Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Penguins remove interim tag from Bylsma


The Pittsburgh Penguins' resurgence late in the season can be attributed, in no particular order, to three things: 1) the return of Sergei Gonchar from injury, 2) the acquisitions of Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin, and 3) the firing of head coach Michel Therrien and the hiring of Dan Bylsma on an interim basis.

Tuesday, the Penguins decided Bylsma's 18-3-4 record in the regular season and a 4-2 playoff series win was enough to remove the interim tag and to make Bylsma the head coach, signing him to a multi-year contract.

Bylsma's style is about as different from Therrien's as one can get, and there seems to be little doubt Pittsburgh needed that kind of change. Bylsma deserves a lot of credit for the turnaround but he is not the only reason the Penguins are winning. Still, the players are working harder, having more fun, and, so far, winning.

One of his last hurdles to jump in earning the head coaching job was how he fared in the playoffs. While overall Philadelphia outplayed Pittsburgh, the Penguins are the one who advanced, and they did so in impressive fashion, scoring five straight goals in the deciding Game 6.

Bylsma won't be an Adams Trophy finalist for just two months of work but now he'll get a chance to show what he can do over a full NHL season.

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