Dan Bylsma
Dan Bylsma.jpg
Bylsma waving a Penguins flag during the 2009 Stanley Cup victory parade.
Position Right winger
Shot Left
6 ft 2 in (0 m)
214 lb (97 kg)
F. Teams
Oakville Blades
St. Marys Lincolns
Bowling Green State Univ.
Greensboro Monarchs
Rochester Americans
Albany River Rats
Moncton Hawks
Springfield Falcons
Lowell Lock Monsters
Cincinnati Mighty Ducks
Phoenix Roadrunners
Long Beach Ice Dogs
Los Angeles Kings
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Olympics 2014
World Championships 2015, 2018, 2019
Coaching 2004-2005 Cincinnati Mighty Ducks
2005-2006 New York Islanders
2006-2009 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
2009-2014 Pittsburgh Penguins
2014-2015, 2018-2019 United States National Team
2015-2017 Buffalo Sabres
2018-2019 Dubuque Fighting Saints
2018-present Detroit Red Wings
Nationality Flag of the United States American
Born September 19, 1970,
Grand Haven, Michigan, USA
NHL Draft 109th overall, 1989
Winnipeg Jets
Pro Career 1986 – 2004

Dan Bylsma (born 19 September 1970) is a retired American ice hockey player and currently the assistant coach of the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL. He was drafted in the sixth round (109th Overall) of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, by the Winnipeg Jets. On June 12, 2009, four months after becoming head coach in Pittsburgh, Dan Bylsma coached the Penguins to their third Stanley Cup Championship in 7 games over the Detroit Red Wings and defeated his arch-rival Mike Babcock.

Early life[edit | edit source]

During his high-school days, Bylsma was a standout in many sports, including golf, baseball, and ice hockey. Bylsma graduated from Western Michigan Christian High School where he won the Class D golf individual championship as a freshman. He also played baseball and was the starting left fielder as a freshman on Christian's 1985 State championship team. In his senior year, he was a member of the all-state all-class "Dream Team" (the best player at each position in the state - all classes), and won many regional baseball honors.

Bylsma played amateur hockey in Muskegon Junior Hockey, Norton Shores Recreational Leagues, and Grand Rapids G.R.A.H.A. before playing Junior "B" hockey in Canada for the St. Mary's Lincolns of the Ontario Hockey Association. Bylsma went on to play college hockey at Bowling Green State University from 1988–1992 and was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in his freshman year. He was twice selected to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association All Academic Team and once earned Honorable Mention. He was a Bowling Green Scholar Athlete all four years and won the Jack Gregory Award for the highest grade point average on the team in his Sophomore season and the Howard Brown Coaches' Award for excellence in his Senior year. Bylsma is one of few players in the C.C.H.A. to have scored a short handed goal while his team was two men short.

League Team Year Games G A P
C.C.H.A. BGSU 88-89 37 4 11 15
C.C.H.A. BGSU 89-90 41 14 16 30
C.C.H.A. BGSU 90-91 35 11 14 25
C.C.H.A. BGSU 91-92 34 12 14 26

Professional playing career[edit | edit source]

Despite being drafted by the Winnipeg Jets, Bylsma never played a game for them, and was signed by the Los Angeles Kings in the summer of 1994. During the 1994-95 labor stoppage, Bylsma earned the nickname "Disco Dan". The nickname was adopted by teammates while playing for a minor league team in Phoenix. Veteran goaltender Byron Dafoe already went by Bylsma's former moniker of "Bysie" so the name "Disco Dan" was given due to Bylsma's penchant for dancing in the clubhouse.[1]

He played parts of five seasons for the Kings, acting as a defensive forward. In his first season, when he played only four games for the Kings, he was captain of their International Hockey League (IHL) affiliate, the Phoenix Roadrunners. He also played for the Long Beach Ice Dogs, who were the Kings' IHL affiliate after the Roadrunners folded in 1997. Bylsma played 95 American Hockey League (AHL) games with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, the Lowell Lock Monsters, the Springfield Falcons, the Albany River Rats, the Moncton Hawks and the Rochester Americans, and reached the Calder Cup Finals in 1994.

Signed as a free agent by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the summer of 2000, Bylsma was a steadying influence on a rebuilding Anaheim team, and was made an alternate captain. In his second season, he set a career high in points (17).

Bylsma struggled his entire career to stay in the NHL, mostly due to a lack of natural offensive ability (his primary role in the NHL had always been penalty killing). Injuries took a toll in later years, and before being put on waivers in January 2004, Bylsma missed 31 games due to knee surgery. He retired from playing following the 2003-04 season.

Coaching career[edit | edit source]

Bylsma served as an assistant coach with the AHL's Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (2004–05) and the NHL's New York Islanders (2005–06). During the 2008-09 season, Bylsma coached the Penguins' AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

On February 15, 2009, with the Pittsburgh Penguins struggling to make the playoffs, the Penguins organization announced that it had relieved head coach Michel Therrien of his duties and had promoted Bylsma to serve as interim head coach of the team. At 38, he was the youngest head coach in the NHL at the time. Through his first 25 games as Penguins' coach, his 18–3–4 record amounted to 40 points—the second most of any coach in NHL history through their first 25 games. On April 28, Penguins General Manager Ray Shero announced that Bylsma had been named permanent head coach of the team. On June 12, 2009 Bylsma led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship, becoming the 14th coach and the second mid-season replacement to win the Stanley Cup in their first season.

In 2014, he was the head coach of the USA at the 2014 Olympics.

For season 2014-15, he was the assistant coach of the US team. He won a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championship.

Between 2015 and 2017 he was the Sabres' head coach.

In 2018 and 2019 he was the assistant coach of the United States national team again and in 2018 he won another bronze medal at the World Championship.

In 2018 Bylsma became the franchise part-owner of the Dubuque Fighting Saints and since 2018 he is the assistant coach of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Lucky Burrito[edit | edit source]

During the final weeks of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, a superstition caught on among Pittsburgh fans. Before several home games, Bylsma would stop by a Qdoba restaurant and order an Ancho Chile BBQ Pork Burrito. When he ate the burrito before a game, the Penguins' record was nearly undefeated (22-1). Bylsma himself did not believe in the superstition, but rather claimed that it calmed him, saying that he enjoyed having the same routine to calm his nerves before a game, and a part of this routine was stopping by Qdoba to pick up the burrito.

Books and charity work[edit | edit source]

Bylsma, along with his father Jay, has written four books, two on what it takes to make the NHL, and two sports novels, one about baseball, the other basketball. For 11 years Bylsma has run a hockey camp in Michigan, and he also runs a charity to assist youths with the expense of playing hockey.

Coaching record[edit | edit source]

Note: The coach's overall points percentage (½ Points earned ÷ Games coached) is shown in the "Total" row of the Pts column.
Team Year Regular season Playoffs
G W L OTL Pts Finish G W L Result
PIT 2008–09 25 18 3 4 (99) 2nd in Atlantic 24 16 8 Won Stanley Cup
Total 25 18 3 4 .800
  • Bylsma joined the Penguins 57 games into their season, when the team had 59 points; Bylsma added 40 points to that.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Anderson, Shelly. "NHL Playoffs: Bylsma's success reads like fish story", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2009-04-14. Retrieved on 2009-06-19. 

External links[edit | edit source]

Preceded by
Todd Richards
Head Coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Succeeded by
Todd Reirden
Preceded by
Michel Therrien
Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Succeeded by
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