they won’t know until they get a new GM. They got a new GM, the GM made the call. Just like they explained from the start.

      • Eutaw's Finest - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:25 PM

        AGAIN I pull the quote from the article, not from what I think:

        “That also prevented Bylsma from being an option for the rival Washington Capitals during their search for a new bench boss.”

      • hockey412 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        Then you may take my comment as being directed towards the article. (and I meant to say “how sad”). But, you still went on to give your reasoning behind the statement. Bottom line is that if the Caps wanted Bylsma, they could have waited on Trots – the Pens made the announcement that Bylsma just might be available well before the Caps interviewed Trots, no?

    • JoeAvg - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      The whole Shero/Bylsma/Caps notion is silly and just standard media fact twisting to get a story. Consider: Shero was available for GM but there’s no indication the Caps were even interested; also, everybody knew the odds on the new GM keeping Bylsma were slim to none and the Pens said publicly that they would not stand in his way of interviewing for another position at the conference where they let Shero go. That says plain as day that if any team wanted to talk to him they could. Guess nobody was interested.

    • 4hockey - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      From the beginning, the Pens also did not restrict Dan Bylsma from talking to other teams I see no wrong doing there. It’s business, and the Pens took their time to find the direction they need to go in. Good luck Dan. Wish you the best on your next team.

  8. bruinpred - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    Mario has proven to be a dick and this is another example.

    • hockey412 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      He’s not the only one that’s proven to be a dick, kettle.

    • 6superbowls - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      Coming from a supporter of a team with such great class guys like Thorton and Marchand…

    • drewsylvania - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      Ah, anti-Bruins sniping. Unwarranted but not surprised.

      • 6superbowls - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        Make derogatory comments about a team or an man you know NOTHING about while sitting in your glass house and expect not to have the in return? Come on man? Thought Bruin fans were more knowledgeable than that?

      • bruinpred - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        What do I know? I know he employed Matt Cooke and threatened to quit hockey because Sydney Crosby accidentally got hurt. He’s is widely disrespected. Now your Moms are calling – come up from the basement, turn the porn off and eat your lunch.

      • 6superbowls - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:33 PM

        Mario is widely disrespected? Stick to beating off to your Bobby Orr and Larry Bird posters and stop posting on Penguin articles.

    • dtownbeatdown - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:08 PM

      So I’m confused are you a bruins or predators fan? Either way you sound like a jerk off. Mario is in the business of trying to win championships not to be Mr nice guy and be buddies. He was his boss, when you don’t perform at your job you get fired. That is what I know. I am a wings fan and really dislike the pens… but Mario being widely disrespected? Really? Coming from a bruins (or is it preds? Or is it whoever is in the playoffs?) fan that is the most asinine/contradicting statement I’ve ever heard.

  9. imgoingtowichita - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Not entirely shocking. Guess that GM role should be announced very soon.

    • hockey412 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:25 PM

      Billy G is now an Asst. GM, Botterill to Associate GM whatever the hell that is. Other guy is still an Asst. GM. Rutherford is GM – sounds like Botterill’s role was expanded a bit.

      • theageofquarrel - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:29 PM

        I am very happy with the Billy Badass promotion,he deserves it.

      • theageofquarrel - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        and just read that Tom Fitzgerald is also promoted to asst. GM

  10. bullwinkle88 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    It’s fairly obvious that Blysma is overrated as a coach. In addition to failing to keep the team at a championship level with all the talent he had in Pittsburgh, his handling of the U.S. team at the Olympics was dismal at best.

  11. gbart22 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    Still can’t figure out the hire of Rutherford as gm. He isn’t exactly a beacon of success at all

    • sumkat - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      I don’t think they had a lot of options. I doubt guys would be lining up to be the Pens GM. You know the final decision on major decisions are going to have to be at least run by Mario. Plus, even if you do win, it was just expected with that much talent. All you accomplished was not messing up.

      Obviously, there are only so many GM positions, so they all have value. But I doubt the top 5-10 guys in the league would even consider the Pens

      • dirt2013 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:18 PM

        Pen’s GM reports to the president who in turn reports to the owner (s).

    • desertfan - Jun 6, 2014 at 8:22 PM

      McGuire would have been the right choice- a real today hockey guy!!

  12. pitpenguinsrulez - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    Finally!!! That makes me happy.

  13. jason9696 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    You knew he was eventually going to be fired. But the way the Penguins went about it is a total disgrace. They should have fired him the same time that they fired Ray Shero. They showed Dan Bylsma absolutely no respect for a Stanley Cup winning coach. I actually like the Penguins but I hope they stink next season because of this.

  14. checkcasher - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Welcome to Carolina!!

  15. whatiswrongwithu - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    Even if it was known a very classless move by the Pens. Mark my word you bring on a GM that didn’t do anything in Florida, jerk around a good coach Karma will bite Super Mario and his little hens going forward. The Pens winning era is over and watch what happens next. Can you say fire sale of the over priced talent.

    • whatiswrongwithu - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      Correction: Carolina

      • hockeydon10 - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:07 AM

        Shero: one finals loss, one finals win with two of the top five talents in the world.
        Rutherford: one finals loss, one finals win without two of the top five talents in the world.

        I’m not a ‘Cane’s fan but one has to admit that makes it look like Rutherford is better at putting together more complete rosters.

  16. jamr212 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Come on Hurricanes, pick him up!!

  17. skeeterbarnes - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Vancouver bound.

  18. papajack1259 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    What have you done for me today? And How long have you worked for us not including tomorrow?
    Bylsma is the winningest coach in Pen History and has a cup!
    Remember Eddie (sp) he has Nissan a 240. Winning % and we listen to him and Pierre reminiss every game. Nice guys always finish last we new it was coming

    • hockey412 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      You can’t say they didn’t stand by their guy for a lot longer than most teams would have. But seeing a repeat performance for 5 years in the playoffs has to factor into your little equation there somehow.

    • theageofquarrel - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:19 PM

      Eddie drives a Nissan?

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      So what? That doesn’t mean he is a good coach. It’s easy to coach when you have loads of talent on your team. Bowman is also given kudos when he was with Montreal, but look at all the talent he had there. When he came to a mediocre team in Buffalo he totally failed. I think the same is true for Blysma.

  19. eagles512 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Sounds like the Pens were screwing him or just didn’t have the guys to dip it themselves.

  20. ducksk - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    Here’s a fact. If your interested at all in truth. Super Mario did not let Dan speak with over teams during this mess. He left the whole staff hang in the wind. Shameful. Danny B is a good man and coach, good luck finding better. Truth also is the top pens players did not play well enough in playoffs, yes you can blame the coach, but there are any that must look in the mirror staring with the captain. Either find facts or stfu

  21. nightfireop - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    darn it, with the firing of dan bylsma, penguins might actually be a better team moving forward. i’ve enjoyed watching them crumble every postseason. especially in the 2012 against the flyers…what a beautiful series: crosby crying, fleury can’t stop beachballs, the entire pens lineup being stupid and playing into flyers physical play.

  22. sumkat - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    Saw this coming

    Best move for Bylsma would be to find an assistant/bench coach gig somewhere, and take a look around next year when there are more jobs available. Outside of maybe Carolina (which probably gets a boost being an old haunt of his), who would want to step into that Vancouver or the Panthers?

    He has to think more about his career than just his next job. His stock is already tumbling IMO (They’ve clearly not gone as far as they should have besides that cup, which was 5 years ago now). Not that I think he’s a bad coach, but I don’t see him as someone who I would think would improve a team the day he walked in the door either. If he winds up in Florida with an awful team, or Vancouver with their perennial high expectations, but lacking talent, he could easily be come to be known as just some guy who rode Crosby/Malkin to a cup (well, more people. The guys thatt don’t like him already think that)

  23. barkar942 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    A complete sucky move on behalf of the Penguins. Letting us all get our hopes up that Pierre would be leaving NBC Hockey! The nerve of them!

    • barkar942 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      Oh- and they kept Bylsma tied up as to not go to DC with Shero.
      And, I personally don’t think Rutherford is a good choice either!

  24. mildfan - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Letting your star players run the show. Not very many good coaches out there, even fewer with a cup. Get a goalie and find a big mean defenseman, good luck pens!!! I don’t care about your team except for Paul Martin he needs a Cup!!!

    • sumkat - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:22 PM

      Get a goalie and a big mean defenseman…..with what?

      A big mean defenseman, and an upgrade over Fluery will cost a pretty penny. With Letang, Malkin and Crosby, extra money isn’t something they have

  25. ducksk - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    Ray Shero had a claus that all final hockey decisions were his. He lived and now died in that. You think that will be in Jim’s contract? You trollers that watch some hockey think you are owners and GM’s and qualified to judge and hand out your idiotic and sometimes juvenile remarks don’t have a clue. Get educated or stfu

  26. letsgopens8771 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    Finally a great move. As for all this classless move talk, I am not so sure about this because this situation is a metaphor for his career with Pittsburgh. We were willing to give him a chance and Mario was willing to see what else he had, especially since he was probably right that other teams were interested. They wanted to let the new GM (who I think may have some potential since he won’t look to make the headline grabbing moves and look for guys who can develop as well as drafting NHLers not AHLers) make the decision which was wise. We gave him chance after chance in the postseason and if he can’t win with these players, then it is his time, Stanley Cup or not. Sure, there is some leadership issues there but having guys like Guerin and Fitzgerald there who have that kind of experience, they will help to address that. That is not fixed with a trade, Mr. Shero, it is fixed with discipline. Bylsma’s systems in the playoffs did not work. Bylsma didn’t tell them to do anything differently when the Flyers let us beat ourselves, or when we kept giving up odd man breaks to Boston. He can’t adjust. The players are only part of the problem, and people are saying it is mostly Sids fault. He needs a coach that will be able to tell him, “Don’t fight Giroux” or “They want you in the box, so they’re going to try and mess with you. Don’t let them.” Waiting to fire Bylsma was the right move because we needed to prove to him how many coaches we gave him and how many chances we were willing to give him but we have a higher standard so he’s not the right man for the job.

  27. joey4id - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    Before you all go feeling sorry for Bylsma you should think about the contract and the millions he made. Secondly, you should ask yourself the following. Is it possible his agent had permission from the Pens organization to assess the other team’s interest in Bylsma’s services?

    • letsgopens8771 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      Don’t forget that the Penguins needed to bring in a guy to help them with their defense, so they brought in Jacques Martin (Who is currently being interviewed by Carolina as well as other teams) and asked him to make their defense better. Bylsma didn’t listen at all and they minimized Martin’s role with the team. It was like he wasn’t even there. Bylsma would have none of his advice because he wanted to play all offense all the time instead of defense. That is one of Bylsma’s worst decisions this year.

      • joey4id - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:51 PM

        So, why has Crosby under achieved in the last 2 playoffs?

  28. djshnooks - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    It’s easy to pile up regular season wins with two of the best players in hockey in your team, on Crosby and Malkin.

    He couldn’t manage squat with team USA…that should have been a sign to EVERYBODY who follows hockey…that this guy is not as good a hockey coach as everyone has made him out to be.

    And I highly doubt they kept him on because they were afraid of Washington going after him. If you think a team would rather have Dan Bylsma over Barry Trotz, you need to wake up and think again.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t get another head coaching position right away. I expect him to sign in as an assistant somewhere this year and earn a HC job.

    I wouldn’t want him anywhere near my team, especially my young prospects.

  29. mordock57 - Jun 6, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    “Bylsma is leaving the Penguins with a 252-117-32 record, which is the all-time best regular season points percentage among coaches that have overseen at least 400 games.”

    To the Pens fans…. remember that if we don’t make the playoffs at any point in the next five seasons. Remember how many key injuries he dealt with in the past five seasons while amassing that record, including Crosby out for basically a season and a half. Remember that the grass isn’t always greener. I think this was a terrible overreaction of a move and I’m still scratching my head at the choice for the new GM. Ah well. Thanks, Dan. Some of us remember what you’ve done for this team in the past five years, not just in the past five weeks.

  30. ducksk - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    Joey, how’s 13 games 1 goal?

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