Why Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins Should Be Coach of the Year in the NHL

Mad ChadAnalyst IMarch 24, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - FEBRUARY 23:  Head coach Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins watches from the bench during the NHL game against the San Jose Sharks at Consol Energy Center on February 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Sharks defeated the Penguins 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I want to start by saying that I know ESPN isn't the best place to go for hockey news and analysis, but I went to their NHL page anyway.

On there they have a page called "Trophy Tracker" that shows their front runners for all of the awards in the NHL, such as the Hart Trophy (MVP). 

They show the top five candidates in order for each award, but only offer analysis for the Hart Trophy.

On their Jack Adams Award tab, Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma is ranked No. 5, behind Guy Boucher of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings, Peter Laviolette of the Philadelphia Flyers and Alain Vigneault of the Vancouver Canucks.

Call me biased, but I can't agree with any of this.

How is Vigneault the front-runner? He has one of the best goalies, last year's MVP and Art Ross winner in Henrik Sedin and Henrik's twin brother Daniel, who is most likely going to be this year's MVP and Art Ross winner. All of their best players are also healthy.

Sorry—Vancouver has had a great year, but no way Vigneault should get it over Bylsma.

No other coach has gone through what Bylsma has this year. He’s lost Evgeni Malkin for the season to a knee injury and his superstar center, Sidney Crosby, arguably the best player in the world, hasn’t played since January 6 due to a concussion, and his return this season remains a question mark.

Before that, he and the Penguins had to play the first 31 games of the season without fantastic two-way forward Jordan Staal. 

Brooks Orpik, Chris Kunitz, Aaron Asham and Mark Letestu have all missed significant time due to injuries.  

The Pens have now lost over 300 man-games due to injury—and that number continues to increase every day.

Bylsma has also had to overcome a shaky start by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and distractions from the Winter Classic, the opening of Consol Energy Center and the reality show 24/7 that was on HBO leading up to the Winter Classic.

Bylsma and the Penguins have also had to deal with Matt Cooke, who was just suspended for the rest of the season and the first round of the playoffs.

Yet despite all of that, the Pens remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, have the third-best record in the conference and remain just four points back of the Philadelphia Flyers in the Atlantic Division.

I wasn't a full believer in Bylsma, but I am fair and give people their due. What he's done this year with all of this happening to the team has been incredible.

The Penguins only had Staal, Crosby and Malkin in their lineup for three games this year. Unbelievable.

You can say what you want, but no one has done a better job coaching a team, especially through adversity, than Bylsma has for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

There's no doubt that he should be the NHL coach of the year.


This article also appears on the Pittsburgh blog www.412sportstalk.net. You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/madchad1187.