Contrary to credible reports from TSN, the CBC and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Dan Bylsma is remaining in Pittsburgh…for now. Early Friday morning, reports had surfaced that the Penguins had fired both General Manager (GM) Ray Shero and Head Coach Dan Bylsma, but new reports released have said that only Shero had lost his job and that Bylsma’s fate will reside in the hands of whoever the new GM will be.
This leaves Pittsburgh and their lame duck coach in a tough situation. With Bylsma being under contract for two more years, while his fate is being decided behind closed doors, other teams looking for coaches cannot talk to him. If the search for a permanent general manager takes longer than expected and Bylsma still ends up being fired, teams like the Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals, the two teams that most likely would pursue him, may have already found a new head coach. This would inevitably place Bylsma in a state of limbo with no place to call home, a bad deal for Bylsma and a blow to image of the Pittsburgh organization.
It is not expected that the Penguins would do that to their franchise’s winningest coach, who in five years has won a Stanley Cup, has a franchise record-high with 252 wins and a franchise-high .670 win-percentage. So if a coaching change is to occur, expect the decision to be made quickly. That being said, if the Penguins do in fact decide to keep Bylsma, it would not be surprising to see another person – or player – receiving their walking papers. One name that would surely surface in that case would be the man that has probably taken the most lashings for the Penguins playoff short-comings in recent years – Marc-Andre Fleury.
With only one year remaining on his contract, it would not be a shock to see the Pens try to move Fleury out. The need for a good goalie is always desirable around the league and Fleury has proven to be a worthwhile net-minder during the regular season. His post-season numbers, however, tell a different story. In the four years after winning the Stanley Cup, Fleury had put up dreadful numbers in his following 31 postseason games played (3.36 GAA, .877 save percentage). However, this year Fleury had put up some of his best playoff numbers of his career.
In 13 games played in this year’s postseason, Fleury posted a 2.40 GAA, a .915 save percentage and two shutouts. Those are all second best to his 2007-08 playoff numbers, but are better numbers than when he hoisted Lord Stanley in 2009. The changing of the guard in net for the Pens could prove to be a good move for both the franchise and the player, as a change in scenery could do just the trick for both in order to find more success.
In Pittsburgh, the hunt for a new GM is already under way. The organization has already named assistant GM Jason Boterill as the interim general manager, but it is unknown if he will be filling that role permanently. Whether or not the new GM decides to keep Bylsma remains to be seen, but for now the ax has not fully dropped. If Bylsma does happen to stay in Pittsburgh, it would not be surprising to see another different big name leave in the search for answers in reshaping their franchise future. Either way, Pittsburgh fans will be in for quite an offseason, especially in these next few weeks.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles
Read Me @ GuardianLV