June 24, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS — Before Pittsburgh Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma won the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year, he needed to figure what to say if he did receive the honor on Las Vegas this week.
A speech running over 2 minutes was edited, edited and edited again. There needed to be some sacrifices — sorry, reference to the media. On Wednesday, he had it down to a sleek 45-seconds of running time.
So the man does his homework. He wouldn't say how much of it he's done on Jaromir Jagr, the former Penguins star who has Pittsburgh and the Detroit Red Wings on a short list of teams for his possible return to the NHL. But he's made himself familiar with the 39-year-old winger.
"It seems to be on the front-burner now," said Bylsma of the Jagr news. "Detroit's been mentioned. Mike Babcock's talked to him. Yes, we've talked about him."
What does he see Jagr adding to the Penguins?
"To just think about, from the pure aspect of adding a guy who in his last year in the National Hockey League had 75 points. A guy who could really be a big part of some offense down low — you saw that in the world championship. And the intriguing part of the power play aspect of it," said Bylsma.
"We have to have different sets and different looks," he said of the power play. "We're going to have four forwards out there at times. We're going to be able to have a couple of different sets."
Having Jagr as a weapon on that unit would certainly make a difference, too.
"It's something you have to think about, you have to consider: Could this guy fit in and be an addition with the guys we already have?'" asked Bylsma.
Is he concerned with Jagr's reputation as being difficult to coach?
"If I had done homework," he said, his words winking, "that's not what I hear from coaches. It's not what I hear from teammates who may or may not have played with him at the world championships."
Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek(notes) may or may not have played with Jagr at worlds this year, where the Czechs finished third. And he may or may not have said this about Jagr after the Czechs beat the U.S. in worlds: "What can you say about Jagr? … He's unbelievable. He's 39 but playing like a 20-year-old, flying on the ice. He's so strong."