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article imageAre the Vancouver Canucks looking at newly-fired Dan Bylsma?

By Marcus Hondro     Jun 6, 2014 in Sports
With today's announcement from Pittsburgh that the Pens have hired Jim Rutherford to replace Ray Shero, and that the G.M.'s first act was to fire coach Dan Bylsma, the question becomes - what about Bylsma? Could he end up with the Vancouver Canucks?
The Canucks of course let John Tortorella go last month, doing so before new president Trevor Linden had even hired his GM, who turned out to be former Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning. The two are reportedly interviewing candidates for the head coaching vacancy this week.
To be sure Linden and Benning have candidates lined up to interview, including AHL coach Willie Desjardins (Texas Stars), Portland Winter Hawks coach Mike Johnstone, an assistant under Alain Vigneault in Vancouver, and L.A. Kings assistant coach, formerly the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, John Stevens.
Already, however, there is talk is of Bylsma coming to Vancouver, something the media in that city has suggested since Shero was fired and the writing on the wall seemed to say Bylsma would soon be gone, too.
When asked by media on Friday about Bylsma being available, Benning said this: “We’ve been in meetings all day, so we haven’t had a chance to really sit down and talk about it. But he’s an interesting name, for sure.”
Is Bylsma the best coach out there? An look at his record shows holes. Pittsburgh did win the Stanley Cup his first season there, but he replaced Michel Therrien with not much more than a quarter of the 2008-09 NHL campaign left (25 games). The players were relieved to see Therrien go and responded by going 18-3-0-4 the rest of the way and then beating Detroit in a 7-game final.
But how much of that success is directly attributed to their coach? Given the Pens had their two superstars at the top of their game (Sidney Crosby had 31 postseason points, Evgeni Malkin had 36) along with Kris Letang, Sergei Gonchar, Bill Guerin, Jordan Staal, Max Talbot, Peter Sykora, Chris Kunitz, Ruslan Fedotenko and a fully-functioning Marc-Andre Fleury, it may be all the coach had to do was open and close the door to the bench.
Since then, in the Stanley Cup playoffs Bylsma's team has been eliminated in the 3rd round once, the 2nd twice (including this year) and the first twice. Each time knocked out by clubs they were expected to beat. Is only making it past the 2nd round once in 5 seasons with all the power Pittsburgh boasts impressive? Surely it isn't and while Fleury had meltdowns, placing the blame on the goalie doesn't exonerate the coach.
Bylsma is known for coaching up-tempo, offensive hockey, but what else could he do in Pittsburgh? That is precisely what the Canucks need in a coach but they should look long and hard at the other candidates before grabbing a guy who had far more failure than success with the line-up he's had, and whose one season of success came as it did with circumstances that suggest he wasn't all that big an influence on the outcome.
The Canucks are very likely looking at Bylsma, yes, but that doesn't mean they'll take him. Nor should they.
More about trevor linden, Vancouver canucks, dan bylsma, gm jim benning, Pittsburgh penguins
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