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Pittsburgh Penguins fire Dan Bylsma, hire Jim Rutherford

Dan Bylsma is out as Pittsburgh's head coach despite all his success.
Dan Bylsma is out as Pittsburgh's head coach despite all his success.
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Only one team can win the Stanley Cup every year. You can have a great season without winning a Cup. The Pittsburgh Penguins have been unequivocally one of the best teams in the league for several years. They haven't won a Cup since 2009, but they've been quite good. However, that apparently wasn't enough. The Penguins fired General Manager Ray Shero already this offseason, but now they have also fired head coach Dan Bylsma. To replace Shero, and to find a new head coach, the Penguins have hired Jim Rutherford. Hey, at least it wasn't Pierre McGuire.

Look, by the numbers, there is no justification for the firing of Shero or Bylsma. Their track records were both quite good. Sure, the Penguins have primarily succeeded because of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but they've also managed to keep getting good young prospects and turning some of them into veterans to help a team that clearly is hoping to win now. It's a tricky thing to do, and they've done it. They just haven't won a Cup, or appeared in the finals. If that's your primary goal, that's fine, but that can't be the only qualification for success.

Bylsma is the winningest coach in Penguins history. Seriously. They called him up for the AHL, and the team excelled under him. Are their better coaches? Probably, but only a few, and none of them are on the market. The Penguins will need to unearth the next young coach in the vein of Bylsma to even get equal value. There wasn't really any point to firing Bylsma, other than to shake things up. Plus, the Penguins have now missed out on Barry Trotz. Nice work, everybody.

Rutherford has a long track record in the NHL. He had been in Carolina for years, and he helped build the team that won the Cup. Of course, the Hurricanes have not had any success recently, although drafting Jeff Skinner has worked out, and Rutherford recently "stepped down" so Ron Francis could take over and presumably hire some former Hurricane to be the coach. Will Rutherford do better than Shero? His track record gives me no confidence, personally.

As for Bylsma, he'll be fine. He'll get a job this offseason. I've heard the Florida Panthers really want him, and that would be great for a young, up-and-coming team. It's not the Penguins, but it would keep Bylsma in the game. This looks like it is shaping up to be the offseason of the retread head coach. While I usually don't like those hirings, I'm looking at you Nashville, when guys like Trotz and Bylsma are on the market, you snatch them up.