Seattle Kraken

Seattle Kraken name Dan Bylsma second head coach in franchise history

SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken named Dan Bylsma their coach on Tuesday, putting the 2009 Stanley Cup winner with Pittsburgh back in charge of an NHL team for the first time since 2017.

Bylsma has spent the past two seasons as the head coach of the Coachella Valley Firebirds in the American Hockey League, the top affiliate of the Kraken, and has them back in the Calder Cup semifinals. He has worked extensively with several top prospects who the franchise hopes will be making their way to Seattle in the coming seasons.

“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,” Seattle general manager Ron Francis said.

Bylsma replaces Dave Hakstol, who was fired following his third season in charge after the Kraken took a significant step backward and struggled badly at the offensive end of the ice. Seattle made the playoffs in its second year and earned Hakstol a two-year contract extension, but he was let go before that extension ever kicked in.

Before his stint with Coachella Valley, Bylsma spent parts of eight seasons as a head coach at the NHL level with Pittsburgh and Buffalo. He took over in Pittsburgh midway through the 2008-09 season and helped guide the Penguins to the Stanley Cup. Pittsburgh made the playoffs in the five seasons under Bylsma after winning the title but advanced to the conference final only once in those five trips.

After being fired by Pittsburgh, Bylsma spent two seasons as the head coach in Buffalo before being fired following the 2016-17 season. The Sabres finished seventh and eighth in the Atlantic Division in his two seasons.

Seattle finished last season 34-35-13 and tied for fifth place in the Pacific Division with 81 points. While they were solid defensively and received strong goaltending for most of the season with the combo of Joey Daccord and Philipp Grubauer, the Kraken struggled badly at the offensive end. Seattle was 29th in the league in goals scored, 29th in shooting percentage and 18th on the power play.

Increasing scoring will be one of Bylsma’s main tasks in Seattle. The two teams he led at Coachella Valley had no problem scoring goals on its way to significant success. The Firebirds made the Calder Cup finals in their first season before losing to Hershey in Game 7.

This season, Coachella Valley won the Pacific Division of the AHL and was one of two teams in the league to top 100 points. The Firebirds have advanced to the Western Conference finals, which are scheduled to begin Wednesday.

In both seasons, the Firebirds finished in the top three in the AHL in goals scored during the regular season. Bylsma also worked with the likes of Daccord, Shane Wright, Ryker Evans and Tye Kartye, all of whom seem likely to be key parts of the future for the Kraken.

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