Dan Bylsma, 38, didn't begin coaching the Pittsburgh Penguins until 31/2 months ago, yet he has them within four victories of the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 17 years.
He could become only the second rookie coach to take over a team during the season and win the Stanley Cup; only Al MacNeil of Montreal in 1971 has accomplished it to date.
Bylsma replaced the fired Michel Therrien in Pittsburgh on Feb. 15.
The coaching change saved the Penguins' season. They were 27-25-5 before Bylsma took over, but went 18-3-4 during a closing stretch that included the best road trip and best homestand in franchise history. Counting the playoffs, the Penguins are 30-8-4 under Bylsma.
Detroit's Mike Babcock coached Bylsma six years ago in Anaheim when the Ducks lost a seven-game finals against the Devils.
Bylsma later served as an assistant to Babcock on the Ducks' Cincinnati farm club during the NHL lockout season.
"Danny's a good guy," said Babcock, who is in the finals for the third time in six years. "He's honest, he's hardworking, a quality guy who brought energy on a regular basis."
The Hershey Bears (Capitals) and Manitoba Moose (Canucks) will open the AHL's Calder Cup finals tonight in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
- Associated Press