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Penguins fire head coach Dan Bylsma

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Dan Bylsma has reportedly been fired by the Pittsburgh Penguins. (USATSI)
Dan Bylsma has reportedly been fired by the Pittsburgh Penguins.(USATSI)

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On the same day the organization is expected to announce Jim Rutherford being hired as general manager, the Pittsburgh Penguins have fired Dan Bylsma, the club announced Friday.

Bylsma's future was left in doubt after the Penguins fired general manager Ray Shero. The plan was to leave it to the incoming GM to decide the fate of the head coach. Perhaps this was ownership's preference all along, but Rutherford apparently decided to let Bylsma go.

The head coach led the team to the Stanley Cup in 2009 after replacing Michel Therrien mid-season. The Penguins have been a postseason disappointment since, mostly.

Even though Bylsma was left safe after the firing of Shero, it never seemed like he'd be long for his job.

He went 252-117-32 over 400 games in the regular season and earned the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in 2010-11. Most clubs would be happy with that kind of record, especially with the number of injuries the Penguins have had to deal with over the years, but the postseason disappointments proved too great.

The club made it to the Eastern Conference finals last season, but had two first-round exits and two second-round departures in the five postseasons since winning it all in 2009.

The former NHL journeyman began his head coaching career in the Penguins organization in the 2008-09 season, serving as the bench boss for the club's American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa. Later that year, he was called up to replace Therrien, completing a rapid rise to NHL head coach. The season then ended with the Stanley Cup.

The 43-year-old coach started his coaching career in the Anaheim Ducks system as an AHL assistant. He then moved on to the NHL as an assistant coach for the New York Islanders during the 2005-06 campaign before joining the Pens organization for two seasons as an AHL assistant. It's been a quick run to the top.

There were reports about a falling out and miscommunication between Bylsma and star players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, which Crosby denied. Either way, the Penguins were not getting the job done in the postseason.

It's hard to define how much of that was Bylsma's fault and how much blame rested on the shoulders of Shero, who didn't provide the team much depth. Additionally, Marc-Andre Fleury's postseason goaltending was abysmal between the Cup run and this year.

The Penguins clearly want to try something new, which they have a right to do, but they probably should have gotten rid of Bylsma when they fired Shero instead of dragging it out.

The Pens now enter a crowded market of teams looking for a new head coach, joining the Vancouver Canucks, Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers.

Bylsma probably moves high up the lists of any of those teams and likely won't be out of work next season.

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