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Dan Bylsma
Born September 19, 1970 (1970-09-19) (age 51)
Grand Haven, Michigan
6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
215 lb (98 kg; 15 st 5 lb)
Position RW
Shoots L
Played for Los Angeles Kings
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
NHL Draft #109 overall, 1989
Winnipeg Jets
Playing career 1992–2004

Dan Bylsma (pronounced 'BILES-mah') (born 19 September 1970) is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League (NHL) as of February 15, 2009, replacing Michel Therrien. Prior to coaching the Penguins, he played as a forward in the NHL and coached in the American Hockey League (AHL). 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.

Early life[]

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[]

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[]

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.

The Lucky Burrito[]

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[]

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[]

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.


  1. Anderson, Shelly (2009-04-14). "NHL Playoffs: Bylsma's success reads like fish story". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09104/962620-61.stm. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 

External links[]

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