By Tom Venesky
The Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE TWP., Pa. – From his seat in the Wachovia Arena, former ECHL player and Pittsburgh Penguins interim head coach Dan Bylsma recollected on the place where his whirlwind season began a mere eight months ago.
In the course of a single season, Bylsma went from his first head coaching job in Wilkes-Barre, where he guided the Penguins to a 35-16-1-2 record, to taking over the reins in Pittsburgh and turning around the NHL franchise with a season-ending 18-3-4 mark.
Fresh off a first round playoff victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, Bylsma took advantage of an off day to stop by the Wachovia Arena and watch his former team – the one that started the whirlwind – practice in preparation for their upcoming series against the Hershey Bears.
Bylsma credits much of his success in Pittsburgh to the 54 games he coached in Wilkes-Barre – a stint where the WBS Penguins lost 10 of its first 20 games and presented the first-year head coach with his first major challenge.
“The first 20 games – struggling around .500 and coming out of that gave me confidence,” Bylsma said. “Having the 50-plus games here, I felt more confident on my day one in Pittsburgh than I did on my day one in Wilkes-Barre.”