The Pittsburgh Penguins have removed the “interim” tag from Dan Bylsma’s title and formally named him head coach on Tuesday.
Bylsma had served as interim head coach since Feb. 15.
“Dan has done such an impressive job with our team, both on and off the ice, that we didn’t see the need to wait any longer to announce our decision,” said Ray Shero, the Penguins’ executive vice president and general manager. “He is the man we want to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins as our head coach.”
Bylsma, 38, has overseen a dramatic transformation in the Penguins’ fortunes, leading his team to an 18-3-4 record in the final 25 games of the regular season and earning the No. 4 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins ousted the Philadelphia Flyers, four games to two, in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs – posting a dramatic come-from-behind victory in Game 6 Saturday -- and are now awaiting their opponent in round two.
Bylsma and Shero agreed on a multi-year contract Monday night. The team was informed before practice Tuesday morning.
“Dan has impressed us all with his knowledge of the game, his relentless work ethic, his communication skills, and his ability to relate to the players and staff,” Shero said. “When Badger Bob Johnson was the coach of the Penguins, he said every day was a great day for hockey. Dan approaches the game with that same type of enthusiasm. He accepted the challenge of being our interim head coach in February and made this a very easy decision for our ownership and management.”
Bylsma began the season as head coach of the Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He led the Baby Penguins to a 35-16-1-2 record before being promoted in mid-February.
Bylsma spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and earlier served as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders and the AHL Cincinnati Mighty Ducks.
The native of Grand Haven, Mich. played nine NHL seasons as a right winger with Los Angeles and Anaheim from 1995-2004. He appeared in 429 career NHL games and played in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final with Anaheim. He retired as a player following the 2003-04 season and immediately went into coaching.
Dan and his wife, Mary Beth, have one son, Bryan.
“I want to thank Ray Shero and our ownership for giving me this tremendous opportunity to be the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins,” Bylsma said. “I’m humbled. I’m excited. And I look forward to continuing to lead our hockey team.
“We’ve got a great group of players and a great staff. We’ve got phenomenal fans and a state-of-the-art arena going up across the street. The future is bright for hockey in Pittsburgh, and my family and I are happy to be a part of it.”