Dan Bylsma has accumulated plenty of accolades on his NHL head coaching resume that’s spanned just over two years, including a Stanley Cup.
But despite all of the successes that Bylsma has achieved in such a short period of time, the 2010-11 campaign is shaping up to be his best yet with the way he’s led his players to success despite their injury woes – making him one of the top contenders for the Jack Adams Award as Coach of the Year.
Bylsma, who signed a three-year contract extension on Wednesday, hasn’t just kept an injury-ravaged Pittsburgh team afloat.
He has kept them mired within the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference despite having superstars Sidney Crosby
and Evgeni Malkin
out of the lineup for a combined 52 games, not to mention the team lost their best defensive center Jordan Staal
for the first 39 games of the season. And recently, the injury list has been nearing double digits, featuring names like Brooks Orpik
, Paul Martin
and Chris Kunitz
“I think we’ve heard over the course of time that anybody can coach Crosby and Malkin, right? And anybody can manage Crosby and Malkin,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero told www.PittsburghPenguins.com.
“But coaching without those two guys, and how the team’s playing now, win or lose, with the work ethic and with the discipline, is something that has been said since (Bylsma) got here from Day 1. So it’s carrying over now. I’m really proud of that for the team and for Dan.”
Bylsma admitted that this year has been a growing experience for both him and his players, but he has said on numerous occasions that his team wholeheartedly believes in playing a certain way regardless of who is in the lineup. The adversity has only deepened that belief in their system and in each other.
“I think that you talk about certain things as a coach and you believe in certain things, and the players believe in them,” Bylsma said. “Sometimes it takes some adversity to show that to be true. I’m thrilled for the guys in that room right now that they’ve had to go through this adversity, because they have worked and they have battled.”
Shero has said he has three values that are important to him in the Penguins organization: work ethic, accountability and passion.
They are values that Shero saw in Dan Bylsma from the start, and they are even more apparent now with the way Bylsma has led his squad through the tough times they’ve faced.
“He’s had passion since Day 1 for his job and for his life, for his family,” Shero said. “The accountability this year goes to making the players accountable. ... And the work ethic part of it has certainly been there for Dan and his coaching staff, and he’s instilled that from Day 1. ... From my standpoint, working with him is a good relationship, which I think you need. We have the same vision, and understanding how we want to play the game, and backing each other, which we do. So that’s important for me, and that’s why this thing happened pretty easy.”