Report: Head coach Dan Bylsma, GM Ray Shero axed in Pittsburgh
Following yet another disappointing postseason, the Pittsburgh Penguins have fired both head coach Dan Bylsma and general manager Ray Shero, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. Bylsma coached the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in 2009, but have failed to even make it back to a Cup final since then.
PIT will announce this morning GM Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma have been fired. #TSN
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) May 16, 2014
Shero was named GM of the year in 2013, but not even that outweighed his failure this year to build a Cup-winning team. Following the Penguins collapse in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the New York Rangers, a series that the Penguins led 3-1 before eventually being ousted in seven games, it was rumored that the other shoe had finally dropped for Shero and Bylsma.
Since winning that Cup in ’09 and having one of the best collection of core players in the NHL, highlighted by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, expectations have been high in Pittsburgh. Bylsma couldn’t squeeze another Cup out of the Penguins, and Shero failed to build the right roster around Malkin and Crosby. In addition to those two, wingers Jussi Jokinen, James Neal and Chris Kunitz all provided solid complementary offense, but the Penguins seemed to struggle with playing a two-way game in the postseason, and a number of errors from highly-paid defenseman Kris Letang proved quite costly.
The future of the Pittsburgh Penguins remains in flux now. There are a few solid head coaching candidates right now, namely John Tortorella and Barry Trotz. Replacing Shero may prove to be more difficult, and there’s no telling what the new management may do with the roster- rumors have swirled that Neal, Letang and possibly even Malkin may be moved to help faciliate a large return in order to rebuild the roster.
It will be quite interesting to see in the coming months just what happens to one of the NHL more successful franchises. There’s no telling if the axing of Shero and Bylsma will even be the most seismic move the Penguins make this offseason. Stay tuned!
UPDATE: Shero was fired at the press conference, but Penguins leadership is leaving the fate of Bylsma up to the next general manager. Jason Botterill, who previously served as Shero’s assistant general manager and was linked to multiple GM vacancies this season, takes over on an interim basis and will handle the 2014 NHL Draft for the Penguins.
Early speculation from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Dejan Kovacevic suggests that Bylsma is very unlikely to keep his job as head coach. Also, he noted that an early candidate to replace Shero is Pat Brisson, who currently acts as an NHL player agent. His top client? Sidney Crosby.
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