The typical NHL coach has the shelf life of a bruised pear.
Those who work for the Penguins often do not last nearly that long.
Dan Bylsma, who Wednesday signed a three-year contract extension that runs through the 2013-14 season, is the franchise's 23rd coach since it entered the NHL in 1967. Only two, Red Kelly and Ed Johnston, spent three consecutive full seasons and part of a fourth on the job.
But, while the position doesn't have a legacy of security for the guy holding it, general manager Ray Shero seems confident Bylsma is capable of defying those 4 1/2 decades of precedent.
"I think we've got the right coach," he said. "Ownership recognizes that. I certainly recognize that.
"The successful organizations have a plan in place, and a belief in the people they have, and they stick to that. ... Dan is the right coach for this hockey team moving forward, in the short term and the long term."
Bylsma replaced Michel Therrien as coach in mid-February 2009. (Therrien, it should be noted, had signed a three-year contract in the summer of 2008 and will remain on the Penguins payroll for a few more months, even though he hasn't been behind their bench in nearly 25 months.) The Penguins won a Stanley Cup about four months after Bylsma took over and are 104-52-19 under him. He already shares the franchise record for playoff series won (5), which speaks not only to his success but to the frequent turnover in his job over the years.
"I've been made aware several times of the longevity of Pittsburgh Penguins coaches," Bylsma said. "I might not be smart enough to have it dawn on me that that should be something I should be concerned about."
Actually, there doesn't seem to have been much reason for him to fret about it. Back when the Penguins were sputtering through the early weeks of this season, Shero let Bylsma know that the job was his.
"The team wasn't doing very well, but I sat down with him and said, 'Listen, you're my coach. I'm going to talk to you about a new contract at some point here,' " Shero said. "I was pretty sure we had a pretty good team back in October and November. I was 100 percent sure we had the right coach."
The contracts of assistant coaches Tony Granato and Todd Reirden will expire after this season, but Shero said he intends to work out new deals with them. The same is true, he added, of Wilkes-Barre coach John Hynes and his assistant, Alain Nasreddine.
"Both staffs have done really good jobs," Shero said. "We want to move forward with all these guys."
Dave Molinari: firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published March 10, 2011 5:00 AM