New Seattle Kraken coach Dan Bilsma hasn’t been behind the bench as head coach in a while. The 2009 Stanley Cup champion with Pittsburgh Penguin has not been a head coach since he was fired after the 2016-17 season with the Buffalo Sabers. He followed that up as assistant coach on Jeff Blashel’s crew with the Detroit Red Wings until the end of the 2020-2021 season.
Bilsma is head coach again but in the second best hockey league in North America. On Tuesday, Bilsma was announced as the inaugural coach for the Coachella Valley Fire Birds expansion. Fire Birds will be the best farm team in the Seattle Kraken.
Bylsma has one of the best resumes among coaches looking for a job, although after his last two lackluster spells in the NHL, he hasn’t likely been getting much attention from the league. His failure to bring Buffalo any kind of success after the franchise drafted Mr. Everything and then dropped his stock. Not to mention Jack Eichel wasn’t a fan of it. Until his 2009 hit he mostly used Michel Terrain’s slate after the mid-season shooting.
For the first time in a while, Dan Bielsma is a head coach but at the AHL level. The rent makes sense for him and the Seattle Kraken.
Even if it’s “AHL only,” this is a good service for Bylsma. It’s a hockey job, which I haven’t played in over a year, in a very attractive area. No offense to Buffalo or Detroit, but Southern California is a much nicer place. Bylsma lives life in the posh California desert knowing the first job is Seattle is just an organizational move.
Seattle was worse than they hoped it would be last season. In the midst of a draft deadline fire sale, you can sense that General Manager Ron Francis might be feeling some pressure and becoming impatient. Could current coach Dave Haxtoll be in short position? If it was, then Belsma would certainly be a potential alternative.
Seattle should have no qualms about the problems that plagued Bilsma in his old jobs. Eichel was Buffalo’s main priority, so the team’s front office did anything to accommodate its then-star player. There is no player in Seattle of this caliber yet, although Matty Berniers may get there eventually. Bylsma was abandoned from Pittsburgh after several early exits in the playoff. Seattle should worry about getting close to the playoffs before they worry about an early exit from the post-season.
This is an exciting new opportunity for Dan Bilsma. Despite all his baggage, anyone who has had success with young Sidney Crosby has a lot to offer young players. This job may be just a formality as a test to take on the big club in Seattle.