The Buffalo Sabres today announced Dan Bylsma has been hired as the 17th head coach in franchise history. With 479 total games coached during six NHL seasons, Bylsma becomes the most experienced head coach to join the Sabres since the team hired Scotty Bowman in 1979.
Bylsma comes to the Sabres after spending six seasons as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he led the Penguins to a 252-117-32 overall regular-season record, becoming the winningest head coach in Penguins history. His career record gives him the best points percentage (.668) of any head coach in NHL history with at least three full seasons coached.
In 2008-09, his first year as an NHL head coach, Bylsma took over a Pittsburgh team that ranked 10th in the Eastern Conference with just 25 games remaining in the regular season. Under Bylsma, the Penguins went 18-3-4 to finish the season fourth in the conference before going 16-8 in the playoffs on the way to the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 16 years.
Bylsma won the Jack Adams Award in 2011 as the league's "most outstanding coach" following a season that saw Pittsburgh overcome adversity to post one of the best regular-season records in franchise history. The Penguins went 49-25-8 and won the Atlantic Division that season despite ranking near the top of the league with 350 man games lost due to injury, including 119 from the team's top three forwards in ice time per game (Sidney Crosby-41, Jordan Staal-39, Evgeni Malkin-39).
Pittsburgh would go on to qualify for the playoffs in all six seasons under Bylsma's leadership, winning two division titles (2012-13, 2013-14) and posting the best record in the Eastern Conference in 2012-13. His success throughout these seasons made him the fastest coach in NHL history to reach 250 wins, a feat he accomplished after just 396 regular-season games. Bylsma led the Penguins to at least 100 points in every full season he spent with the team.
In addition to his coaching achievements at the professional level, Bylsma has found success in international competition. He made his international debut as head coach of Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where the United States went undefeated in group play before finishing fourth in the tournament. Bylsma also served as assistant coach at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, where the U.S. again won its group and went on to earn the bronze medal with a win against the Czech Republic in the medal round.
At the time of his hiring by the Penguins in February 2009, Bylsma was in the midst of his first season as head coach of Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, a post he took up after four seasons as assistant coach with the New York Islanders, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (AHL).
Before his first coaching job as assistant coach in Cincinnati in 2004-05, Bylsma played in parts of nine NHL seasons as a forward for the Los Angeles Kings and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, tallying 62 points (19 goals, 43 assists) in 429 regular-season NHL games. He was a member of the 2002-03 Mighty Ducks team that won the first Western Conference Championship in franchise history and eventually fell just one win short of lifting the Stanley Cup.