Dan Bylsma's Shelf Life Has Expired by @MadChad412

Fromthepoint.com

Pittsburgh Penguins' head coach Dan Bylsma is a fan-favorite by most accounts. Upper management for the Pens' seems to have taken a liking to him as well, as they should. Bylsma has already won the Stanley Cup as Pens' head coach, along with becoming the fastest coach in NHL history to win 200 games. He's adopted the city of Pittsburgh and the fans have adopted him as one of their own. 

But every coach has a shelf life, especially in the NHL.

It looks as though Bylsma's shelf life has expired with the Penguins. I know this isn't the type of stuff people want to hear or read right now and I hate being the bearer of bad news but Bylsma's time as head coach is about to be over.
Since winning the Cup, Bylsma and the Pens are 1-3 in playoff series, losing the last three series consecutively, including back to back first round exits. I'll give Bylsma a pass in 2010-2011 when the Pens lost in the first round to the Tampa Bay Lightning because the Pens were without the services of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Even with that pass, Bylsma's time as Pens' head coach needs to come to an end unless the Pens somehow make it to the Stanley Cup final and/or win the Stanley Cup itself.

In all honesty, I myself wouldn't bring Bylsma back as the head coach unless the Pens get to the Cup Final, at the very least the Eastern Conference Finals. Bylsma has arguably the best roster in the NHL to work with; he has the world's best player in Sidney Crosby, and another world class player in Evgeni Malkin who is a former Art Ross, Conn Smythe, and Hart Trophy winner.

General Manager Ray Shero has gone out and added former two time Rocket Richard Trophy winner Jarome Iginla, along with the likes of all-stars James Neal and Jussi Jokinen, not to mention Paul Martin, Douglas Murray and Matt Niskanen over the past few years to put together in my mind the best roster in hockey. Yet the Pens are currently struggling and being outplayed and out-coached by an eight-seed in the New York Islanders with the series being tied going into Thursday night's game five in Pittsburgh. Only twice have the Pens out-shot the Islanders in the series but in all honesty the Pens really haven't outplayed the Islanders in any game since game one.

Of course not everything is Bylsma's fault. Marc-Andre Fleury is having another playoff meltdown, the Pens can't stop taking penalties, and they can't stop turning the puck over. Bylsma doesn't play so it's hard to put all the blame on him; however, it's really hard to think of any big adjustments that he's made.

Mark Madden pointed out that the Pens switched to the neutral zone trap in 1992, so perhaps they should try something like that. Look at last year's playoffs for example; the Pens played the same way in every game, and in every game they got beat badly. In that series, like this one, they played terrible defense, turned the puck over, took bad penalties, and let up a ton of goals. Sound familiar? It's Déjà vu all over again.

The difference between this year and last is the Pens have even more talent and are playing a worse team. Despite having a ton of playoff experience and a locker room full of talent and leaders, the Pens lack composure, and play with their egos blaring like the sun. There is no sense of accountability, no fear of making a mistake. There is a total lack of discipline, as optional practices after embarrassing performances and humiliating losses goes to show.

Some pro-Bylsma people say that he's made adjustments and the players aren't performing. This is still a big problem as it makes it seem like Bylsma has lost the locker room. If the coaches' message and adjustments aren't producing different results then you need to make a change. It's easier and more logical to replace the head coach instead of doing a complete overhaul of one of the best rosters in hockey.

The Pens went from a disciplinarian in Michelle Therrien, who for all of his faults took a very young Pens' team all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, to a friendly player's coach who seems to have set a country club atmosphere from all reports. It seems like it's time for another change. Especially if the Pens fail to go far in the playoffs again. 

Bylsma did make the gutsy move by changing goalies with the series tied. Tomas Vokoun will start in game five tonight and it was really the only move Bylsma could make. What other changes will we see from Bylsma? Will he move Iginla back to right wing? Will other players be benched or scratched for poor play and bad penalties? Will Bylsma make any adjustments as far as zone-entry or neutral-zone play?

It's not as if the Pens management wouldn't have given Bylsma a fair chance to succeed. Along with a plethora of talent, Pens' ownership has backed Bylsma 100%. Bylsma is in his fourth full year as head coach, which in the NHL is a lifetime. 

People will come to defend Bylsma saying things like "who would you replace him with?" I would answer that with anyone. Most Pens' fans didn't even know who Bylsma was until he became the head coach. I’m sure there's not one coach that wouldn't love a chance to coach for this organization and this kind of talent {see Lindy Ruff}.

I know people will say it's not all Bylsma's fault and that he's done great in the regular season and it’s true he has and is a good coach, but every coach has a shelf life and his inability to get back to the promised land and at least get to the Cup final, it would appear Bylsma's shelf life in Pittsburgh has expired.

If the Pens don't pull the trigger and make a coaching change, they could look back with a lot of regret by not having more playoff success in Crosby and Malkin's prime. It's not all Bylsma's fault, but he has to take his fair share of the blame. A deep playoff run is vital for his job security. In fact, only a trip to the Cup final will save his job. 
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About Chad Nolan

Steelers, Pens, Pirates....Yup
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