NEW YORK – Dan Bylsma sat on stage with the U.S. Olympic hockey brain trust, moments after he was formally revealed as the head coach for the team headed to Sochi in 2014. A reported asked him about his limited international coaching experience.
Bylsma corrected him. “I don’t have any experience,” he said.
The Pittsburgh Penguins coach has a Stanley Cup ring and a Jack Adams Award, but he hasn’t coached a minute of international ice hockey. Yet was awarded with the head coaching gig for Team USA over coaches like 2006 Olympic coach Peter Laviolette and John Tortorella, who was an assistant for the 2010 Olympic team.
“We think he’s established himself as one of the very best coaches in the National Hockey League, and that was our one criteria,” said David Poile, GM of the U.S. Olympic team.
Bylsma said he’s already working hard to discover the differences between coaching in the NHL and coaching at the Olympics, from the schedules to the size of the ice surface. One thing he’s already rather adept at from his Penguins days: Managing star players, their talents and their egos.
“I’ve coached Sidney, coached Evgeni for a long time now – four plus years. I’m acutely aware of their strengths,” said Bylsma of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Bylsma vs. Crosby will be one of the most compelling storylines when the U.S. and Canada collide in Sochi. The coach remembered watching Crosby score the “Golden Goal” to beat the U.S. in Vancouver, as he sat in a restaurant with his son and witnessed history on television.
“I got out of my chair. I had a good notion he was going to score there,” he recalled.
Now, he’ll be tasked with stopping Crosby and Team Canada. And he expects Crosby will be using the same sort of counterintelligence.
“I’m a little bit concerned he knows me as a coach, that he knows my strengths and weaknesses, and he’s going to bring that to the Canadian team,” he said.
Coming up, Bylsma’s introductory press conference and our conversation with him about the movie “Miracle.”
Here’s Bylsma, meeting the public as Team USA coach for the first time:
Now, here’s a little conversation with him about what it means to be an American coaching the U.S, Olympic team and a cool story about how he caught his son watching “Miracle” after Bylsma had already been given the job, but couldn’t say anything due to a gag order from USA Hockey.
Yes, Dan Bylsma cried at the end of “Miracle” because he knew he was going to be coaching the U.S. Olympic hockey team 34 years after Herb Brooks beat the Russians.
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