OK, so he isn't Mike Babcock, but the Sabres did pretty well for themselves in hiring former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma on Thursday.
At least that's the takeaway from Sports Illustrated's Alan Muir, who brought up some strong points in his reactionary column to back up the argument that Bylsma just might be the perfect fit in Buffalo.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that Buffalo is obviously headed in the right direction after a season in which the primary focus was being, well, bad. The Sabres are expected to take generational talent Jack Eichel out of Boston University with the No. 2 pick in next month's draft, and they previously acquired high-scoring, potential-high-reward winger Evander Kane on the cheap after Kane had a falling-out in Winnipeg.
But beyond that, Bylsma has a few characteristics that seem to line up well with the Sabres' current situation, as Muir points out. For one, he brings a culture of winning after his stint with the Penguins that included two division titles, one Stanley Cup (in 2009) and one Jack Adams Trophy as the league's best coach (in 2011). And while there in Pittsburgh, he gained understanding in how to deal with superstar-caliber players — see Crosby, Sidney — which will come in handy if Eichel is what everyone expects him to be.
And on the ice, Muir says, Bylsma has an offensive inclination that trends toward up-tempo, which will be friendly not only to Eichel and Kane but also to talented center Tyler Ennis and defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Mark Pysyk.
There are negatives, of course — for example, Bylsma was criticized at times in Pittsburgh for prefering a dump-and-chase entry style that didn't seem to correspond with his skilled personnel — but all things considered, with Babcock not an option, it's fair to say that the Sabres couldn't have done much better than Bylsma given his fit and the credibility that comes with his accolades.