Update: Pens ink Bylsma to two-year extension

June 12, 2013, by
Bylsma would vault to #1 on my list if he becomes available.

Bylsma would vault to #1 on my list if he becomes available.

Update: The Penguins have extended coach Dan Bylsma, so he is now eliminated from the head coaching pool.

Original Post: The Penguins were swept out of the playoffs last night, scoring just two goals against a red-hot Tuukka Rask in those four games. The Penguins were completely outmatched, despite winning the Stanley Cup on paper after the trade deadline deals. However, despite the additions of Jarome Iginla, Brendan Morrow, and Douglas Murray, the Penguins were no match for the Bruins.

A lot of fans in Pittsburgh are calling for coach Dan Bylsma’s head, and it’s been rumored that there is tension between the coach and management. It does baffle me a bit, since Bylsma won a Cup in 2009 and went to the Conference Finals this year. They were out in the second round in 2010, and the first round in 2011 and 2012, but that should really paint a picture about how hard it is to win a Stanley Cup. It’s not really indicative of the coaching. But hey, that’s just my opinion. Also my opinion: These Pens –as constructed– were doomed to fail and if the Pens fire Bylsma, Slats should go running to Bylsma’s front door for an interview. He’s a great fit for New York.

Suit went through what the Rangers should look for in their next coach, and Bylsma has everything they are looking for. Bylsma runs aggressive systems, instructing his team to play a North/South game with creativity. Byslma believes in solid defensive play, but does not insist on the stifling measures Torts took with this team. He runs a solid power play, and if he had a goalie who didn’t actively avoid the puck, his teams would have been significantly better.

*-Let’s get one thing straight: These Penguin teams were doomed to fail. They didn’t have depth at forward. They didn’t have strong skating defensemen. They didn’t have a solid goaltender. You can’t win in the playoffs without these three components, especially against a deep Bruins team with a hot goalie.

If you’ve been reading our game previews before games against the Penguins, or at least our Hockey Systems page, you’ll know that Bylsma’s Penguins are incredibly similar to the Rangers. They play a 2-1-2 forecheck, and actively avoid trapping unless they have a huge lead. None of us want to see a trapping Rangers team. This game was meant to be an aggressive, go after the puck kind of game. The problem with the Pens is –and you saw it in the Bruins series– their backchecking was abysmal. Bylsma is not the type of coach to forget about back checking. That one is likely on the players.

In the defensive zone, the Penguins are a hybrid team. This is the key difference between Byslma and Tortorella, and the key area where he will make the largest impact. Bylsma had his Penguins –depending on puck location and situation– rotating between a strong side overload (when the puck is along the boards), a low zone collapse (when the puck is below the hash marks) and a strategy that is between low zone and man coverage when the puck is above the hash marks. That last strategy covered the point men and didn’t allow them time to walk in and shoot, but also covered the guys down low for rebounds, deflections, and shot blocking opportunities.

Bylsma is also a bit of a player’s coach, in the sense that he’s not a Tortorella type personality. He’s not gruff in interviews, but he knows where to draw the line. He’s the happy middle between Tortorella and Tom Renney in respects to their personalities.

Keep in mind, this is all dependent on the Penguins actually firing their coach, which I do not believe will happen. If that does happen, and I think the Penguins will be making a huge mistake if they do, then Bylsma vaults to my top choice for the Rangers head coaching vacancy. Alain Vigneault is my current top choice among available coaches, but he drops to #2 if Bylsma becomes available.

Categories : Coaching


  1. Cole says:

    Very well said. Still think the pens would be crazy to fire him. Kinda along the same lines of how I think it was a little trigger happy for the Rangers to fire Torts. Either way this should be a very interesting off season to say the least!

    • The Suit says:

      Everyone here knows I loved Tortorella. I like Bylsma even more. That’s all I have to say.

  2. Walt says:

    I am elated that his smug team got canned in four games! Cindy, Igor, Neal, Latang, and others were held to “0” points in the Boston series!

    I don’t understand how you can state that this team wasn’t deep enough at the forward position. If that is the case, what number of all-stars do you need on your roster to be deep enough?? Come on now, how many teams have more forwards who can score at will, and when they put their minds to it, can play defense as well?

    The team never responded to the coach, and didn’t want to play defensive hockey. They wanted to play run and gun, coming into this series with an over 4 goals per game average. Yeah, they aren’t deep enough at the forward position, right! What, if any adjustments did they make? I couldn’t see any, but then again I’m not an analysist!

    Given a chance to hire this coach, I’m not so certain he is the best for our team. I would go with AV, then Bylsma second, but that is only my opinion!

  3. Harry says:

    Bylsma would be a good short term fit for the Rangers based on his system. However he doesn’t hold his players accountable like Torts did, hence Penguins’ laziness. I’d rather not go back to the Renney days where the Rangers are blowing 2 goal leads every other game. I’d rather see AV or Dallas.

  4. AD says:

    Hiring Bylsma would be a step backward for the Rangers. I think he underperformed in Pittsburgh, given the talent he had to work with. Personally, I think Tortorella was our best alternative, and the organization and fans underestimate how much success he brought to this team. Now that that is no longer an option, I would have to go with Dave Tippet as the best candidate, if he is one. But Bylsma is perhaps in the #3-#5 slot, in my view.

  5. Mikeyyy says:

    Only one man I can see that becomes head coach.

  6. RyanK says:

    The Penguins would have been unbeatable if they had solid dmen and a goaltender. The Rangers do. The second I heard the rumors about Bylsma being on the hot seat I’ve had my fingers crossed that Shero & Co. would make a rash decision and fire him. He’s a perfect fit for a Rangers team that has SIGNIFICANTLY upgraded their skill level since last season ended.

    • Walt says:


      What do you call Latang, and Orpik, chopped liver???

      • RyanK says:

        Orpik is acceptable, but he’s nothing special. Letang is one of the most overhyped dmen in the NHL. He’s Del Zotto with better production.

        I’d put McD, Girardi and Staal above both of them, and I’d rather have Stralman than Orpik.

        • Walt says:

          Letang overhyped, my eye! He is a Norris finalist, and when the guy is out, the entire Pens offense, PP, stinks to high heaven. Give me him over MDZ any day of the week my friend. Just check the Pens record when he is out, you’ll be amazed at how they miss him over Cindy, and or Igor for that matter.

          • RyanK says:

            If you honestly think that Letang does more for the Pens than Sid or Geno, you are delusional my friend.

            • Walt says:


              No names please. Now that is funny because of the next line.

              When Cindy goes down, Igor carries the team. When Igor goes down, Cindy carries the team. When Latang goes down, the entire team seems to struggle, check the record. I’m not saying he does more than the other two, but he is the man that gets the offense started from the Pens d-zone, and does a great job on the PP.

              • RyanK says:

                Walt, if you’re going to say “no names” then please act like an adult and cut the “Cindy and Igor” bullshit. You’re worse than a Flyers fan.

      • Dave says:

        Orpik can’t skate, and Letang can’t actually play defense.

  7. TxRanger says:

    i’d just rather not have that douchebag coaching our team

  8. Justin says:

    Agree 100%, Dave. Bylsma would be hands down my number one choice is he becomes available.

    Has anyone around here noticed how, over the course of the “next coach” debate, how the results coaches are purported to be responsible for are a moving target amongst the commenters?

    If a reader doesn’t like a particular coach, the go to argument has been he didn’t achieve ________ result, therefore he is a step backwards or underachieved? Coaches are only responsible for so much, and there are only so many adjustments that can be made. There is also a fine balance that comes with making that adjustment since being too fickle sends the wrong message, whether it is a lack of trust in your players or your systems.

    There is no magic formula for a perfect head coach, usually the greats are separated from the very goods by being the beneficiaries of fortuitous timing/situations. I think if a coach is able to effective communicate with/manage the players, and utilizes appropriate systems for the team construct, he would most likely be just fine.

  9. howiehockey says:

    Hell No!!!!!!! Two goals in 4 games from some of the game’s best scorers…you’ve got to be kidding.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Case in point to Justin’s post above. Did you forget the 22(!) goals Pitt scored in the Ottawa series against a team that had led the Eastern Conference in goals against in the regular season? Sometimes you run up against a team that is playing better hockey.

    • RyanK says:

      That was all because of Rask. Malkin and Crosby had a ton of quality chances, Tuukka just shut the door every time.

      • Dave says:

        This is a fact that a lot of people are discounting. Rask was white-hot in this series. Nothing was going to get by him.

  10. howiehockey says:

    Justin, the last senternce of your post says Eakins is the one not Bylsma.

    • Justin says:

      Not necessarily, Howie. I only said that the systems have to be appropriate for the personnel, not that the coach had to be willing to adapt his preferred system to the players available. Obviously, a coach’s system could be a round peg in a square hole, but that’s not the case with Bylsma.

    • Walt says:

      It’s a moot point, Eakins has signed to coach the Oilers!!

    • Dave says:

      Moot point, as Eakins has signed in Edmonton. But to be fair, we don’t really know the systems Eakins tends to play. He also has zero NHL experience. Pros and cons.

  11. Mikeyyy says:

    Not sure if I like a coach with that aBylsmal finals showing this year.

  12. Erixon20 says:

    I would not be disappointed with hiring Bylsma (if available), but I am leaning a little more towards AV still. If either of those guys had Hank on any of their past teams no doubt Cups would have been won. Either would be a step in the right direction for NYR.

  13. joe719 says:

    This love affair with AV is puzzling. Just because the media says he is the leading candidate doesn’t make him the best. And just because Larry Brooks wants Bylsma, doesn’t mean its gonna happen. Let it play out. I would take either of them, and a few others, over Lindy Ruff. To me that WOULD be a “sideways” move! In my gut, I still have a feeling that Sather wants Messier on the bench. If he can corral enough experienced assistants to surround him with, I think he won’t be afraid to do it. Again, could be good move, or an epic disaster. At least we got something to talk about until training camp!

    • Justin says:

      Joe, what’s your concern with AV’s credentials? Also, no one is saying Bylsma is going to happen bc Brooksie reported it. What kind of blog would we be if we didn’t examine every realistic option (especially in this case, when the option is the best)?

      This isn’t directed at you specifically, but I’m curious to hear from any reader who isn’t sold on the available options: outside if Babcock or Quenneville, who is an upgrade the Rangers should be looking into?

      • joe719 says:

        Wait, don’t get me wrong. AV and Bylsma would be good choices. My only problem is, everyone seems to jump on the bandwagon after a few writers start naming favorites. Right after Torts was fired; Ruff was the frontrunner, by all reports, and people began to fall in line behind the choice. You have people commenting here on Dallas Eakins, or some other obscure choice, as if they really know anything about them(other what they read about them). Lets just let it all play out.
        My only concern with AV is how long an adjustment period there will be coming from the Western conf. I know he coached in Montreal, but still, its been a while. I don’t see any Sedin twins on this roster, so its its gonna take a while for any success to show in the standings.

        • Justin says:

          So your logic is “he’s coming from a different conference (which is generally regarded as stronger) and he has physically different players, therefore he will not achieve immediate success”?

          Could just be me, but I see a serious cause and effect problem there…

          • joe719 says:

            Lets not be dense here. He would be coming to a team that isn’t nearly as talented as the one hes leaving. There WILL be an adjustment period; the length of which cannot be determined yet, due to the fact that we don’t even know if this roster can play an uptempo, more offensively concentrated game plan.(which is the type of system, we are being led to believe, is the direction the team wants to go). You seem to believe that he can just come here, install a system , and BAM, we’re on our way. It won’t be that easy!
            This could all be moot anyway. If Bylsma gets canned, do you really think that Mario Lemieux wont jump at the chance to gobble up Vigneault? Then will see if Sather likes Byslma as much as Larry Brooks and others on this site do. More importantly we’ll see if Byslma thinks the Ranger job is worth it hi time.

            • joe719 says:

              *”worth his time.”

              • Justin says:

                See, that’s what I’m talking about, Joe. You make a very valid point and have some really solid concerns there. I agree that there will likely be some adjustment, I just didn’t agree with the conclusion that there would be one only because he was coming from a different conference without the Sedins.

            • Dave says:

              The good thing about this year is that the new coach will have camp and preseason to lessen the adjustment blow.

              My only concern with AV at this point is that he is a 1-2-2 guy, and this is a Ranger team built for North/South hockey. Will he adjust, or will the team adjust?

              That’s why Bylsma is my favorite, if he gets fired. He has the same forechecking styles, and the only big difference is defensive zone coverage.

              • Hatrick Swayze says:

                So speaking strictly from a systems standpoint (alliteration can be fun), Bylsma seems to keep what we liked from Tortarella (2-1-2 forecheck) and change what we didnt (D-zone collapse)?

                Not trying to comment on approach, culture or personality at all, just an X’s and O’s. If the above is true, I do very much like the option.

                Until I think about this part of the equation…. Bylsma’s Penguins unraveled 2 straight years. In 2 straight years his players ‘racked disciprin’ and deviated from playing an honest system. They got way caught up in the fanfare last year against the Flyers in round 1 and the same looked true for games 1 and 2 in the ECF this yr. It wasn’t until game 3 that they showed up. My question is, how much of this is on the coach and how much is on the players? I would tend to fault the latter here, but it doesn’t help Bylsma’s cause when he had 3 captains (Crosby, Morrow, Iginla) on his roster this year.

                If available, I would probably lobby for Bylsma too, but that last paragraph is something to be considered/addressed, IMO.

        • Dave says:

          To be fair Joe, I don’t read Brooksie. I wrote this when the Pens were eliminated because of all the “Fire Bylsma” tweets I saw.

  14. joe719 says:

    Just heard Eakins got the job in Edmonton. That’s one down!! NEXT???

  15. tmd39 says:

    In my opinion, no one has less with more than Bylsma. Just look at the post season resume. Why would anyone jump him to the top of the list? Oh, he has head coaching experience. Then by all means, forget his lousy track record.

  16. DMan says:

    What am I missing here? The Penguins, one of the strongest offensive teams in the NHL with some of the best offensive players, score a total of two goals in the Conference Finals. The Rangers offense, for all intents and purposes, has been an issue for close to two years. Why then would we want Dan Blysma as our next coach? I’m not saying we have to hire an offense-only minded coach but even the offensively challenged Rangers scored more against the Bruins than the Penguins….

    • Justin says:

      Ok, so let me get this straight, the team who was averaging the highest goals per game in NHL playoff history runs into a molten hot goalie and a team playing phenomenal hockey. This team then under achieves for 4(!) games, and all of a sudden they are offensively inept, and their well respected/admired coach is worth nothing as a result? Don’t mind that forest, there’s trees here.

      • RyanK says:

        Not worth it Justin. Contributor wise, this is probably my favorite Rangers website. Readership wise, it’s full of ignoramus’.

        • Walt says:

          And this coming from a man who told me to stop the bullshit with the name calling. Crawl back into your hole dude. Who died and left you boss? Now who is full of shit, you clown.

          • Dave says:

            Easy Walt.

            • Walt says:


              I wasn’t the one to start this nonsense! Everyone refers to Crosby as Cindy, I wasn’t the first, and Igor was not my given name for Malkin! They both are whining chaps, more so for Cindy, and that is the reason for my disdain for him, Malkin, and the Pens organization.

        • Justin says:

          Thanks Ryan, much appreciated. We try to keep the comments accountable, but thoughtful analysis is hard to come by in NY sports…

  17. DMan says:

    Thanks for your support Walt – all I did was post an opinion only to get slammed by experts-in-their-own-mind. Probably just frustrated NHL13 PS3 kids

    • Walt says:

      Not a problem, we all love this site, best on the web, and we get a chance to express ourselves. In the past, I have had disagreements with other reader, but at the end I’d say, let’s agree to disagree, without the name calling!

      I hate the Pens, and the Flyers to no end, and that is where my dislike, and name calling is directed, not other Ranger fans.

      • Justin says:

        Sorry DMan, but we prefer founded opinions around here. If you want to spout off name calling and typical fan diarrhea with no basis, feel free to give Mike Francesa a call…

        • DMan says:

          Before you start preaching, why don’t you read more thoroughly? I didn’t engage in any name calling or ” typical fan diarrhea” – that was your follower RyanK. Yes, the Penguins ‘only’ underachieved for four games – just their most important four games of the season. But of course should Blysma be fired, Mario Lemieux and Ray Shero would have apparently be wrong because they didn’t consult with you first. After all, you’ve contributed so much more to the NHL than the two of them combined.

          • Justin says:

            Calling us (or just me) experts-in-their-own-minds and frustrated PS3 kids is name calling.

            Also, this paragraph: “What am I missing here? The Penguins, one of the strongest offensive teams in the NHL with some of the best offensive players, score a total of two goals in the Conference Finals. The Rangers offense, for all intents and purposes, has been an issue for close to two years. Why then would we want Dan Blysma as our next coach? I’m not saying we have to hire an offense-only minded coach but even the offensively challenged Rangers scored more against the Bruins than the Penguins….”

            This conclusion has no basis in logic. It is a lazy straw man. A result that is bad must mean that the process is bad. I guess I didn’t realize you had to work in the NHL to be able to pick out faulty logic…

            • DMan says:

              Ah yes Justin, apparently only your opinion is steeped in logic. A coach who oversees a team with the tenth highest payroll in the league and then despite having this team of former captains and All Stars, proceeds in getting swept and scoring two goals in four games, must be the perfect fit for the Rangers. I guess you thought Bryan Trottier was a pretty good coach too.

              • Dave says:

                I believe Herb Brooks said it best: “All Star teams fail because they rely on the individual.”

                The Bruins play a team game. They take all their skill and use it in a system that works for them.

                The Penguins were a flawed team, as I mentioned in the post.

            • TxRanger says:

              I’m tired of you guys telling posters that their conclusions are lazy. You can’t attack your readers because they disagree with your opinion. Jeez.

              • Justin says:

                It’s not about disagreement Tx, its about having some substance to back up your opinion. Myself, and the rest of the guys here, welcome and respect any opinion, no matter how ridiculous it might seem on its face, as long as you can back it up. Cherry picking circumstances and bad results to prove a flimsy point doesn’t further the discussion or educate anyone reading. All it does is create frustration and division. That’s not what we are about here.

                We are trying to foster a community of educated and informed fans that can have constructive and thoughtful debates about the circumstances surrounding the Rangers. The NY sports market is ripe with reactionary opinions and emotion fueled dissent. It creates misconceptions about the sport and undermines actual foundation and logic.

                Feel free to disagree with our opinions, but be prepared to get called out if you can’t dispute them intelligently.

              • Dave says:

                Tex, you’ve been commenting here for a while. You know we are big fans of thought out logic, not baseless conclusions stemmed from laziness.

                Using a sample size of four games to judge Bylsma is lazy. Discounting the flaws in that team, despite the name-brand they had, is lazy.

              • TxRanger says:

                I do agree with you guys about faulty or weak arguments, but instead of attacking some of your readership, why not be professional and just ignore arguments that do not present a valid or sound premise or conclusion. Attacking readers is a good way to hurt credibility and lose readers.

              • Dave says:

                We aren’t attacking anyone. We are challenging people for better arguments and more thought out discussion.

  18. joe719 says:

    Justin, if Byslma does get fired, do you think that Lemieux would go after AV hard? More importantly, will AV covet the Pit job over NY if the job becomes available?

  19. MikeM says:

    All these coaching candidates and it’s somewhat frustrating to me nobody is really giving Guy Boucher much of a look. His Lightening teams played sound defense and he was always able to get his top guys to play well and score goals. If he had a capable goalie during his time in Tampa, I would’ve liked to see what he could have done. He certainly would have talent and a capable goalie in NY…

    • Dave says:

      We mentioned him in one of our posts. The problem with Guy is that none of us like his 1-3-1 trap.

    • Walt says:


      We really don’t know for sure if Boucher isn’t being considered for the job. Slats sent out questionares to potential coaches. What’s to say that Guy didn’t get one too?

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        Any idea what kind of content was on the questionnaires? I’d be very interested the type of questions which would be found on something like that. Would it have questions like:

        True or False: It is acceptable to admit to the media that one of your players ‘stinks’ on the powerplay.

        Multiple Choice: In order to diffuse a verbal disagreement which you were engaged in with a fan during a visiting game in a playoff series, it would be best to-
        A) Win the favor of said fan by calling a timeout, in order to have your All-Star goalie come over to the bench, autograph and deliver a game used stick to that individual.
        B) Turn your back to said fan and continue on coaching the game in order to earn a much needed road win in the playoff series.
        C) Throw a water bottle at said individual.
        D) Signal for your healthy-scratched agitator (whose name rhymes with Fawn Favery) to come down from the press box and block said fan from viewing the game as if said fan was Martin Brodeur and the ensuing game was a Rangers powerplay.

        Seriously though…. what kind of content would be on one of these things?

  20. joe719 says:

    Two down, NEXT!!!!

  21. Walt says:

    This is great news, I was never a fan of this coach, enough said!


    I have no idea what questions were asked, but it involved some 20 pages or so?????