Dan Bylsma’s going to get another head coaching job. In fact, it’ll likely be one of his choosing, having left the Pittsburgh Penguins with six straight playoff appearances, a Stanley Cup ring and, if nothing else, an unimpeachable record in the regular season in which he led winning teams through considerable adversity.
The Florida Panthers want to be in the Dan Bylsma business. According to the Sun-Sentinel, GM Dale Tallon met with Bylsma on Monday, and the team’s ownership and upper management – owners Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu, and CEO/President Rory Babich – are scheduled to meet with him in New York this week as Bylsma does some work for NHL Network as an analyst.
Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel believes that Bylsma is the favorite to become the Panthers’ next head coach, followed by former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson; Detroit Red Wings assistant Bill Peters; fellow Wings assistant and former NHL head coach Tom Renney; former Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche coach Marc Crawford; and Montreal Canadiens assistant Gerard Gallant, who coached star Jonathan Huberdeau in junior.
Tallon got to know Bylsma when the two worked on the U.S. Olympic hockey team that won whatever medal they give to the fourth place team. Maybe Nickel.
Is Florida the right fit for him?
Depends on what he wants to do. Florida is a team in transition, with a slew of young players filtering into the lineup around veterans who all seem to have expiring contracts after this season. The backbone is sturdy, of course: Roberto Luongo between the pipes.
So Bylsma wouldn’t have a goaltending headache. For a change.
He jumped into the Penguins job with both feet in 2009, taking over a reigning Eastern Conference champion. His tasks with the Penguins have ranged from “don’t be Michel Therrien” to “massage star egos” to “continue to meet these lofty expectations despite the diminishing returns in your roster depth.”
The Panthers would offer a chance for Bylsma to do the slow build, to shape a team on his own. He would go from the highest standards for excellence in the NHL (“Get Sid The Cup”) to the lowest (“Make The Playoffs.”).
If he’s down with all of this, then Florida will gladly ante up for him.
But if he doesn’t want to wait for a team to grow into a contender, better to sit out until the inevitable firing of a coach by a good team next season and doing what he’s proven he can do: Changing the vibe and winning immediately.