It’s been a month of milestones for the Pittsburgh Penguins organization and now head coach Dan Bylsma has added to that list.
Yesterday, Bylsma coached his 200th career NHL game against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum. Pittsburgh won that game in regulation by a score of 3-0 which also marked the 20th career shut-out for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Coincidentally, 200 games earlier, Bylsma was in the exact same place on February 16, 2009 debuting as the “interim” head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. They lost that game to the Islanders in a shootout (3-2), but they ultimately went on to win the Stanley Cup that season making him the 14th rookie coach to win the coveted trophy.
“It’s certainly not that many years, but I do feel like it’s a pretty long time ago, at least when you look back,” Bylsma said prior to Tuesday’s contest. “Always coming in here, there’s memories of a lot of firsts. My first game, even in the coaches’ room here and in the players’ room, there’s some memories of firsts. Ironically, we are back for 200 here.”
Prior to coaching, Bylsma played junior hockey then went on to play four seasons for Bowling Green State University (1988-1992). Although never playing for them, he was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 1989 and spent nine NHL seasons playing for both the Los Angeles Kings (1994-1999) and the Anaheim Ducks (2000-2004).
He began coaching as an assistant for the AHL’s Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (2004-05) and New York Islanders (2005-06) immediately following retirement after the 2003-04 season with the Ducks. He was also the head coach of the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre Scranton Baby Penguins before ultimately becoming the head coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins.