The Pittsburgh Penguins' sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins left the club with a great deal of questions, the foremost of which was the future of coach Dan Bylsma. After another disappointing postseason exit, which came, conveniently, just ahead of contract talk time, would he find himself dismissed?
On Wednesday, at Ray Shero's year-end presser, the Penguins' GM answered this question before it had even been asked. The moment he sat down, Shero announced that Bylsma and the club had agreed to a new, two-year extension.
"I believe in Dan Bylsma," Shero said. "I believe in our coaching staff. He reports to me. He's my coach."
And with that, the stampede to hire Bylsma, which would have been wild enough to kill Simba's father, has been cancelled. Vancouver, New York, Dallas, and any clubs waiting in the weeds to pull an Edmonton-style hire-and-fire will have to look elsewhere.
Assistant coaches Tony Granato and Todd Reirden have also been extended. In other words: there are no changes behind the bench for Pittsburgh.
That appears to be what everyone in the organization wanted. Despite rumours that co-owner Mario Lemieux was pushing for Bylsma to see the door, Shero said that both Lemieux and Ron Burkle were "100 percent supportive" of the decision to retain him.
It was all part of what turned out to be a very positive, endorsement-heavy press conference for Shero, who gave a vote of confidence not only to his coaching staff, but to his roster, right down to Marc-Andre Fleury.
Just days after Bylsma endorsed him, Shero did the same, boosting both members of his goaltending tandem and expressing his excitement to have them both back. "I'm not getting rid of Marc-Andre Fleury," he said, although he did allow himself the wiggle room of "provided Marc wants to be part of it here." But, considering his recent playoff performances, a trade demand would likely lead him and the Penguins to discover that his contract, like Roberto Luongo's, is something of an albatross. If Shero's endorsement is legitimate, Fleury will more than likely be a Penguin next year.
"The faith I have in Fleury hasn't waned," Shero said, "Nor has it with Dan [Bylsma]."
Shero even endorsed his acquisition of Jarome Iginla. "I would do it again," he said.
Finally, Shero closed the press conference by going around the room and endorsing nearby fixtures, wall adornments, and members of the assembled media.
Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney
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