by Tony on 03/10/11 at 12:40 PM ET
Yesterday’s announcement of a three-year contract extension for Penguins’ head coach Dan Bylsma is certainly well-deserved.
After all, immediately upon his hiring in Feb. 2009 he led the Pens in a furious rally into the Eastern Conference playoffs, coming at a time when there was a legitimate concern that the defending Eastern Conference champions would even make the playoffs. That culminated of course with the Penguins hoisting the Stanley Cup that June.
However he’s arguably done his best coaching this season, with his roster depleted of its star players in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin due to injury. Bylsma not only has the Penguins competing, he now has them playing at an intensity that not many other Eastern Conference teams would like to face as their opponent in the playoffs.
But one thing’s for sure in the two years Bylsma’s been behind the Penguins’ bench: Not just any ‘ol NHL player can flourish in his system.
There are a few prerequisites that should be posted somewhere for prospective players to heed if they want to succeed in HCDB’s system:
- You had better be fairly fast. There are some exceptions, but not very many.
- You had better be willing to hit. No drive-by forechecks.
- You had better be willing to work your tail off.
And if you don’t have all three? Well, your time in HCDB’s system may not be as long as you may think it is.
There have been several examples of very established NHL players that just couldn’t cut the Bylsma mustard:
- Petr Sykora - Veteran sniper, scored one of the bigger playoff goals in Penguins history in triple overtime in Game 5 of the ‘08 Stanley Cup Finals. Seemed to have nice chemistry with Evgeni Malkin. But Petr is not the fastest guy in the world and his size doesn’t help him in the physical aspects of hockey. So he was not retained after the ‘09 Cup-winning season, where he was a healthy scratch for the majority of the playoffs.
- Miro Satan - Another 300 goal scorer (363 to be exact). Scored 17 goals in his one season with the Pens, and had a couple of excellent playoff games. But Satan was not a very good checker. At all.
- Ruslan Fedotenko - Feds was pretty close to a match in HCDB’s system. He could play the physical game at times. Didn’t have much speed, though.
- Alexei Ponikarovsky - Never really fit into the system in his short stay with the Penguins. Didn’t contribute to the offense very much, wasn’t very fast at all and despite his size wasn’t that physical.
So are there current Penguins in the system that may eventually fall prey to Bylsma’s system?
I’m gonna throw one name out there as a remote possibility, and some Penguins fans won’t be happy with me saying it: Eric Tangradi?
Eric is still quite young, he just turned 21, so he has plenty of time to improve. But in the early stages of his Pens career, while he’s definitely a physical player, it’s apparent that he needs to improve his skating. I’m not making any sort of prediction at all, so relax, just an observation.
Bylsma’s system has served him well so far, now with his contract extension, we’ll see how well it fares in the future.
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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