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Penguins Build Stability with Coaching Staff

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins organization has grown into one of the strongest franchises in the National Hockey League over the past few years. The team has built a solid foundation of talented players on the ice that has them competing for a Stanley Cup year-in and year-out.

But the team’s success on the ice is also a product of the foundation off the ice, particularly in the hockey operations department. And the most direct influence on the team’s on-ice accomplishments comes from the coaching staff.

The Penguins instill the same system in both Pittsburgh and their top-minor league affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. That consistent message and teaching from the coaching staff has allowed the players to mature and make quick transitions no matter where they are playing – which proved helpful this past season as many players from WBS were summoned to Pittsburgh due to the parent club’s 350 man-games lost.

“I think the continuity and the way we believe we can have success – everyone in our organization, from a coaching perspective, believes in the same thing,” assistant coach Todd Reirden told “I think when you have everybody pushing in the same direction, using the same words, the same terminology, the same style of coaching – I think that really allows for a real positive direction right from our draft picks all the way up to the finished product in the National Hockey League.”

To maintain stability in the organization and build on the work done by the coaches from last year, Penguins general manager Ray Shero and assist general manager Jason Botterill worked diligently during the offseason to sign every coach in the organization to multi-year contracts.

Shero and Botterill accomplished their goal. On Tuesday, the team announced that Pittsburgh assistant coaches Tony Granato, Reirden and Gilles Meloche, strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar and WBS coaches John Hynes and Alain Nasreddine have all signed to multi-year contract extensions.

In March the Penguins signed head coach Dan Bylsma to a three-year contract extension.

“Part of the process of continuing with the group is that you can continue to move on from the entry-level stage of getting to know people and learning the systems and how to teach it,” Hynes said. “Now we can grow as a group and learn from the good and bad from each year. Now we can continue to progress as a staff, and ultimately with both Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh, take it to a different level.”

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Under Shero’s guidance the Penguins have not only found and developed good players, but also have assembled young, intelligent coaches. He has given the coaches the ability to grow and mature in their craft.

Bylsma came to the Penguins organization as an assistant coach in WBS and worked his way up to Pittsburgh. Bylsma hired Reirden to be his assistant in WBS. Now Reirden is by his side in Pittsburgh. When Reirden was the head coach in WBS, he hired Hynes as an assistant. Now Hynes is the WBS head coach and he led the club to the best record in the American Hockey League while being named coach of the year.

“What’s unique about our organization is that we have that continuity between everyone,” Reirden said. “Dan hired me in Wilkes-Barre and then I brought (Hynes) in and helped to get Alain hired. Now it all kind of goes together. I think that’s what has given us the success we’ve had.

“It worked out with Dan coming up (to Pittsburgh) and having that kind of success, then he and I could implement the exact system in Wilkes-Barre that we had. When I was the head coach in WBS and Dan was the head coach in Pittsburgh, we got everybody on board with exactly how we want to play. It’s the system we came up with together, Dan and I. (Hynes) is obviously an excellent coach and he was prepared to just continue the message. It was perfect.”

There is no doubt the continuity between the coaching staffs in the organization has contributed to the team’s success. And with Tuesday’s signings, the team’s coaches will remain in tact for next season as they work together toward the same goal for the next few years.

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