Bylsma will be named Kraken’s coach, source says

NHL

The Seattle Kraken have called a press conference for Tuesday which is when they are expected to name Dan Bylsma the second coach in franchise history, a source with knowledge of the decision told ESPN on Monday, confirming a report.

Bylsma has spent the last two seasons serving as the head coach of the Kraken’s AHL affiliate, the Coachella Valley Firebirds. Promoting Bylsma to head coach comes a little more than a month after the franchise fired Dave Hakstol after three seasons.

Hakstol led the Kraken to within a game of the Western Conference finals in a second season that also led him becoming a Jack Adams Award finalist only to be dismissed after the team finished this season 17 points out of the final wild-card spot. The Kraken also fired assistant coach Paul McFarland, who had overseen the team’s forwards and power-play unit.

Now Bylsma will be charged with trying to get the NHL’s 32nd team back into the playoffs for what will be the second time in their four-year history.

Finding Hakstol’s replacement comes in an offseason that saw the Kraken be one of seven teams in need of a new coach. Earlier in the day, the Winnipeg Jets announced they hired Scott Arniel. The Buffalo Sabres (Lindy Ruff), the Ottawa Senators (Travis Green), the Toronto Maple Leafs (Craig Berube) and the New Jersey Devils (Sheldon Keefe) have already made coaching hires which leaves the San Jose Sharks as remaining opening in the NHL.

Bylsma first broke into the NHL as a head coach in 2009 when he was hired by the Pittsburgh Penguins after previous serving as the head coach of their AHL franchise. Bylsma won the Stanley Cup in his first season and would lead the team to six consecutive playoff appearances. The Penguins made it to the conference final once after winning the Cup in Bylsma’s first season and reached the second round before parting ways after the 2013-14 campaign.

He was out of the NHL for one full season before the Buffalo Sabres hired him to be their head coach in 2015-16. At the time, the Sabres had missed the playoffs for four straight seasons and brought Bylsma on board with the belief he could get them back to the postseason. He was fired after two seasons and the club’s postseason-less streak has since been extended to 13 seasons.

Bylsma was a Detroit Red Wings assistant for three seasons before he was hired by the Kraken to serve as an AHL assistant coach in 2021-22, the year the club was sharing an AHL affiliate with the Florida Panthers.

He was then made head coach of the Firebirds prior to the start of the 2022-23 season, with the franchise finding success while he’s been on the bench. The Firebirds reached the Calder Cup final in their first season where they lost to the Hershey Bears while advancing to the Western Conference finals this season where they’ll open a seven-game series Wednesday against the Milwaukee Admirals.

SportsNet first reported news of the Kraken’s decision on Monday.

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