FORMER WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON HEAD COACH MAKES HOCKEY HISTORY
WILKES-BARRE, PA – Dan Bylsma made professional hockey history on Tuesday night, becoming the first person ever to start a season as an American Hockey League head coach and then guide a National Hockey League team to the Stanley Cup Finals in the same season.
Bylsma, 38, was named head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL) on August 4, 2008. He led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to a 35-16-1-2 record (W-L-OTL-SOL) in 53 games during the 2008-09 season, before being promoted to interim head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 15.
Bylsma took over a Pittsburgh club sitting in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with a 27-25-5 record, and in danger of missing the playoffs just one season after advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals. The native of Grand Haven, MI, then led Pittsburgh to an 18-3-4 record over the final 25 games of the regular season, moving the team up to fourth place in the conference standings in the process.
The former Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks forward has since guided the team to wins over the Philadelphia Flyers (4-2), Washington Capitals (4-3) and Carolina Hurricanes (4-0) to land a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals against either the Detroit Red Wings or Chicago Blackhawks.
Bylsma is the second consecutive former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach to take part in a Stanley Cup Finals series. Michel Therrien led the AHL club from 2003-2005, and guided Pittsburgh to the championship round last year against the Red Wings.