Despite coaching the Pittsburgh Penguins to the best record in the Metropolitan Division, and the Eastern Conference, their head coach Dan Bylsma is still on an intense hot seat. This may seem like a wild thought since they have been so successful through the first-half of the season, but playoff failures have put him under this intense microscope.
Bylsma owns almost every coaching record in Penguins Franchise history. His 233 wins and 36 playoff victories are tops among other coaches who have led the team. Where as his 364 games as the coach is second to only Eddie Johnston’s 516.
What makes Bylsma face this “win-now” pressure is his recent playoff failures and the talent that he gets to work
with. Yes, he is tops in wins and total playoff games. However, his 29 postseason losses is most among franchise coaches and his .554 winning percentage is next to last among Penguins’ coaches who have appeared in 20 playoff games.
After Bylsma led the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup, since the 1992 season, in his first season, he has been eliminated twice in the first round, once in the second loss and last season his team was eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals. In those four series losses his team has been swept by the Boston Bruins, embarrassed at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers in six and has given up two leads in the series against the Montreal Canadians and Tampa Bay Lighting.
The end of last season almost saw the dismissal of Bylsma as the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported that: “Several individuals within the industry have told Slap Shots Penguins chairman Mario Lemieux, distressed by his team’s fourth straight failure to get out of the Eastern Conference after consecutive trips to the Finals in 2008 and 2009, the latter culminating with a Stanley Cup victory, may instruct Shero to dismiss the coach.”
Bylsma should have his Penguins wrap up their division by the end of March and could have the number-one seed in the East clinched by the beginning of April. He may guide the Penguins to their first Presidents Trophy since the 1993 season.
However, no matter what regular season awards or accomplishments he wins if he cannot get this team past the Eastern Conference finals his time in Pittsburgh may come to a close.
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I’ve devoted most of my life to being a Pittsburgh sports fan. Currently, I live in Austin with my wife Sarah and our dogs Clooney and Maggie.. But, I had the pleasure of taking in all that is Austin, TX – mostly the Texas Stars American Hockey League franchise – for the past 4 years.