AHL’s Firebirds tab NHL veteran Bylsma as first head coach for ’22-23 season
The Coachella Valley Firebirds, the 32nd AHL team debuting in fall 2022 and the affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, have announced the hiring of Dan Bylsma as the team’s first head coach in team history.
Bylsma comes from the Charlotte Checkers, home of the defending Calder Cup Champions, where he was named assistant coach by the Seattle Kraken August 2021.
“We’re excited to name Dan Bylsma the first head coach in Coachella Valley Firebirds history,” said Kraken general manager Ron Francis. “The head coach of our American Hockey League affiliate plays a critical role in developing future Kraken players. Dan worked with our prospects this past season in Charlotte and brings a wealth of NHL and AHL experience to our new AHL club. We look forward to Dan guiding our team.”
“I am honored and excited to be joining the Coachella Valley Firebirds as the first coach in team history,” added Bylsma. “This is a unique opportunity to continue collaborating with the Seattle Kraken in building a championship organization from the desert floor up. I look forward to curating the product on the ice to be a proud representation of the people, spirit and passion that define the Coachella Valley.”
“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,” said Steve Fraser, president of Acrisure Arena and the Firebirds. “We believe that Dan best represents the core values of the Seattle Kraken and the Coachella Valley Firebirds as well as the spirit of our community. We anticipate great things coming out of the Coachella Valley as we embark on our debut season under his leadership.”
Bylsma has eight seasons as an NHL head coach under his belt – a six-season run in Pittsburgh from 2008-14 that saw him capture a Stanley Cup in 2009 and a Jack Adams Award in 2011 as the league’s most outstanding coach, followed by a pair of seasons in Buffalo from 2015-17. In June 2013, Bylsma was appointed head coach of the United States Olympic Hockey Team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. A month before coaching at the Winter Olympics, Bylsma became the winningest coach in Penguins history with 233 wins.
Bylsma began his coaching career in the AHL in 2004-05, spending three seasons as an assistant coach for Cincinnati and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and one year with the NHL’s New York Islanders before earning his first head coaching position with the AHL Penguins in 2008-09.
As a player, Bylsma logged 429 NHL games over nine seasons as a winger with Los Angeles and Anaheim. The Michigan native also spent time in the AHL, IHL and ECHL over his career, giving him a total of 840 pro games to his credit.
The puck will drop for the team’s inaugural season at Acrisure Arena, the newest world-class concert and sports venue designed specifically for the Coachella Valley, in December 2022.
(June 22, 2022)