Disco Dan is dancing his way out of Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma was spared when the team fired general manager Ray Shero last month, but Bylsma was fired Friday. Bylsma was relieved of his duties by Jim Rutherford, who was hired as the team’s new general manager earlier in the day.
“Dan is a good man and a good coach, but I thought we needed a change in direction moving forward,” Rutherford said in a statement. “I have no doubt that he will go on to be a head coach in the National Hockey League and have success. The search for our new head coach will begin immediately.”
Rutherford further explained the decision-making process at his introductory news conference. He said that ownership wanted to make changes when it came to the people in power, which is why Shero and Bylsma are gone.
“I took the information from the people that were here,” Rutherford explained. “I didn’t have several meetings with Dan to get to know him or evaluate or take his side of the story. I took the information over the last week with the couple of meetings I had and we agreed that making the change was the right thing to do.”
Bylsma has been criticized in the past for a perceived inability to adjust as games or even series progress, and Rutherford wants a head coach who is able to adapt.
“We’re going to have to have a coach who can make the proper adjustments,” he said. “Looking at the Penguins from a distance, because that’s where I was, I don’t think they could make the proper adjustments against certain teams.”
Bylsma enjoyed early success with the Penguins. He won a Stanley Cup after taking over during the 2008-09 season, but the Penguins have been a bit of a disappointment since. Pittsburgh, despite having two of the game’s best players in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, hasn’t been back to the Stanley Cup Final. The Penguins actually have only reached the Eastern Conference finals once since Bylsma was hired, and that series ended in sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins.
Pittsburgh won its third division title under Bylsma this season, but the Penguins were eliminated by the New York Rangers in the second round.
“We want to thank Dan for everything he has done for the Penguins organization,” co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle said in a joint statement. “He’ll always be remembered as a big part of Pittsburgh sports history for his role in our Stanley Cup championship in 2009. We wish all the best to him and his family.”