Should Dan Bylsma be the next Seattle Kraken head coach?

Stanley Cup winner Dan Bylsma has been head coach of the Seattle Kraken's AHL team for the past two seasons with great success.
Coachella Valley head coach Dan Bylsma talks to media after their opening night game at Acrisure
Coachella Valley head coach Dan Bylsma talks to media after their opening night game at Acrisure / Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY

There’s a lot of coaching vacancies up for grabs in the NHL this season. The Buffalo Sabres broke the seal by hiring former head coach, franchise legend, and Jack Adams winner Lindy Ruff.

The Ottawa Senators followed by hiring former Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils (technically “interim”) head coach Travis Green.

One of the most interesting teams looking for a coach is the Seattle Kraken. The Kraken have only had one head coach in their three NHL season with Dave Hakstol.

His tenure produced bipolar results, with two losing campaigns sandwiched around a 100-point season that finished with the franchise’s first playoff berth and a Jack Adams nomination.

The Seattle Kraken are one of the NHL teams still looking for a head coach

The exciting name centered with these coaching discussions is current Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “Rod the Bod” is in the final year of his contract and is a pending coaching free agent.

Talks with Carolina on a new contract appeared to have stalled, although both sides remain optimistic. Brind’Amour is close with Kraken general manager Ron Francis.

That only fuels the speculation and it’s reported that Francis is prepared to offer a large contract to Brind’Amour if given the chance.

Perhaps the second best choice for Seattle is Dan Bylsma. Bylsma has been at the helm of the Kraken’s AHL team the Coachella Valley Firebirds since their inception with playoff berths in their first two seasons and a trip to the Calder Cup final last season.

Bylsma has been mostly forgotten after a disappointing tenure with the Buffalo Sabres following his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then Sabres golden boy Jack Eichel infamously didn’t give him a vote of confidence in his two seasons as Buffalo’s bench boss.

Hakstol always seemed like an out-of-the-box hire for the Kraken. Hiring Bylsma to coach their farm team gave the Kraken an immediate and convenient option should Hakstol be fired. With the Kraken’s impressive showing last season, that possibility never came to fruition.

It worked out for Bylsma as well, who was about to coach the Kraken’s top prospects, including former fourth overall pick Shane Wright, to success. Elliotte Friedman even said the Kraken might look to Bylsma to be their head coach even before Hakstol was “officially” fired.

Now the big league job is available once again. Bylsma has an impressive enough resume to warrant consideration, although he turned down speculation in a press conference during Coachella Valley’s current playoff run.

Even with his cup ring, record with the Penguins, and success with Seattle’s top prospects, Brind’Amour seems to eclipse him.

Bylsma overstayed his welcome in Pittsburgh and was run out of town in Buffalo. Brind’Amour is the “perfect model” for the modern coach, in his coaching prime, whose teams have done nothing but compete and succeed.

Could the Kraken be waiting to hear Brind’Amour’s decision and Bylsma is their backup plan? If Brind’Amour becomes available Seattle seems to be the early favorite for his services.

What if Carolina keeps Brind’Amour with an eleventh-hour deal? Bylsma provides the Kraken with a solid if unspectacular, backup plan.

The Score listed Seattle as the fourth most sought after open coaching job in the NHL out of six current teams. One of the main problems for Seattle is an “unclear” direction, as the team isn’t good enough to compete but isn’t bad enough to tank.

Bylsma was an in-season replacement for the Penguins during the 2008-2009 season and turned them into Stanley Cup champions, so he has experience in changing a team’s direction.

Seattle isn’t Pittsburgh in 2009 though, as “lacks high-end talent” was another problem listed for Seattle by the Score.

Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon recently said general manager Don Wadell and Brind’Amour are still working on a contract, even if it’s taking a backseat during playoff action.

Brind’Amour has too much going for him as a Carolina franchise legend that choosing to leave the Hurricanes won’t be an easy task.

The fact he would be an internal hire is something working in Bylsma’s favor. The St. Louis Blues did the same thing by hiring Drew Bannister to replace Craig Berube during the season. The “interim” tag was formally removed earlier this month.