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Penguins Report: Vegas Baby, Vegas

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Coach Bylsma on Jaromir Jagr, Jack Adams trophy and head-shots rule (4:59 PM).
  • The nominees for Jack Adams Award are... (5:17 PM).
  • Pics from around the Palms in Las Vegas (11:50 AM).
  • The reason the Palms is my new favorite hotel of all-time (10:01 AM).
  • Bylsma Family Values (5:22 PM).
  • Yeo, Yeo, Mike in the House (5:41 PM).
  • Who let the dogs out? It wasn't me, I promise (6:00 PM).
  • "Bright light city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire..." (7:25 AM).

Day 1 of the NHL Awards is in the books. It's been a long day for the Pens staff. But finally we can wrap for the day. Next up is to try and find something to do in this boring city called The Vegas.

Let's hope I don't wake up tomorrow wearing a wedding ring, missing a tooth, find a tiger in the bathroom and with Dan Bylsma missing. That could make for another really long day.

"I'm gonna be up five hundy by midnight. They're going to give daddy the Rainman Suite." It's time to let the dogs out....

Former Penguins assistant coach Mike Yeo was recently named the head coach of the Minnesota Wild. I can't tell you how happy I am for Mike. He was one of the best people I've ever met and I am so excited for him to get a head coaching opportunity, something he has wanted to do for many years.

Yeo was in Pittsburgh earlier today to take part in a Penguins hockey school camp. Katie O from PensTV spoke with the new general for the Wild.

Good luck Mike! We'll see you in the regular season.

After Bylsma's addressed the media (see his comments at 4:59 PM), he took part in a photo shoot. When he was done, Bylsma being the great family man that he is, invited his wife Mary Beth and son Bryan to join him for a photo op.

The Bylsmas

Doting father and son (left); for some fun, Bryan gave his father the "blue steel" (right)

The three nominees for NHL coach of the year: Bylsma, Alain Vigneault (Vancouver) and Barry Trotz (Nashville). I'll bet they're discussing global economics and the IMF in this picture (or maybe ice hockey).

Coach Dan Bylsma on the head-shot rule, the Jack Adams trophy and Jaromir Jagr...

On comparing being in Las Vegas this year as opposed to his first visit in 2009:
President Obama did not call me today (in congratulations for winning the Stanley Cup). I don’t think he’s going to call me tomorrow. The Stanley Cup is by far stands by itself as a crowning achievement for a coach, player or organization. Two years ago will always be special and better in that regard. But to be here for the Jack Adams nominee is a pretty special thing. It signifies something about our organization. We’ve always been seen as a group that has Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but this success is about our team, organization and group. That’s pretty special in that regard.

On expanding the head shots rule:
As we’ve stated before, as an organization, as a team we don’t want those hits in the game. Clarification is an important part of that. I also think real, clear follow through on that rule is important. We’ve had hooking and holding in the rule book for a long time, but it wasn’t until we brought it attention that it changed the game to a faster and cleaner game. I think the same about his situation. We need to have clear rules, but we also need to make sure we follow through on those as we go forward so that the players know that is not acceptable in our game.

On if Vegas could host an NHL franchise:
I think it’d be tough to keep your focus here if you’re the home team. Although you might have a home-court advantage if you did have games here. I see it that way. I’ve been here for exhibition games as a King and when we passed the MGM, I remember playing there in a preseason game against Colorado. I’ve played here in the IHL. I’ve played many games here and have come here on many occasions to play hockey. I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t be that way.

On the honor of winning the coach of the year:
It’s not something you set out for at the beginning of the year or your career. But when you get in a situation with the opportunity and you have been nominated, you realize how special and unique it is to be nominated. If I was lucky enough to win the award, a lot of great coaches and years dating back to Fred Shero, the first recipient of the award. It would be special. Now that I’m here, it’s something I’d like to get. It’s an indication of our organization from the top on down to the players with what we were able to do this year.

On added pressure from Shero to win the award:
I think Ray is lobbying the media in Pittsburgh not to vote for me because he wants it to be remembered as Fred’s trophy alone.

On his winning speech:
It’s tough to fit enough thank yous in 45 seconds, so you better plan it out. It’s tough to shut me up so 45 seconds is a short amount of time.

On adding Jaromir Jagr:
Hypothetically, you’re talking about a guy in his last year in the National Hockey League had 75 points. That’s leading our team last year. That’s an intriguing thing to think about. He’s a power-play guy. What you saw him do in the World Championship against NHL-caliber players was nothing short of outstanding on a bigger ice surface. Those are intriguing things to think about hypothetically. It’s tough not to think about adding 75 points to your roster if it’s something you’re capable of doing.

On if he’ll lobby Shero to add Jagr:
We were having the coaches meetings and there was an article in the Russian paper about some interest on Jagr’s part in talking to the Penguins. That was about a month ago. We found that to be amusing since that wasn’t true. But it was intriguing to see that it was out there that the had said there was interest there.

On if he’s spoken to Jagr:
I have not spoken to Jaromir.

On if the organization has spoken to Jagr:
Not at this time, no.

"Hello. How about that ride in? I guess that's why they call it sin city."

Dan Bylsma's visage dons a column inside the Palms Hotel.

Hotel view from the highway (left);

Pearl Concert Theater, host of Jay Mohr and the NHL Awards

Jack Adams trophy (right). Will Dan Bylsma's name be etched on the piece of hardware? Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conlusion featuring a plot twist you never saw coming (that's called selling the drama).

No real purpose for the pic on the right. I just thought PingPangPong is a funny name for a restaurant.

Checked in at the Palms. The first two songs played in the lobby: Weezer "Beverly Hills" and Nirvana "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle."

The Palms is officially the best hotel EVER.

Some quick picks from the flight for your viewing pleasure...

Left - Franco Harris and George Washington. What's more impressive: the Immaculate Reception or defeating the British Empire? I'll leave that question for historians to decide. Right - Overcrowded Pittsburgh International Airport in the early morning hours

Last thing you ever want to see when you're running late for a flight (right)

Row 23, Seat C Representing

View from my window

7:25 AM:
Vegas baby, Vegas.

Welcome to the greatest place on Earth. I’m not talking about Disney World (or Land or whatever). I’m talking about Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m talking about the belly of the beast. The city so decedent it makes Dionysius blush. 

The 2011 NHL Awards are upon us, being held Wednesday night at 7 p.m. (EST) from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Casino Resort. Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma is nominated for the Jack Adams Award, given to coach of the year.

Bylsma is hoping to become the first Pens coach to win the prestigious award. The only other Penguins head coach to be nominated for the hardware was Michel Therrien in 2007. Three other Pittsburgh coaches finished in the top five in voting (Kevin Constantine – 1998, 1999; Ed Johnston – 1995; Bob Johnson – 1991).

Thus, myself and a few other Pens staff members have descended upon the most wonderful and wholesome city in the United States to bring you all the coverage of the event.

Today’s itinerary includes:
  • 4:30 a.m. – wakeup call
  • 5:30 a.m. – ride to the airport
  • 7:30 a.m. – flight to Vegas
  • 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – enjoy a wonderful 5-hour flight
  • 12:30 p.m. – arrive in Vegas
  • 6 p.m. – media availability with Bylsma and award finalists
  • 8 p.m. – brush my teeth, say my prayers and go to sleep
But as the saying goes, and John Steinbeck brilliantly illustrated, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

I momentarily defeated insomnia and fell asleep at 4 a.m. As luck would have it, slept through my 4:30 a.m. alarm. I awoke to a call from my ride, who was two blocks from my place.

Frantically I packed my belongings in 10 minutes (a new personal record). I stood in zombie-like trance through baggage check-in and airport security. I couldn’t even find the energy to be annoyed by the kids screaming and doing the “Dougie” behind me in line. Needless to say, I didn’t ask for dance instructions.

Anyways, got a flight to catch for Las Vegas (or the English translation, The Vegas).

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