When Dan Bylsma walked through the doors of Nassau Coliseum to make his head coaching debut, he was only thinking about that first game.
He had no way of knowing that over two years later, he would enter that very arena set to coach his 200th NHL game as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
|Dan Bylsma is set to coach his 200th NHL game Tuesday vs. NY Islanders, against the same team and in the same arena he made his debut on Feb. 16, 2009 - pictured here. (Getty Images) |
“It’s certainly not that many years, but I do feel like it’s a pretty long time ago, at least when you look back,” Bylsma said prior to Tuesday’s contest. “Always coming in here, there’s memories of a lot of firsts. My first game, even in the coaches’ room here and in the players’ room, there’s some memories of firsts. Ironically, we are back for 200 here.”
On the night Bylsma made his debut as Pittsburgh’s interim head coach – Feb. 16, 2009 – the Penguins lost in a shootout, 3-2, to the Islanders.
“We lost in the shootout when he came in, but it was the start of a better second half for us and everything went well from there,” goaltender Marc-Andre FLeury
It certainly was the start of something special, as Bylsma went on to orchestrate the greatest turnaround in franchise history, losing the interim tag as he directed the club to an 18-3-4 finish, a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference and most important of all, the franchise’s third Stanley Cup.
Bylsma is now the reigning Jack Adams Award winner as the NHL’s Most Outstanding Coach, owning a 120-58-21 regular-season record (.657 percent) – just 15 wins shy of tying Michel Therrien for second place on the franchise’s all-time list.
Bylsma, 41, is also the team’s all-time postseason wins leader with 26, passing Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman (23) in the 2011 playoffs.
He’s certainly accomplished a lot as a coach in a (relatively) short amount of time, but he’s ready to help lead his team to do much, much more.
“When you start out knowing you’re going to just get to one, you don’t think down the road too much as a coach that often,” Bylsma said with a smile.
“I certainly think I’ve got a lot more in me, but it’s nice to have some success and have some longevity to get to 200 games and hopefully to 201 after tonight.”