PITTSBURGH — Dan Bylsma couldn’t avoid speculation about his status as the Penguins coach in the days following Pittsburgh’s four-game pratfall against Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals, even in his own house.
Shortly after the Bruins swept the Stanley Cup favorites out of the playoffs last week, Bylsma’s son Bryan asked his dad if he still had a job.
“I would be lying to say that I was able to block all that stuff out,” Bylsma said.
Now he won’t have to.
The Penguins signed the second-winningest coach in franchise history to a two-year extension through 2016 on Wednesday, a very public vote of confidence after Pittsburgh’s quest for a Stanley Cup to bookend the one it captured in 2009 ended with four miserable losses to the Bruins.
“I have a very good coach moving forward that I want to lead this team,” General Manager Ray Shero said. “I want to reward him with an extension that shows him and shows people that he’s my coach and I believe in him.”
It’s a belief Shero stressed was not shaken despite a fourth straight spring without a Cup for one of the NHL’s most talented teams. Assistants Tony Granato and Todd Reirden will also be retained after the Penguins decided it wasn’t time to change course following a regular season in which the Penguins posted the second-best record in the league.
Shero, who met with owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle earlier this week, was prepared to go to bat for Bylsma, who is 201-92-25 since taking over for Michel Therrien in February 2009. Turns out, Shero didn’t have to step up after Lemieux and Burkle told him they were fully on board with keeping Bylsma in the fold.
“They were 100 percent supportive,” Shero said.
The Penguins are just 3-4 in postseason series since captain Sidney Crosby raised the Cup after beating Detroit in Game Seven of the 2009 finals. Pittsburgh has fallen to a lower-seeded team each time, though the fourth-seeded Bruins hardly qualified as a major underdog.
Boston didn’t play like one, never trailing as the Penguins were swept for the first time in 34 years. Most galling was a 6-1 defeat at home in Game Two that changed the tenor of the series. Pittsburgh regrouped and played well in a double-overtime loss in Game Three and a 1-0 loss in Game Four, pretty clear evidence Bylsma had not lost the dressing room.
Flyers get Streit
PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Flyers acquired defenseman Mark Streit from the New York Islanders for minor-league forward Shane Harper and a fourth-round pick in 2014.
Streit, 35 and the Islanders’ captain, has 65 goals and 288 points in 491 regular-season NHL games, and has a sharp, left-handed shot from the blue line that is much needed as Philadelphia retools its roster.
Streit, though, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent July 5, meaning he can sign anywhere. But the Flyers now own his rights until then, and can negotiate a contract with him exclusively until that time.