View Full Version : Dan Bylsma Press Conference Transcript

02-17-2009, 04:34 PM
Dan Bylsma Press Conference Transcript
How will the coaching staff operate going forward and who will be doing what?

Mike Yeo, weíll start with Mike Yeo. I know Mike Yeo from my playing days. I know Mike Yeo from the previous two years, coming to training camp. Iíve spent a lot of time talking with Mike about the team. Mikeís the guy that I mostly called this year in dealing with players and our situation and how things were going here. Iím real comfortable with Mike. Heís a hard-working guy, a passionate guy. He fits right along the lines with me and how I am. So Iím real comfortable with that situation. Heíll continue to do that power play. He will be moved to the defenseman, as you saw (Monday).

Tom Fitzgerald will be joining us. Tom and I will be taking care of the penalty kill together. Tom will do a lot of that drawing on his strengths as a player and his experience. Tom will be a guy on the bench whoís helping with the forwards and matchups with other teams and what teams may be trying to do against us. Right now especially, Tomís main role and big role and what he can do real well right now is reaching out to the players and establishing a relationship with the players and get us pointed in the right direction. That plays into Tomís strengths. Iíve worked a lot with Tom in the last couple of years. Heís been our player development guy. Heís been in Wilkes-Barre and our rookie camps and conditioning camps. Iíve spent a lot of time with Tom and we talked about our team in Wilkes-Barre, players in the organization and our philosophies. We used him on the bench a little bit when he came down to Wilkes-Barre this past year. I feel comfortable with Tom. I love his passion, energy and experience in the game, his knowledge of the game. I think thatís going to fit in as well. Heís certainly in his first time in a coaching atmosphere but his passion, energy and ability to have personal relationships, people skills is an addition to the staff thatís going to be welcomed.

Players were surprised by how well you ran the bench in the game. How has that developed? And how much of that goes back to your playing days and how much goes back to your days as an assistant?

I donít know if I can honestly say in my playing days, if I can draw upon that. I know when youíre a player, youíre certainly on the bench. You probably just want yourself to go out more. You may feel that that was a good call or that guy should be playing more. Some coaches did the bench well and some coaches everyone played the same amount of minutes every game. You talk about that as a player. I certainly have experience from my playing days.

I think at one point last night if I had not had the 50 games or so down in Wilkes-Barre running the bench then last night would have been a little overwhelming. Having had the experience I feel I accomplished what I wanted to do. I got the situations and people out that I wanted to get out. I got different combinations at times. I felt pretty comfortable doing it. I donít think there was one situation where I thought I wasnít ready to put that guy on the ice. I felt comfortable and confident and Iím very thankful that I had 50 games down in Wilkes-Barre to have experience to draw on. That was a big help last night for sure.

How do you keep the players having fun in the daily practices and daily grind?

I donít know if ďfunĒ is the appropriate use in the English language. Itís what weíre using right now. Itís what Ray (Shero) has said. Itís what I have said. I donít do too many things in life that I donít enjoy doing. I try to steer away from the things that I donít enjoy doing. I enjoy hockey. Iím passionate about hockey. I think itís a great thing to be able to come to the rink and challenge yourself to get better, to get the most of the situation, to get the most of the players, to get the most out of the team. I felt the same way as a player, passionate. Itís not always easy. Itís not without challenge. Thatís what gives life energy and passion. Itís a unique opportunity. Itís a unique situation. Itís 24 games left and four points out of the playoffs. Thatís a challenge. Thatís something that I am extremely excited about and energetic about. When you bring that passion and energy to the rink and enjoy the challenge of getting better then that will rub off and be part of the atmosphere that I hope to create.

What is the difference in what system youíll implement than has been here the last few years?

We spent time each year with Michel Therrien before the season on systems and on what Pittsburgh was going to do. He was adamant and we were adamant that we would do in Wilkes-Barre what they did here in Pittsburgh. We had a similar system. The additions that we did make, we had dual systems in Wilkes-Barre. We had the Pittsburgh system and then we had a couple of adjustments that we could go to in Wilkes-Barre that we termed ďWilkes-Barre things.Ē I think really the main things that were different was that our words and our tone was more aggressive: more aggressive offensively, more aggressive defensively. I think the tone that Iíve seen in the media is that itís more of an offensive aggressive, on your toes and I think thereís an underlying that weíre going to take more chances. Thatís not necessarily the case. Last year in Wilkes-Barre, we were second in the league in goals against. We didnít set out to be that way but when you play aggressively and youíre attacking, when you pursue the puck and play defensively as quickly as you can, you tend to get to the offensive zone more and you get there with speed, you get there with numbers and you make other teamís defensemen turn and you get to play in the offensive zone more. If you can do that then youíll be a good defensive team. When you do that, you make teams deal with your skill and speed. You make them play defense more. You make them take more penalties. The mistakes they make, which every team makes, they make near their goalie. When they make them near their goalie it turns into opportunities for your skilled players. Thatís the way we want to play. That does not mean there wonít be any attention to defense or playing defense. To the contrary, weíll be aggressive offensively and weíll be aggressive defensively.

Can you play the game faster even if you donít have faster players?

Without a question. I think the puck moves faster than anybody can skate. When you play with the puck and you execute north-south and you execute with puck support, you become a fast team. When you make other teams turn and go back for pucks, they start to become slower. Now youíre using your assets Ė which is speed, puck support and execution Ė and youíre forcing them to go back and turn for pucks. Every defenseman that has to turn and go back for pucks becomes not as affective.

Have the Penguins been turning around a lot lately?

To me the game is won by playing in the offensive end. If you canít get out of the defensive end and you allow teams to play in the defensive end, no matter how good you are defensively, no matter how good your players are, if you play more time in the defensive end in the game Ė it doesnít matter what the skill is on their team, it doesnít matter what the skill is on your team Ė youíre going to lose a majority of those games. Youíre going to be on the penalty kill more often. Theyíre going to have more zone time. There are going to be more pucks in the crease. Thereís going to be more bounces that go against you. The balance is in the other teamís favor. If you can add skill and speed to that equation and you can get to the offensive zone, now you can tip the scales in your favor. Thatís the way the game needs to be played.

Different players do it differently. Sid Crosby does it differently than Matt Cooke. Miro Satan is going to do it differently with Max Talbot. The message and how we play is going to be the same. Weíre going to play with speed. Weíre going to play north-south and execute. We want to have the puck and we want to get to the offensive zone with it. When we give it up, weíre giving it up because we know that weíre going to get it back with speed and the forecheck and physical play.

Why is it important to have an assistant such as Fitzgerald reach out and establish a relationship with the players?

At every level of professional hockey, every level of life, but especially at the NHL level, youíre dealing with professionals. Youíre dealing with grown men. They need to be respected and they need to feel that respected. You need to have that relationship. At the same time, you still have expectations and you hold them to those expectations and accountability just like you would in any business, any job. Tom Fitzgerald was a captain in this league. Heís a veteran in this league. Heís played over 1,000 games. He established those relationships before. Heís looked guys in the eye and challenged them and held them accountable. Heís done it in a way that at the end of the day they respect. Thatís what Tom Fitzgerald came bring right now for the Penguins.

Will you use Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the penalty kill?

Youíre asking me questions that at 3 oíclock on Sunday, I started entertaining those thoughts that youíre entertaining to me. Penalty killers have to be aggressive. Penalty killers have to dictate where the play is made. They have to be ready to battle and get it out. Guys that are ready to do that will earn ice time in that regard. Their skills, the way they read the game, their speed all indicate that they could be guys that could play on the penalty kill.

How was getting the call to be coach related to when you were a player and got called up?

Itís really similar in a lot of ways. The butterflies from the initial phone call, you realize this is being called up so to speak. It was a flood of emotions for sure. Ideas start to bang off the side of your head. I think this one was a little bit different in terms of the confidence level that I bring to this call up than I did to the first one. When I walked into a room with Wayne Gretzky, I was pretty confident at that point and time that I wasnít as good as he was and I didnít know if I could play in the National Hockey League. When I walked into the room yesterday for the pregame meeting, there was a sense of confidence that I could look these guys in the eyes. I was confident in what I was going to say and how I was going to say it and the message I was saying, and confident that I could to the job.

Did you get a sense that the players were looking for a new voice?

I donít really have any interest in comparing what was going on four days ago and whatís going on now. One of the things I was looking for is the response of the players in terms of their body language and their eyes and their attentiveness when I speaking in the meeting with the message. I was very happy with their eyes. I was vey happy with their heads, a lot of nods in the right direction. I was very happy with the message I said. I said it how I wanted to say it. I had a good feeling about what was going on in that room. From my aspect, one more point would have made the day a lot better but I was pleased with how I said my message and how they received it.

Are you a ďplayersí coachĒ?

I think the word ďplayersí coach,Ē the initial response is that itís an easier time than a firm and demanding coach. I donít think that applies to me. There will be expectations and there will be demands. I think every player needs to work on getting better in their foundation continually. Thatís a continuing process. Thatís something I want to the players to be involved in. I want our team to be involved in that. Thatís something that Iím passionate about. There will be a respect factor. There will be a demand factor. There will expectations that weíre going to have passion, be energetic and this is going to be an enjoyable ride. To be in a competitive environment, to lay it on the line, to get better at what you do and to do it with a chance to compete at the highest level. Itís a chance to be a great team in the National Hockey League. I think thatís something theyíre going to be passionate about as well. Will the term ďplayersí coachĒ come about? I think the chances are better yes than no but thatís not the intent coming out. The intent is to provide an environment and atmosphere where our players can get better, where our team can get better and we have a chance to become the team that we can become.

Do you have a chance to drop the hammer, so to speak?

I guess I was surprised this year when I was coaching in the American Hockey League, I got a few bits of information back from agents and other people that I was demanding and hard. I didnít necessarily think that I was that demanding and that hard. They preface it in a good sort of way. I think there are expectations. Tyler Kennedy can be a real good player. Itís his job to get there. Itís my job to help him. Itís my job to show him how to do that. Itís my job to point him in the right direction when heís playing well and when heís not playing well. That goes for everybody. I think itís the job of a coach to know when you need a push, know when you need a kick and know when you need a pat on the back. Thatís the process that Iím going to try to establish through the players and try to establish through the team.

Any guys stick out in your career that told you stuff that you didnít want to hear but did it in a manner that you respected?

I think there are definitely coaches I can draw upon in that regard. Andy Murray, on more than one occasion I left a meeting and didnít know if he kicked me in the backside or patted me on the back. Itís one of those, ďI think he just told me I played good five games ago but I think he just said I better play good tonight.Ē There was a push and a shove but also a ďthis is how you do it.Ē I left those meetings with a bit of respect knowing that he pushed me and prodded me but also gave me a chance to go out and do it. That is something that as a player at that point and time I said when Iím a coach, thatís how I want to be. As of right now I think thatís how I am, and I will be going forward.

How do you instill a sense of urgency into the team?

Thatís a great question, itís a difficult answer. I said to the players yesterday when I met them for the first time, ďWe donít have the benefit of a training camp and 82 games. We donít have a building of trust and relationship that we would go through for the first 20 games and training camp and build and build as a team,Ē which I think is a key part of building an atmosphere and a team and growing together. We donít have that. Itís got to happen now. We talked about passion and energy, and Ray talked about passion and energy, and that needs to show up in how we come to the rink. Thatís a challenge. Itís a great challenge. Iím real interest in life in having challenges that are this exciting and this promising. Itís a great opportunity, a great team, great players in there. Itís well within our abilities, well within our reach to turn this around right now. To me thatís exciting. Itís something that I can get energized about. Itís something that makes me look forward to coming to the rink tomorrow.

Is it harder to send a message to Crosby or Malkin than with the rest of the team?

I think itís the challenge of coaching. I think thatís why there are good coaches and bad coaches and OK coaches. Thatís the key of dealing with players and personalities, different people in different positions and different roles on the team. I believe that 10 years from now Iíll be a better coach than I am today. I also believe that the experiences that Iíve had in the past Iíll draw upon. Iíve played with good players. Iíve played with Paul Kariya, Luc Robitaille, Rob Blake. I canít really say I played with Wayne Gretzky. It was a few games, I canít really say that. But there were situations were Iíve talked to Paul Kariya and saw other players talk to each other and coaches talk to players. Iím going to draw upon all that. I can expect Crosby to get better as a player. I can expect him to be a part of what weíre doing here. I think he does expect that from himself as well. So we have the same expectations and itís our job together to keep going forward and make this team as best as we can as quick as we can.

What kind of relationship do you have with the star players from your time at training camp?

I do feel fortunate that Iíve met pretty much everyone, with the exception of one or two guys. Iíve had conversations and had been on the ice. Michel, fortunately, allowed me to be on the bench on two different occasions at training camp. He was generous in allowing the coaches in Wilkes-Barre participate in training camp, do drills and run practices. Iíve had some experience which Iím thankful for. Iíve had practice with these guys and Iíve done practice with these guys and I think thatís fortunate for me. I donít have to figure out where Hal Gill played and who he is, what he looks like. Weíve talked. Iíve already coached him a little bit, a tiny bit but that gave me some comfort walking into the room yesterday. When I shook hands and looked the guys in the eye for the first time yesterday, I knew them and they knew me. I think that is going to make this easier going forward.

How do you run your practices?

If we were starting from the beginning of the year, my practices would be a lot like the games. Weíre talking about fast paced, north-south, executing at a high tempo, at a high pace so that you can expect that when we step on the ice, youíll know exactly how weíre going to play. I donít believe you go through the motions or go at half speed or execute at half mast and then expect to draw upon that in the game. Youíre going to draw upon it but itís what youíre going to get. Thatís how I view practices. Implementation of systems are done in practice and through your drills, not necessarily on the board. Your drills are designed so that when the players are going through them throughout the year, theyíll know going into the game that this is what weíre going to do systematically. Warm-up drills and different things are how we make adjustments on a game-to-game basis. You build habits about how youíre going to play with the drills that you do. So thatís how I approach practice. I know having watched Michel Therrien at practice, I learned something from the way they ran practices. Itís not against anything thatís happened here in the past but thatís how I view practice. Tomorrow when we warm up and tomorrow when we get going in practice, those wonít just be flow drills or shooting drills. They will be drills that have a definite purpose on what weíre trying to do going forward as a game plan and how we want to play as a team.

02-17-2009, 04:41 PM
He said a lot of things I agreed with. This quote really stuck out to me:

There will be expectations and there will be demands. I think every player needs to work on getting better in their foundation continually. That’s a continuing process. That’s something I want to the players to be involved in. I want our team to be involved in that. That’s something that I’m passionate about. There will be a respect factor. There will be a demand factor. There will expectations that we’re going to have passion, be energetic and this is going to be an enjoyable ride. To be in a competitive environment, to lay it on the line, to get better at what you do and to do it with a chance to compete at the highest level

02-17-2009, 05:06 PM
How will the coaching staff operate going forward and who will be doing what?

Mike Yeo, weíll start with Mike Yeo... He fits right along the lines with me and how I am. So Iím real comfortable with that situation. Heíll continue to do that power play. He will be moved to the defenseman, as you saw (Monday). If things continue to stink on the powerplay, during practice I'll personally staple his eyes shut, strip him bare, and tie each of his arms and legs to the corners of an empty goal cage, and let the power play rain a howitzer of hellfire down upon him, including myself. Then we'll untie him and let him lay bare-assed on the ice until he hallucinates a solution to the power play issues.

Tough, tough talk. I hope he backs it up...

Misquotation can be fun.