The first head coach in the history of the Coachella Valley Firebirds has been announced, and he comes with quite a bit of NHL experience. Dan Bylsma— Stanley Cup and Jack Adams Award winner Dan Bylsma–will take over the new AHL franchise, which will serve as the Seattle Kraken AHL affiliate next season.
Firebirds president Steve Fraser released a short statement:
We are thrilled to welcome Dan Bylsma to the Firebirds family and look forward to his leadership in building a unified roster of players as well as creating a championship product on the ice.
Bylsma had already been working with the Kraken organization as part of their player development staff and as an assistant with the Charlotte Checkers, already working with a number of prospects that will be with the Firebirds next season. The 2009 cup-winning coach has been behind the bench for 565 NHL games, posting an outstanding 320-190-55 record. Unfortunately, those numbers saw a significant downturn at his last stop, where he was put in charge of the struggling Buffalo Sabres and was unable to get them into the playoffs.
Since his time in Buffalo ended, he has been an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings and at the World Championships with Team USA. As far as minor league coaches go, his resume is exquisite, even if his last go-round in the NHL didn’t go so well.
For Coachella Valley, hiring an experienced coach will help them immediately get started as they try to build a new fanbase and support the Kraken’s NHL exploits. Seattle shared Charlotte this season as they didn’t have enough players to fill out their own AHL affiliate but now will be on their own to provide Bylsma with a competitive group.