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Coachella Valley Firebirds hire Dan Bylsma as team’s first-ever head coach

Former Stanley Cup champion Dan Bylsma will be the first head coach in the history of the Coachella Valley Firebirds.

Team officials announced Bylsma's hiring on Tuesday.

“We’re excited to name Dan Bylsma the first head coach in Coachella Valley Firebirds history,” said Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis. “The head coach of our American Hockey League affiliate plays a critical role in developing future Kraken players. Dan worked with our prospects this past season in Charlotte and brings a wealth of NHL and AHL experience to our new AHL club. We look forward to Dan guiding our team.”

Check Out Our Firebirds Section for More Coverage

Bylsma has eight seasons as an NHL head coach under his belt, helming the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres. His six-year run with the Penguins saw him win a Stanley Cup (2009) and a Jack Adams Award (2011) recognizing him as the league's most outstanding coach.

In June 2013, Bylsma was appointed head coach of the United States Olympic Hockey Team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. A month before coaching at the Winter Olympics, Bylsma became the winningest coach in Penguins history with 233 wins.

He comes from the Charlotte Checkers, home of the defending Calder Cup Champions where he was named assistant coach by the Seattle Kraken in August 2021.

Bylsma commented, “I am honored and excited to be joining the Coachella Valley Firebirds as the first coach in team history. This is a unique opportunity to continue collaborating with the Seattle Kraken in building a championship organization from the desert floor up. I look forward to curating the product on the ice to be a proud representation of the people, spirit and passion that define the Coachella Valley.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Dan Bylsma to the Firebirds family and look forward to his leadership in building a unified roster of players as well as creating a championship product on the ice," said Steve Fraser, president of Acrisure Arena and the Coachella Valley Firebirds. "We believe that Dan best represents the core values of the Seattle Kraken and the Coachella Valley Firebirds as well as the spirit of our community. We anticipate great things coming out of the Coachella Valley as we embark on our debut season under his leadership.”

Bylsma began his coaching career in the AHL in 2004-05, spending three seasons as an assistant coach for Cincinnati and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and one year with the NHL's New York Islanders before earning his first head coaching position with the AHL Penguins in 2008-09.

As a player, Bylsma logged 429 NHL games over nine seasons as a winger with Los Angeles and Anaheim. The Michigan native also spent time in the AHL, IHL, and ECHL over his career, giving him a total of 840 pro games to his credit.

The puck will drop for the team’s inaugural season at Acrisure Arena, the newest world-class concert and sports venue designed specifically for the Coachella Valley, in December 2022.

While the team waits for its home to be ready, they will likely kick off their inaugural season in Seattle.

Acrisure Arena, the $300 million, 10,000-seat arena is being built next to the Classic Club Golf Course just north of the Cook St. Interstate 10 exit.

Check Out: Inside look at Acrisure Arena’s progress; locker rooms, suite levels, practice rink and more

Officials broke ground on the arena in June 2021. Construction is expected to be complete in late 2022.

Arena officials have previously said the arena will host AHL hockey games, concerts, conventions, UFC, boxing, and WWE events.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage on the Coachella Valley Firebirds and Acrisure Arena.

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Jesus Reyes

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