NHL

Why did Kraken hire Dan Bylsma as new coach? Former Penguins coach brings Stanley Cup experience to Seattle

After limping through a 34-35-13 season in 2023-24, the Kraken are set to make a splash with their latest hire.

Seattle is expected to name Dan Bylsma the second coach in franchise history, according to the Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli. The franchise announced on X, the website formerly known as Twitter, that it is holding a news conference to make a “special announcement” at 10:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday.

Bylsma, 53, is one of the most decorated tacticians in hockey, having led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup title after taking over as head coach with 25 games left in the season back in 2009. The winner of the 2011 Jack Adams Trophy for league’s best coach, Bylsma accrued a 320-190-55 record during his time in the Steel City.

Bylsma inherits a Kraken squad teeming with talent. Seattle is just one year removed from a playoff appearance — one that garnered inaugural coach Dave Hakstol Jack Adams Trophy votes.

Here’s what you need to know about the newest man set to stalk the bench in Emerald City.

Why did the Kraken reportedly hire Dan Bylsma as new coach?

Bylsma’s hire could certainly have been influenced by his prior accomplishments. Past successes can be a predictor for future success, after all.

However, he also has some experience within the Kraken’s organization. Bylsma spent each of the past two seasons coaching Seattle’s AHL affiliate,  the Coachella Valley Firebirds. Bylsma’s squad impressed in his two years on the pine, as the Firebirds appeared in the Calder Cup Finals in 2023, falling to the Hershey Bears in seven games. Coachella Valley advanced in the Western Conference playoffs once more in 2024 and awaits a seven-game series against the Milwaukee Admirals.

Bylsma experienced a similar rise in Pittsburgh, earning a promotion to the big league bench after coaching Wilkes Barre/Scranton, the Pens’ AHL affiliate. He has an eye for player development, particularly among young players. Under Bylsma’s tutelage, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Jordan Staal, and James Neal flourished.

The Kraken could use those skills, too: Matty Beniers, Shane Wright, and Jani Hyman are among youngsters housed in Seattle’s system, a sign that the franchise yearns for a youth movement.

Perhaps Bylsma — a tactician whose game plan has already been introduced to a good proportion of his roster — can facilitate such a revolution coming to fruition.

The talent is there for the Kraken to succeed. They proved as much last year. And with Jared McCann — a former 40-goal scorer —Oliver Bjorkstand, Vince Dunn, and more leading Seattle to a 100-point campaign not too long ago, a change in leadership could be just what the NHL’s youngest franchise needs as it attempts to stick out in a loaded Western Conference.

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