Dan Bylsma is going back home to his native Michigan, but not to retire from coaching. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The Red Wings have hired the former Penguins and Sabres head man to be an assistant under incumbent Jeff Blashill. Detroit announced the news Friday morning, with the 47-year-old Bylsma returning to the NHL after a year working in television.
Bylsma made it through just two seasons of a five-year contract he signed with Buffalo in the summer of 2015, with the Sabres missing the Stanley Cup playoffs in each of his seasons in charge there. Previously, Bylsma led the Penguins to six playoff berths, starting with that remarkable late-season run to the title in 2009, when he took over for Michel Therrien at midseason.
Coaching under Blashill will require an adjustment for Bylsma. He hasn’t served as an assistant coach since 2005-06, when he was with the Islanders. Previous to that, he was an assistant in the AHL for one season.
The unspoken part of this agreement is that Bylsma would be a coach-in-waiting should the Red Wings not perform to expectations at the start of next season. Detroit has a cumulative record of 104-105-7 in the three years since former wunderkind Blashill was promoted from AHL Grand Rapids to lead the Wings.
Or, perhaps there will be synergy between the two men, both of whom are young for the profession — Blashill is 44 — and both of whom are born-and-raised Michiganders. Also, Blashill and Bylsma have served on Team USA coaching staffs on multiple occasions in the past.
At any rate, the man who made such an early impression in Pittsburgh nearly a decade ago will get another chance to re-establish his coaching credentials, albeit without the pressure of having the final call.
This news continues an eventful offseason for coaching moves, coming one day after former Capitals coach Barry Trotz signed a five-year deal with the Islanders. Earlier this week, Trotz resigned his position in Washington after helping the Caps claim their first Cup.