Dec. 15, 2005—Feb. 15, 2009
Before his recent promotion, Bylsma had been in his second full season as head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate.
During his tenure as head coach, Bylsma has led the Baby Pens to an AHL Eastern Conference Championship and a berth in the Calder Cup Finals in 2007-08.
This season, under Bylsma, the Baby Pens boast a 35-16-1-2 record and have recently rattled off eight straight victories.
It's no secret that the Pittsburgh Penguins have been struggling since mid-December. There have been more than enough heads on the chopping block. Change was inevitable.
The general notion in Penguin land seems to be that Bylsma is simply an interim replacement for Therrien and that he will finish out the remainder of the season while Ray Shero searches for a more fitting replacement.
The same was thought about Michel Therrien when he took over for Eddie Olczyk in 2005. Some may say that Therrien has outstayed his welcome. Others may argue that Therrien was exactly the type of coach this young bunch of Penguins needed.
Whichever side of the bridge you're on, realize this: the Penguins are finally healthy, and that makes Bylsma's job a hell of a lot easier.
Sure, he still has to contend with the lackluster effort of Miroslav Satan on a nightly basis, and the lack of a suitable winger to play with Sidney Crosby, but the return of Ruslan Fedotenko and Sergei Gonchar to the lineup, combined with the recent stellar play of Marc-Andre Fleury, should take some of the butterflies out of Bylsma's stomach when he leads his team on to the ice against the Islanders tomorrow.
A coaching change likely won't solve every problem the Penguins have. They simply don't have the personnel that they had last season during the push to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, something had to be done, and it was.
Therrien had a good ride. He was a firsthand witness to the growth of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin into two of the biggest superstars in the world. He made his trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
So, here's to a new era of Penguins hockey, and here's to Penguin fans continuing to experience the evolution of this franchise.
All that's left to do now is wonder what Ray Shero will do at the trade deadline, wonder how Mike Yeo (who is currently in charge of one of the worst power play units in the National Hockey League) still has a job, and, of course, keep the faith that the Pens will climb into the playoff picture.