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Bylsma: Two Years on the Job

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Today, Feb. 15, marks the two-year anniversary of the hiring of Dan Bylsma as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. In just two seasons, he is one of the most successful coaches in team history.

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Bylsma began the 2008-09 campaign with his first-ever head coaching job, with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, and ended it by hoisting the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh.

Bylsma led WBS to a 35-16-1-2 record before Penguins GM Ray Shero brought him to Pittsburgh on Feb. 15, 2009. "I got a call from Ray and he wanted to talk on my office phone," Bylsma said. "That five minutes was a whirlwind."

Bylsma was introduced to the team at their hotel and he was behind the bench for his first-ever NHL game as head coach the following afternoon. The rest, as they say, is history. But that history is still being written. 

Here is a look back at some of Bylsma's monumental achievements so far:

Feb. 15, 2009 – Penguins hire Dan Bylsma as interim head coach.

Feb. 16, 2009 – Bylsma coaches first game with Penguins, 3-2 shootout loss, at Nassau Coliseum against New York Islanders.

Feb. 19, 2009 – Bylsma records first victory as NHL head coach, 5-4, over Montreal Canadiens at Mellon Arena.

Feb. 27 to March 8, 2009 – Penguins record the best road trip in franchise history with a five-game sweep at Chicago, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Florida and Washington.

April 7, 2009 – Penguins and Bylsma clinch playoff berth with 6-4 victory at Tampa Bay.

April 11, 2009 – Penguins end season with a 3-1 win at Montreal to finish the season with an 18-3-4 run under Bylsma, and locking up the fourth seed and home-ice advantage in the opening round of the NHL postseason.

April 15, 2009 – Penguins open playoffs with a 4-1 win over cross-state rival Philadelphia, Bylsma’s first postseason win as head coach.

April 25, 2009 – Penguins eliminate Flyers and advance to second round with a 5-3 come-from-behind win at Philadelphia in Game 6 – Bylsma’s first playoff series victory.

April 28, 2009 – Penguins GM Ray Shero removes the “interim” title from Bylsma, making him the official head coach for the foreseeable future.

May 26, 2009 – Pittsburgh records 4-1 win and a four-game sweep of Carolina Hurricanes in Eastern Conference finals to advance to the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup, and second in two seasons.

June 12, 2009 – The Penguins defeated the Red Wings, 2-1, in Game 7 at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena to claim the organization’s third Stanley Cup title. Bylsma becomes only the third head coach to lead Pittsburgh to a Cup championship.

Bylsma also becomes the 14th rookie head coach, and just the fourth in the past 50 years, to capture the Stanley Cup. Of those 14, only Montreal’s Al MacNeil (1970-71) took over mid-season.

Sept. 12, 2009 – The Penguins open 2009 training camp, the first camp run by Bylsma as an NHL head coach.

Oct. 2, 2009 – Penguins open the season with a 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers as the team raises its 2009 Stanley Cup banner.

Nov. 3, 2009 – The Penguins beat the Ducks in Anaheim to open the season with a 7-0 road record, tying the franchise record for consecutive road wins.

Jan. 24, 2010 – Penguins defeat Philadelphia 2-1 at Mellon Arena for Bylsma’s 50th career victory behind the bench. He becomes the eighth-fastest coach in NHL history to 50 wins (78 games).

April 11, 2010 – The Penguins defeat the New York Islanders, 6-5 in overtime, to finish their first full season under Bylsma with a 47-28-7 record and 101 points – topping the 100-point barrier for the sixth time in team history.

April 24, 2010 – Pittsburgh eliminates the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 of the quarterfinals with a 4-3 overtime triumph. The series win is the fifth straight for Bylsma, and his five series victories ties him with legendary coach Scott Bowman for most in team history.

May 8, 2010 – Bylsma’s Penguins beat the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1, to record his 23rd career postseason victory – trying him with Bowman as the franchise’s winningest coach in playoff history.

Nov. 17, 2010 – Pittsburgh defeats Vancouver, 3-1, igniting a historic run in team history.

Dec. 11, 2010 – The Penguins defeat the Sabres in Buffalo, 5-2, for their 12th straight victory and stretches their unbeaten streak to 15 games (14-0-1). The 12 consecutive wins ties for the second-best streak in team history, and ties for eighth longest in NHL history.

The Penguins also win their seventh-straight road game, trying the franchise record previously done twice. Of the three times Pittsburgh has won seven consecutive road games, twice have come with Bylsma as head coach.

Jan. 25, 2011 – The Penguins blank the New York Islanders, 1-0, to record Bylsma’s 96th career win. That victory moves him into third place on the franchise’s all-time wins list, surpassing Bowman (95).

Feb. 10, 2011 – The Penguins knock off the Los Angeles Kings, 2-1 in overtime, for Bylsma’s 100th career victory. He becomes only the third Penguins coach to hit the 100-win mark. Bylsma is the fastest Penguins coach to 100 (163 games), while he ranks as the fifth-fastest in NHL history.

To be continued...
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