Dan Bylsma Agrees to 3-Year Contract Extension
Since being thrust into the position of the Pittsburgh Penguins' Head Coach just over two years ago, Dan Bylsma has arguably seen very little in the way of losing, whilst also guiding the black and gold to the pinnacle of National Hockey League triumph - the Stanley Cup. On Tuesday, the organization rewarded him for that success, agreeing to terms on a new 3-year contract extension through the 2013-14 season, ensuring that the man known affectionately by Pens' supporters as "Disco Dan" will remain in the fold for the forseeable future.
Bylsma, the 40-year old Grand Haven, Michigan native, was originally promoted from his previous post as the bench boss of the Penguins' American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on February 15th, 2009, after Michel Therrien was axed by General Manager Ray Shero in the midst of a colossal losing streak. At the time of Bylsma's arrival, the Penguins on-ice product was undoubtedly in disarray, and the team stood far out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The team quickly regained their stride under their new coach, winning the remainder of their regular season games at a staggering rate to climb all the way up to 4th place in the East. The team's astounding play continued through the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Bylsma ultimately guiding the Penguins to their third Stanley Cup title in Game 7 of the Finals against the rival Detroit Red Wings, who just one year earlier had dispatched the "flightless birds" in the 2008 final to capture Lord Stanley's holy grail.
It can easily be argued that Bylsma has had to deal with even tougher circumstances to deal with during this season, as the Penguins have had to fight through a mindboggling laundry list of various injuries throughout the campaign, with Captain Sidney Crosby still out indefinitely after his now-infamous concussion sustained in early January, and Evgeni Malkin out for the remainder of the season after a gruesome knee injury against the Buffalo Sabres. The squad's designated "big three" of Crosby, Malkin and Jordan Staal have only suited up for a total of two games this entire season, but the team still sits 4th in the Eastern Conference and only 2 points out of first place in the Atlantic Division, a testament to the players' dedication to Coach Bylsma's well-known team system constructed around effort, contribution from all lines, and accountability.
Bylsma's career winning percentage of .649 (104-52-19) is the highest of any Head Coach in Penguins' franchise history. In addition, he sits tied with the legendary Scotty Bowman for the team lead with 23 total playoff wins, and 5 playoff series wins. Expect for Bylsma to gain sole possession of those two records over the course of his new 3-year pact.