Dan Bylsma. (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)
The New Jersey Devils already brought in former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero, but they could be after another former Penguin in bench boss Dan Bylsma. Though it hasn't been confirmed by Pittsburgh, it has been reported the Devils have been given permission to speak with Bylsma regarding their vacant coaching position.
From late in the 2008-09 season until the culmination of the 2013-14 campaign, GM Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma were the architects behind the Pittsburgh Penguins club that won one Stanley Cup and fell just a few wins short of returning to the final. Now it appears they could be reunited in New Jersey.
According to Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Penguins are looking for a way to acquire additional draft picks in the first few rounds of the 2015 draft and one option might be to land compensation for another team hiring Bylsma, who is still under contract with the club even though he was relieved of his duties following the 2013-14 campaign. And, Molinari reports, while it's known that Bylsma has interviewed for the openings in Buffalo and San Jose, it's believed that he has also been given permission to talk to New Jersey about their opening behind the bench.
With Shero taking over the GM duties in New Jersey, it would seem like Bylsma heading to the Devils could be a reunion waiting to happen.
“We don’t want to jeopardize what [Shero and Bylsma] could do going forward,” Rutherford told Molinari. “We’ll just wait to see who Dan possibly could get hired by, and make [a decision on compensation] at the time.”
Molinari acknowledged the Sabres are the likely frontrunner for Bylsma, but throwing the Devils into the mix is an interesting option for the former Penguins coach. In New Jersey, Bylsma wouldn't have the breadth of talent that he had in Pittsburgh nor would he have superstars like Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby. He would, however, have a team that isn't too far removed from a deep post-season run, even if that club did include Zach Parise, who is now in Minnesota with the Wild.
Over his tenure in Pittsburgh, Bylsma was one of the most successful coaches in club history. In his 401 games behind the Penguins bench, Bylsma recorded a record of 252-117-32 and became the winningest coach in club history. He also won 43 post-season games, 20 more than Scotty Bowman, who sits second all-time in playoff victories by a coach.
At the culmination of his run in 2014, Bylsma was the second-longest tenured coach in Penguins history, patrolling the bench for nearly six full seasons. His 401 games coached for Pittsburgh are second only to Eddie Johnston, who spent seven years in Pittsburgh and coached 516 contests.