Bylsma Named Head Coach for 2014 Olympics
Former WBS coach to lead USA in Sochi, Russia
By Mike O'Brien
It has been quite a journey for Dan Bylsma.
Formerly a coach with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, now leading Team USA at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia and a bevy of highlights in between.
USA Hockey officially announced Bylsma as Head Coach of the U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team that will participate in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
It is the latest honor for one of the most successful coaches in Penguins team history. The Michigan-native joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the 2006-07 season as an assistant under new head coach Todd Richards. After Richards was hired by the San Jose organization during the summer of 2008, Bylsma got his chance to guide Pittsburgh's AHL-affiliate. Few could have predicted how the ensuing season would unfold.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went 35-26-1-2 and were one point out of first place in the East Division when Bylsma was promoted to the Pittsburgh Penguins to replace Michel Therrien. Once in the NHL, Bylsma piloted the Penguins to 18 wins over the final 25 games of the regular season and a run through the playoffs that culminated with the third Stanley Cup Championship for Pittsburgh. He went on to also earn the 2011 Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s “Most Outstanding Coach”.
Saturday's selection by USA Hockey presents the latest honor and challenge for Bylsma.
"I can only come short on how it feels,” Bylsma said in an interview with pittsburghpenguins.com. “Really excited about the opportunity. I think as each moment passes, I’m more and more honored about the opportunity to wear the red, white and blue and to be the head coach of this hockey team and going over to Russia to win a gold medal."
“Just thinking about it and some of the challenges of picking a team, getting such a short time with that team before you go and play such meaningful games right off the hop when you get to Russia, it’s going to be such a short time,” Bylsma continued. “The challenges are going to be great. Not just for the travel getting over there, the time change, but really one or two practices going into that tournament. You think of some of those things."
Bylsma is no stranger to working with some of the top players in the world with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on his squad in Pittsburgh, but now he is tasked with combining the best the USA has to offer and navigating them at the Olympics next February.
He'll have familiar help in Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero, who was also named associate general manager for Team USA.
From Northeastern Pennsylvania to the highest level of competition on the international stage, it's been a long and winding road for Bylsma. Hopefully, the latest stop will result in gold.
Complete audio of Dan Bylsma at USA Hockey press conference
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