On Sunday during the Penguins breakup day, head coach Dan Bylsma sounded like a coach trying to say all the right things he felt management wanted to hear.
Bylsma is confident that he will back next season but a decision has yet to be made by the organization. As Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review points out, Shero is in consultation with with majority co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle and CEO David Morehouse, though, the final say is expected to come from Shero.
Shero I’m told wants to keep Bylsma as coach and the key issue is selling ownership on giving Bylsma a contract extension, sources tell Inside Pittsburgh Sports.com. If ownership is suddenly now lukewarm about extending Bylsma’s contract, it could play a huge factor into Shero’s final decision with Shero possibly not being comfortable enough to bring Bylsma back as a lame duck coach.
Shero has had intentions to extend Bylsma’s contract this summer by two years and make him one of the NHL’s highest paid coaches with a salary nearing the $2 million per season range. Just a few weeks ago, extending Bylsma’s contract appeared to be something ownership would be fully behind, but now there could obviously be a pause from ownership.
If Bylsma were to be let go, here’s three names (2 NHL coaches, 1 AHL) gaining some buzz as potential top candidates for the Penguins were the job to open.
1. Dave Tippett – Age 51 | 427-252-28-79 Record | Phoenix Coyotes (2009-13), Dallas Stars (2002-09), LA Kings Assistant 1999-2002, Houston (IHL) 1996-99
Buzz: Under contract till June 30th, Tippett’s first choice is to return to Phoenix but Pittsburgh is the one potential job opening many around the league are saying he could leave for. Tippett, a former Penguin, played with co-owner Mario Lemieux in 1992-1993 and he would implement a strong defensive structure from day 1. Tippett is well respected by players and is known to get along with veterans. He coached star players while in Dallas from 2002-2009, so how he would handle Crosby and Malkin shouldn’t be a concern. Tippett has gotten the most out of his teams and goaltenders flourish in his system, something that would surely intrigue the Penguins. The biggest question with Tippett would be whether he would open the offense enough to managements liking.
2. Alain Vigneault – Age 52 | 422-288-35-61 Record | Vancouver Canucks (2006-13), Montreal Canadiens (1997-2000), Ottawa Senators (1992-96) Assistant
Buzz: Were the Penguins to make a coaching change, Shero is still going to want a guy who will let his skilled players showcase their talent and give them freedom to be creative. Vigneault likes to preach offense, similar to Bylsma, but his teams have been much stronger defensively. Vancouver has ranked in the top-10 in goals against average in four of the last five seasons under Vigneault, including ranking 1st in the league in 2010-2011, giving up just 2.20 goals per game. Shero also has a familiarity with Vigneault as Vigneault was an assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators in the 1990’s when Shero was the Senators assistant GM.
3. John Hynes – Wilkes Barre/Scranton Head Coach
Buzz: The Penguins regard Hynes as a rising coach in NHL circles, but it would seem like an odd move to promote Hynes. Hynes, though, is highly regarded in the organization and would likely garner an interview I’m told.