Could an early playoff exit mean the end for Dan Bylsma?

Disco Dan

On June 12, 2009, the most coveted trophy in all of sports was raised over the head of Sidney Crosby and many believed that more were due in the near future, especially with Coach Dan Bylsma was behind the bench. It is now 2012 and we have yet to make to the Stanley Cup Finals since, much less make it past the second round of the post season. Is this Bylsma’s fault?

When Dan came aboard four months prior to winning the cup he was handed a team that was having trouble finding itself. When the Penguins lost in the Cup Finals a year prior to the Detroit Red Wings, it was obvious this team wanted needed to get back there, yet they had trouble playing as a team and began to struggle. So Ray Shero did what he had to in firing Michel Therrien (Now The Canadiens HC) and bringing in Dan Bylsma. It appeared the Penguins had life again, by making a strong push through the end of the season the Penguins gelled as a team again and there was little doubt they couldn’t achieve what they hadn’t only one year prior.

When the Penguins finally made it to the Finals they met up with a familiar foe, the Detroit Red Wings. This time the Penguins wanted it more and took Wings through a seven game series that ended in Detroit with Crosby and company raising the Cup over their heads.

That was some year for the Pens, unfortunately you can not give all the credit to Bylsma. Yes, he came in and restructured the way the team played, but it was Therrien’s defensive strategy that stuck with the team and meshed so well with Bylsma’s system that helped this team win a Championship.

What are Dan’s Stats?

Regular Season: 167 – 85 -25

Play Offs: 28 – 22

When you look at his regular season stats he has done one hell of a job, especially considering he coaches a team in the Atlantic Division, maybe the strongest Division in the NHL over the past five or six years. Now look at his Playoff numbers, OUCH! besides his first Playoff run, Bylsma has been unable to win more than seven games… that is hard to swallow.

With a team like this, a team with Crosby, Malkin, Staal*, Fleury and many more, there are very few reasons why we should not have at the very least one more banner in the rafters.


Injuries, yes injuries have plagued this team for the last three seasons, making it very difficult for the team to live up to its potential, but what happened last year against the Flyers? The Penguins had the entire team together, yet they could not make it past the first round. The year before against Tampa is one we can forgive, if only because both Geno and Sid were sidelines with injuries. How about the Montreal series the year prior to that? a complete collapse by the Penguins defensively and offensively.

“In four Playoff appearances with Coach Bylsma they have only made it to the Conference Finals once and past the second round twice.”

“Is that acceptable and is he solely the one to blame?”

“What about Ray Shero? How about The Owners?”

Shero has done a spectacular job after taking over as GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006, through his career so far he has been able to keep a strong core with Fleury, Letang, Crosby, Malkin, and Orpik intact, he has made dangerous trades that have both paid off and failed. Last season was the first year where he did not make a trade deadline deal, which surprised A LOT of people, unfortunately there just wasn’t much out there, it was a buyers market and he had nothing of much value to sell. All in all, he is and has been the stand up guy that has given Dan a team that can win, or better yet……… that should win!

My opinion

This is Bylsma’s job to lose. In this postseason, anything less than a Conference Finals trip or even a Conference Finals Championship and he may be looking for work this coming summer.

What do you think?

Robert Slavinsky

Pittsburgh Penguins writer for Since my childhood I have followed hockey, from the years of The Great One up to The Next One I have followed the fastest sport on ice. Growing up in Pittsburgh PA, I have had the privilege to witness some of Hockey's Greats. Since the days of Le Magnifique no other team in Pittsburgh has mattered to me but the Penguins.

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