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Bylsma hired as coach of Kraken, replaces Hakstol

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Bylsma hired as coach of Kraken, replaces Hakstol

53-year-old will lead 1st NHL team since Sabres in 2016-17


© Bill Wippert/NHLI


Dan Bylsma was named coach of the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday.


The 53-year-old, who won the Stanley Cup as coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, replaces Dave Hakstol and is the Kraken's second coach since they joined the NHL as an expansion team for the 2021-22 season. 


Bylsma will coach in the NHL for the first time since 2016-17 with the Buffalo Sabres. He guided Seattle's American Hockey League affiliate in Coachella Valley to the Western Conference Finals of the Calder Cup Playoffs in each of his two seasons and is 320-190-55 in 565 NHL games coaching the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sabres. 


He will continue to coach Coachella Valley through the Calder Cup Playoffs. Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals is Wednesday in Palm Springs. 

“I have a familiarity with a lot of the players and staff here and think we have a chance to build something special together,” Bylsma said.


“I’d like to thank everyone with the Coachella Valley Firebirds for welcoming my wife and me with open arms, and I’d like to thank Samantha Holloway and the entire Kraken ownership group, as well as Ron Francis, for trusting me with this opportunity.”


The Kraken (34-35-3) fired Hakstol on April 29. They failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, finishing sixth in the Pacific Division, one season after advancing to the Western Conference Second Round, a seven-game loss to the Dallas Stars.


Bylsma was an assistant coach for Charlotte, the 2021-22 regular-season champions affiliated with the Kraken and Florida Panthers. He coached the Penguins to the 2009 Stanley Cup championship after replacing Michel Therrien on Feb. 15, going 18-3-4. At 38-years-old, Bylsma was the youngest coach in the NHL at the time.


Two seasons later, he won the Jack Adams Award voted as NHL coach of the year when the Penguins went 49-25-8 despite 350 man-games lost because of injury and missing forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for the final 35 regular-season games. 


“Dan is a winner with a proven track record of developing both young and veteran talent, and his leadership will help our team as we move forward,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis said.


“He has had success at every level, winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, earning a Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach in 2011, and he led the Firebirds to Game 7 of the Calder Cup Finals last year in the team’s first season.


He knows our franchise and has worked with several of our NHL players. We are excited to have him behind the bench and guiding our team next season.”


Bylsma coached the United States at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and guided the Sabres for two seasons (2015-17). He was a Detroit Red Wings assistant for three seasons before joining the Kraken player development group for the 2021-22 season.


He was also an AHL assistant in Cincinnati and Wilkes/Barre Scranton and the New York Islanders before becoming Wilkes/Barre Scranton coach in 2008-09.  


He played 429 NHL games as a forward for the Los Angeles Kings and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim after he was a sixth-round pick (No. 109) of the Winnipeg Jets in the 1989 NHL Draft. He earned the nickname "Disco Dan" while playing for Phoenix of the International Hockey League from 1994-96. 


The San Jose Sharks are the only team without a coach. Since the regular season ended, the Sabres hired Lindy Ruff on April 22, Travis Green joined the Ottawa Senators on May 7, the Toronto Maple Leafs named Craig Berube to the position May 17, Sheldon Keefe was hired by the New Jersey Devils on May 23 and Scott Arniel became coach of the Winnipeg Jets the next day.

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