There is never a time in life where you don’t wish you had access to a time machine. But we really want one right now so we can skip ahead to late June and see where Dan Bylsma stands.
Bylsma is starting the most important four months of his coaching career. While everyone wants a time machine, it also wouldn’t hurt to have checkpoints in life like you do in a video game. Bylsma would be saving his game right about now in case the next 3 weeks (and 4 months) don’t pan out like he wants them to.
We may never see a more important four months in a coaching career. Let's take a look.
What Dan Bylsma has to gain
We were watching “Jeopardy!” two weeks ago, and the category was "Name the Sport.”
And, really, that is what Dan Bylsma has to gain with a gold medal in Sochi. Hockey in America is growing whether or not anyone likes to admit or not. A gold medal in Sochi brings national recognition for the sport. 5-year-olds in small U.S. markets will see the American flag raised and will want to buy a pair of skates and a stick tomorrow. Everyone reading this is already in the NHL hockey vortex, but for the extremely casual fans in the States, the name “Dan Bylsma” will be synonymous with patriotism and success. A gold medal essentially gives Bylsma coaching immunity in any league he coaches in. It cements his spot in Pittsburgh for a long time, possibly for as long as he wants.
But don't stop there. What happens if Bylsma wins a gold medal and then guides the Pens to the Stanley Cup? He will be untouchable. Untouchable. People who speak out against him will be executed in Market Square during lunch hour, and rightfully so. No coach has ever won the gold and the Cup in the same year.
The Triple Gold Club
Apparently, if you win the Gold Medal, World Championship, and Stanely Cup, you join this club -- WIKI
There is only one coach in the club: Detroit’s Mike Babcock.
What Dan Bylsma has to lose
If Bylsma can't at least replicate the success Ron Wilson had in Vancouver with the U.S. getting the silver medal, it will be bad news.
This isn’t the NHL stage; this is the world stage. A bad showing from Team USA will look horrible for Bylsma. The most cringe-worthy thing to think about is Team USA being stunned in an upset before they can even reach the Gold Medal game. To be exposed on this stage would open some eyes. You can scoff at this, but if the United States falters in Sochi, there will be some questions about the "Bylsma way” of doing things.
If the Olympics don't pan out and then Bylsma comes home and doesn't guide the Pens to the Cup...and with another disappointing playoff loss...
What about a split?
Bylsma saves face with one or the other. A gold medal isn't a Stanley Cup, but in the hockey world it’s nothing to scoff at. A Stanley Cup would be his second as the coach of the Penguins, and judging by how the organization has been run in recent years, he would have job security for years to come.