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MEET THE FINALISTS: Dan Bylsma

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Dan Bylsma is one of two finalists for the Florida Panthers vacant coaching spot alongside Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Gerard Gallant.

Although Bylsma, 43, is well known to hockey fans, here is a short bio on the former Penguins coach.

On June 6, Blysma was fired after six seasons with the Penguins -- a tenure that included a Stanley Cup during his first season in 2009.

The postseason disappointments that followed, which included a second-round series loss to the Rangers last month, led to Bylsma falling out of favor in Pittsburgh.

The coach of Team USA at Sochi, Bylsma led the Penguins to the playoffs in each season he was with the team.

Byslma joined the Penguins during the 2008-09 season when the team was struggling after reaching the Stanley Cup Finals the summer before.

Pittsburgh went 18-3-4 under Bylsma after going 27-25-5 under Michel Therrien -- now the coach of the Canadiens.

In 2009, the Penguins beat Philadelphia, Washington and Carolina in the Eastern Conference playoffs before beating Detroit in a rematch of the 2008 Finals lost by Therrien's team. The Stanley Cup was the third won by the Penguins and the first since 1992.

The Penguins, despite having two of the game's top players in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, have failed to reach the Finals since.

In the past five years, the Penguins have been eliminated from the playoffs by a lower-seeded team.

In 2011 and '12, Pittsburgh was a fourth seed and lost to the fifth-seeded Flyers and Lightning in the opening round. In 2010, the Pens were knocked out in the second round by the eighth-seeded Canadiens. In 2013, the top-seeded Pens lost to Boston in the east finals.

This year, Pittsburgh -- which won the new Metropolitan Division -- beat rival Philadelphia in the opening round before taking a 3-1 series lead on the Rangers. New York roared back to win the next three games and eventually went on to the Stanley Cup Finals.

That's not to say Bylsma didn't enjoy great success in Pittsburgh aside from the 2009 Stanley Cup. He left Pittsburgh as the winningest coach in Penguins history.

Days after the Game 7 loss to the Rangers, general manager Ray Shero was fired but Bylsma kept his job for a little bit longer.

The Penguins said it would be up to the new general manager whether or not Bylsma would be retained. It appeared Jim Rutherford (who informed Bylsma that he was fired hours before publically being introduced as the new GM) had little to do with a decision made by ownership to fire Bylsma with two years left on his contract.

Florida GM Dale Tallon contacted Bylsma two days after he was fired and held his first interview with him not long afterward.

A native of Grand Haven, Michigan, Bylsma spent four years at Bowling Green University before turning pro. He made his NHL debut as a winger with the Los Angeles Kings in 1995 and spent parts of nine seasons with Los Angeles and Anaheim in a pro career that spanned 12 seasons.

Bylsma began his coaching career in 2004 with AHL Cincinnati and was an NHL assistant with the Islanders in 2005-06. Bylsma moved back to the AHL as an assistant in 2006 and was in his first year as head coach of the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins when he was tabbed to replace Therrien on Feb. 15, 2009.

Four months later, the Penguins were hoisting the Stanley Cup and Bylsma was the toast of Pittsburgh.

In 2010-11, the Penguins were wracked with injuries yet the team stayed in playoff contention despite being without Crosby and Malkin for extended periods of time. Bylsma's makeshift lineup earned a fourth-seed in the playoffs and he was named the NHL's coach of the year.

The Pens were in 78 playoff games under Bylsma and went 43-35.

In contrast, the Panthers have appeared in a total of 38 playoff games (16-22) during their 19 seasons. Florida, which has been to the playoffs four times and only once since 2000, has made it out of the first round one time in 1996.

 

Comments

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Dale, lets get one thing straight. WE ALL WANT BYLSMA! DO IT!

They don't care what the fans want, never have and never will

Coach Dan, if you read this. WE all wanted you. Good luck.

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