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Bylsma promoted to Pittsburgh as interim head coach

Dan Bylsma has been named interim head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, replacing Michel Therrien, it was announced tonight by Executive Vice President and General Manager Ray Shero.

Bylsma, 38, has been serving as head coach of the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He will coach his first game with the Penguins on Monday at 2 p.m. ET against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

Therrien was relieved of his duties this evening, and assistant coach Andre Savard was reassigned within the organization.

Assistant coach Mike Yeo and goaltending coach Gilles Meloche will remain with the coaching staff. Tom Fitzgerald, the Penguins’ director of player development, will join the staff as an assistant coach.

“We believe we need a change in direction and, with 25 games remaining in the regular season, our goal remains to finish strong and qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Shero said. “Dan Bylsma is one of the bright young coaches in the game and has done an exceptional job as the head coach in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season.

“We also would like to thank Michel Therrien for his significant contributions to the Penguins organization.”

Bylsma played nine NHL seasons as a right winger with Los Angeles and Anaheim from 1995-2004. He played 429 NHL regular season games and also played in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final with Anaheim. He retired as a player following the 2003-04 season.

The native of Grand Haven, Mich. began his coaching career as an assistant with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the AHL in 2004-05. He made his NHL coaching debut as an assistant with the New York Islanders in 2005-06.

Bylsma joined the Penguins organization as an assistant to Todd Richards in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2006-07. In two seasons, the Richards-Bylsma coaching tandem led Wilkes-Barre to a 98-49-5-8 record. The Baby Penguins won the AHL East Division and Eastern Conference championships in 2007-08 and advanced to the Calder Cup Finals.

When Richards accepted a job as an assistant coach with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks in the off-season, Bylsma was elevated to head coach at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

This season under Bylsma, the Baby Penguins are 35-16-1-2. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defeated Worcester today, 5-2, for its eighth straight victory.

In Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, assistant coach Todd Reirden will continue to be a significant part of the coaching staff. The Penguins organization will announce further plans for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton staff on Tuesday.