Remember all of the speculation surrounding Dan Bylsma's future with the Pittsburgh Penguins? You can put it to rest. Today the team announced that they have extended Bylsma's contract through the 2015-16 season. The Penguins also gave contract extensions to assistant coaches Tony Granato and Todd Reirden.
Finally. The discussion over whether the Penguins should release Bylsma is over. It seemed as if everyday a new outlet was reporting a rumor concerning Bylsma's impending dismissal. Countless hockey sites argued why Bylsma should be retained and why his time with the Penguins should end. The dialogue grew stale, but it continued to make its presence felt long after the Penguins were officially eliminated.
Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero must have decided enough was enough and figured it was time to put the speculation to rest. His announcement about Bylsma's extension led off his press conference when he addressed the media on Wednesday. His comments indicate that he thinks he has the right coaching staff for the job.
"I believe this is a group of coaches and players, foundation in place, to move forward and (compete for Stanley Cup)." -Shero
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 12, 2013
Is the decision to extend Bylsma the right one? Yes. People have tried to make the case that it isn't, but most of these arguments are based on how the Penguins have been booted from the playoffs over the last few years. This angle is a bit skewed. Pittsburgh's power play was dreadful in the 2013 playoffs, but can you really blame the head coach when numerous Penguins miss empty nets when a puck rolls past their stick? Can you blame Bylsma for countless Penguins losing their head and changing their game? Doesn't that responsibility ultimately lie on the player? Is Bylsma to blame for Pittsburgh being dominated in the physical side of the game against Boston?
In this writer's opinion, the players on the ice deserve the overwhelming majority of the blame for their 2013 failures. A large portion of the blame also lies on Shero and his overall construction of the team. Pittsburgh was dominated by Boston and their weaknesses across the roster were exposed. Shero's team looked great on paper but it lacked some of the physical toughness and mental fortitude that's required to beat a team like Boston in the playoffs. They were weak defensively and the topic of the Pittsburgh goaltending situation is one we could spend days discussing.
Bylsma isn't perfect. No one here at PDL will argue that he is. However, the decision to keep him in the mix with the Penguins is the correct one.