With reports coming out Friday that Willie Desjardins will be the next coach of the Vancouver Canucks, that leaves the Pittsburgh Penguins as the only team with a vacant head coaching position.
I expected Dan Bylsma to be scooped up by a team right away. During his first season with the Penguins, he led the team to an 18-3-4 record in the final 25 games and a fourth seed in the Atlantic Division on their way to the team’s first Stanley Cup since 1992 beating the Detroit Red Wings in seven games.
Since 2008-09, the Penguins made it to the conference finals just once.
The Florida Panthers were interested in Bylsma’s services, but it appeared the Grand Haven native was asking for too much money, and the Panthers decided to go a different direction.
So now that all of the head coaching positions are filled, what are the odds Bylsma is coaching in Detroit this season as an assistant?
I wouldn’t completely rule it out, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up as well.
What is working in the Red Wings’ favor is the fact Bylsma is a native of Michigan. He was born in Grand Haven, he runs hockey camps in the area, and Detroit is about a three-hour drive to Grand Haven, so being close to home has to be a selling point for Bylsma.
During the past three seasons with the Penguins, Bylsma has overseen a top-five power play — a big reason why they have been so successful during the regular season.
However, Bylsma is also a really good coach, and he won’t settle for a job as an assistant when he knows he deserves a head coaching position.
He may take the path of Peter Laviolette and take a year off from coaching to wait for a better opportunity next season.
The Red Wings certainly could use Bylsma, as Bill Peters was recently hired by the Carolina Hurricanes to be their head coach.
Bylsma is all about player development, and he would be a great fit to help with the wealth of talent coming to the Red Wings from the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Say what you want about his inability to take a team with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Kris Letang deep in the playoffs year after year, but it was general manager Ray Shero’s inability to give Bylsma quality depth players that hurt the Penguins in the long run and not Bylsma’s coaching.
I would welcome Bylsma as an addition to the Red Wings, but I know the likelihood of him coming to Detroit isn’t very high as well.