Bylsma returns to coaching, sort of, with WHL Kelowna

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Former Pittsburgh bench boss Dan Bylsma got back in the coaching ranks last week, thanks to reconnecting with an old teammate.

Former NHLer Dan Lambert, now the head coach of Kelowna of the Western Hockey League, brought Bylsma out to British Columbia for a series of practices with the Rockets. Lambert and Bylsma were teammates in both the AHL and IHL in the early- to mid-90’s.

Kelowna’s in the midst of a stellar WHL campaign, sitting atop the Western Conference with a roster featuring the likes of former Oilers center Leon Draisaitl and Caps prospect Madison Bowey.

“It was a pretty nice gesture on Dan’s part to come and spend time with our team,” Lambert said, per the Kelowna Capital News. “He brought a lot of knowledge, details and habits, those sorts of things. Dan showed our players energy and enthusiasm‚Ķhe’s an energetic guy.

“It’s been great for our team to have him here.”

Bylsma, 44, has been working as an analyst for the NHL Network following his dismissal from the Penguins at the end of last season, but said on numerous occasions he wants to get back into coaching. Looking at the current NHL landscape, there are two gigs currently filled on an interim basis — Peter Horachek in Toronto, Todd Nelson in Edmonton — and a variety of bench bosses rumored to be on the hot seat, like Claude Julien in Boston and Craig Berube in Philadelphia.

(And yes, Bylsma coaching the Flyers would be something.)

Almost inevitably, there will be some coaching changes this offseason and it’ll be interesting to see how often Bylsma’s name pops up with regards to vacancies. While his resume is impressive — a career points percentage of .670, and one Stanley Cup — his last year of coaching wasn’t very successful, what with the U.S. flaming out at the Olympics and the Penguins crashing out of the second round of the playoffs.