Feature Friday: Dan Bylsma

Published on April 18th, 2014

Throughout the 2013-2014 NHL season, I’ll be posting player features each Friday. This week, we’re going to take a look at Dan Bylsma. 

By: Melissa Esing (Off_thePost)

 

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

 

It’s about that time of the year, folks. There have been summaries of every player currently on the active roster of the Pittsburgh Penguins, so what’s missing? The head coach, of course. You can’t talk about the team and leave out the man behind it all, Dan Bylsma.

Bylsma was hired to coach the Stanley Cup Champions of 2009, replacing head coach Michel Therrien. He led the team to their third Stanley Cup with a win in game seven against the Detroit Red Wings.

Prior to his coaching days, Bylsma was a former NHL forward, signed by the Los Angeles Kings in 1994. He was previously drafted by the Winnipeg Jets, but he never played for them. He earned the nickname “Disco Dan” due to his infamous dancing skills in the locker room. His career high was his 17 points with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the 2001-2002 campaign. He didn’t have much offensive ability throughout his playing career, but he was excellent on the penalty kill. Knee surgery forced him to miss 31 games prior to January 2004. He went on to retire after the 2003-2004 season. Additional to his knee injury, Bylsma’s face also bears the scar for his hockey passion.

In 1999 in an International League playoff game, he took a puck to the face which shattered his orbital bone, breaking it in 11 places. Nerve damage left Bylsma with a different smile than he had before.

His coaching career began as the assistant coach of the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (AHL) in 2004-2005 and for the New York Islanders (NHL) in 2005-2006. When he relieved Michel Therrien of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, he became the youngest head coach in the NHL at the age of 38.

He has had numerous accomplishments within his coaching career. He won the Jack Adams Award in the 2010-2011 campaign, as the most outstanding coach. In April of 2013, he achieved winning 200 games the quickest out of any coach in the league. A month prior to Bylsma coaching team USA in the  2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, he became the winningest coach in the Penguins’ franchise history.

Rewinding back to how he became the coach for the 2014 Olympics, he was meant for that moment.

“I can’t really describe what it’s going to be like to coach our national team. It’s a huge honor and the biggest privilege of my life,” said Bylsma in an interview.

Bylsma is a guy that grew up without having a hockey rink within 20 miles from his house. From playing junior hockey, to the AHL, to the NHL, and then to coaching, he has dedication. Although team USA fell to team Canada in the semifinals, it was still quite an experience and honor for him to have the opportunity.

Getting back to the NHL, he succeeded in receiving another division title with the Penguins, including earning another 100-plus season, even with a banged-up and bruised roster throughout the campaign.

Of course, no matter how much positivity you bring to a team, there are still going to be rumors and rants. Late in the season, many talked about the good behind firing Bylsma. There were roughly 10 games in which many fans questioned his decisions on. This is a coach that has had experience with over 400 NHL-level games.

Steve Kolbe (@SteveKolbeVoice) summed it up in a tweet on April 1, “The #Pens have finished .500 or better 31 consecutive months under Dan Bylsma.”

A small rough patch is minuscule in comparison.

Bylsma went above and beyond to accomplish a five-year plan of coaching in the NHL to representing his country in the Olympic Games.

On a less serious note, the Dan that we know and love is fun to watch outside of the team’s bench, when he isn’t standing motionless with his arms crossed. Dan and Dan Uncut by ROOT Sports provides fans with a good laugh, along with showing the great relationship between Dan Bylsma and Dan Potash.

 

Youngest Head Coach in the NHL? HOLLA! (Gif by @JustPuckIt)

Youngest Head Coach in the NHL? HOLLA! (Gif by @JustPuckIt)

 

 

It kind of gives fans a chance to see Bylsma, well, up close and personal…

Disco Dan is ready for his close up! (GIF by @JustPuckIt)

(GIF by @JustPuckIt)

 

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