Dan Bylsma isn’t accustomed to sitting around the house. The Penguins head coach admitted in his Monday afternoon press conference that having time to spare around the holiday season was something new for him.
“When I got to December 25th in the evening time, I was ready to pack my bags and go somewhere and I had five more days with my mother-in-law,” Bylsma joked. “I didn’t know how to deal with that.”
Something he does know how to deal with is hockey. He’ll be doing a lot of that in the coming months. With the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement between the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players Association, the Penguins will be back in action sometime in the next two weeks. Excitement is plentiful among all involved in the game, and the bench boss is no exception.
|Pens coach Dan Bylsma addresses the media |
“The general sentiment is it’s great to have a deal,” Bylsma said. “It’s great to be back, great to get this thing going here as quickly as we possibly can.”
The process will commence much quicker than normal. Training camp will likely be in the range of five to seven days long, compared to 22 to 25 days long under typical circumstances. Bylsma and his coaching staff will face challenges with a shortened camp, but theyre prepared nonetheless.
“We’ve gone through a lot of different scenarios prior to two weeks ago,” Bylsma said. “That’s what we’ve been doing as coaches, trying to find a usefulness for our time. We’ve been doing a lot of planning. We’ve been ready for this and really within 24 hours we were ready to go with what our plan for the possible start of camp would be.
“We’re ready with all the details. Practices, videos, meetings, those have been ready for a long time now. We’ve been ready for this situation, and I think it’s a short amount of time, but for our team and our players, there’s a lot of familiarity.”
The head coach is confident that no matter the length of camp, his club will be ready to go when the first puck drops in the coming weeks.
“I think in terms of implementing, we’ll certainly do that in how we play,” Bylsma said. “The vast majority of our players know what (our systems) are. (They) know what we’re going to be doing on the ice. We’ll be making a few minor adjustments, but I think our players will be in tune with that by the end of any length of camp.”
The former Jack Adams award-winner is not only excited for personal reasons, but perhaps even more so, the city in general.
“In terms of the community, I’m glad we’re playing mostly for the city of Pittsburgh,” Bylsma said. “The people of Pittsburgh, the people down the street, the sandwich shops that we visit when we have lunch every day, they’ve been sorely missing the game.
“That’s kind of the toughest part about going through the last four months is seeing people and their lives affected by the fact that we’re not playing.”
Bylsma is eager to soak in the atmosphere on game nights, and is anticipating the return of the fan support to the game itself.
“I’m excited to have hockey back, I’m excited to get back at it and I’m excited to see the fans here at the CONSOL Energy Center filled up,” Bylsma said. “I know it’s going to be loud.
“We need to get back. It’s going to be real exciting, and I’m excited to have (the fans) back in the building.”