By Tricia Lafferty
PITTSBURGH – Thirty-one games into former ECHL player Dan Bylsma‘s NHL coaching career, the Penguins removed the interim tag and signed him to a three-year contract.
“It’s weird because it looks like he’s been coaching for 25 years,” forward Pascal Dupuis said of Bylsma. “As soon as he walked in (on the first day), we felt he was confident and he knew what he was talking about. It was easy for everybody to see that.”
Bylsma, 38, replaced former coach Michel Therrien on Feb. 15 and has turned a struggling Penguins squad into a club that Philadelphia Flyers chairman Ed Snider recently identified as a favorite to play in the Stanley Cup final.
Snider should know: Bylsma’s Penguins eliminated the Flyers from the first-round of the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs.
That accomplishment and the presence of the Penguins in the postseason — they were five points from the East’s final playoff spot and 10th in the conference standings when Bylsma was promoted from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton — convinced Penguins general manager Ray Shero that Bylsma was his guy.