Bylsma at 4 years: 'It can be a positive thing to get a message across'
By Rob Rossi
Published: Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Dan Bylsma talked coaching philosophy for the fourth anniversary of his hiring by the Penguins
Q: How does a so-called players coach go about effectively delivering a message?
A: If you're looking to say I snap and break a stick to get people's attention, I don't. We get attention every day with what we're trying to do as a team, and as a coach, that communication level is what's important. Having a piece of video is not a good or a bad thing. It's about getting better. This is what you do, this is what we are — and you get that message across whether it's in a stern voice or showing a video. If I'm sending a message, that's how it would come, but it's not always a negative thing. It can be a positive thing to get a message across.
Q: You are a published author, but what does the concept of narrative mean to you as a hockey coach?
A: If I was going to give a motivational speech, I could talk about what happened to the Pittsburgh Penguins when I came in February 2009. We didn't like the picture of our team, the narrative of that team. We set about changing that. We were something different than that. We could be something different than that. We painted the picture and outlined the story before we did anything else. We didn't change Xs and Os. We talked about having 25 games to write the story. We had one game against the Boston Bruins, and that was the only time we were going to play them the rest of the year, and they were the best in the East, and that was our one game to let them know. We talked about how at the end of 25 games they were going to write a story about us, but we could write that story.
As a coach, you talk about painting a picture of who you are, what you want to be, how you want to play — and you go about smaller parts of that and coach systems to be like that. When our players talk about “our game,” that's the picture; we've all joked about “getting to our game,” but that's a picture we have painted and the story of how we want to play, and we do it. That's who we are. To me, that's the big picture/small parts narrative of coaching that I think, really, is imperative to building your team.
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