After weeks of speculation regarding his status with the Pittsburgh Penguins, head coach Dan Bylsma has been fired, the team announced Friday. Recently hired Penguins Executive Vice President and General Manager Jim Rutherford spoke on the move:
Dan is a good man and a good coach, but I thought we needed a change in direction moving forward. I have no doubt that he will go on to be a head coach in the National Hockey League and have success. The search for our new head coach will begin immediately.
Louis Jean of TVA Sports first reported the news:
Dan Bylsma has been fired. #Penguins— Louis Jean (@LouisJean_TVA) June 6, 2014
It initially looked like Bylsma's days in Pittsburgh were numbered when the team fired general manager Ray Shero on May 16, but Bylsma was left in limbo rather than being let go at that time.
"We have not fired Dan Bylsma," Morehouse said. "I don't think there's an element of weirdness. What we're trying to do, we're trying to do it systematically, and what we wanted to do is first address the situation at the top and the leader of the organization, that is the general manager."
The Penguins hired Rutherford as their new GM Friday, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie:
Jim Rutherford is going to be announced as the new GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins. #TSN— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 6, 2014
As his apparent first order of business, Rutherford decided to go in a different direction at head coach.
It doesn't come as much of a surprise that the Penguins ultimately decided to fire Bylsma, but the manner in which they did it is curious to say the least. Among those who aren't particularly fond of the Penguins' methods is NHL.com's Adam Vingan:
DISCO INFERNO. (But for real, don't agree with how the Penguins let Bylsma twist like that for three weeks.)— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) June 6, 2014
Bylsma was basically stuck in purgatory for weeks and missed an opportunity to search for other jobs during that time. Pittsburgh probably made the right decision ultimately, but it should have been made weeks ago.
Is firing Bylsma the right move for the Penguins?
While Bylsma led the Pens to a Stanley Cup title in 2008-09, they haven't made it to the Stanley Cup Final since. This is despite the fact that Bylsma has had two of the NHL's top players at his disposal in the form of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Bylsma admittedly had to work around both of them being injured at various points, bit he simply didn't do enough with the talent given to him.
Even though Bylsma's tenure with the Penguins has reached a less than ideal conclusion, there should be other opportunities for him. He seems to be well respected and even served as head coach of Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Bylsma may very well go on to have great success elsewhere, but he started to fall flat in Pittsburgh, and all parties involved needed a change.
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