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Pens' owners, Shero discuss Bylsma's future

| Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 6:27 p.m.

Ray Shero and Mario Lemieux talked all day Tuesday. Ron Burkle was in on the discussions, too.

Shero, the Penguins' general manager, met with majority co-owners Lemieux and Burkle to discuss several items, including the future of coach Dan Bylsma and assistants Tony Granato and Todd Reirden.

The meeting began around 7 a.m. at Consol Energy Center and lasted until late in the evening.

During the meeting, Shero made a strong push for approval on an extension for Bylsma, who is set to enter the final season of his contract.

Shero wanted the coaching situation settled — at least Bylsma's status — so he could start finalizing a long-term contract with center Evgeni Malkin before turning to potential new contracts for winger Pascal Dupuis and defenseman Kris Letang.

Shero also identified parameters of the commitment necessary to keep Malkin — about $10 million annually, all of which would count completely against the salary cap.

Ownership has authorized Shero to keep Malkin at almost any cost.

Shero had a face-to-face meeting with J.P. Barry, Malkin's agent, Monday. Barry described the meeting as productive.

In annual player-exit meetings Sunday, Bylsma received endorsements from Malkin and captain Sidney Crosby.

Shero, Lemieux and Burkle are extensively reviewing the Penguins, who were swept from the Eastern Conference final by Boston. The favored Penguins scored only two goals in the series.

Since leading them to the Stanley Cup in 2009, Bylsma has steered the Penguins to only three playoff series victories and amassed a 20-21 postseason record.

Bylsma is the franchise leader in winning percentage and playoff victories — and a leading candidate to coach Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Bylsma declined to comment Tuesday.

Shero is scheduled to hold his annual season-ending briefing at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Consol Energy Center.

Bylsma's status is not the only topic that Shero, Lemieux and Burkle discussed.

The Penguins face an offseason of change with six players set to become unrestricted free agents and stars such as Malkin and Letang entering the final years of their contracts.

Representatives for several of the Penguins' contract-eligible players have been told by Shero that the Penguins' top priority over the next several weeks is working out the long-term contract for Malkin, a former regular-season and playoff MVP and a two-time scoring champion.

Malkin will hold a no-trade clause on the final year of his deal, which kicks in July 5 — the date for free agency.

The Penguins want to agree in principle with Malkin, then try to prevent Dupuis from testing the open market.

Shero has said he hoped to re-sign Malkin and Letang and to continue to build around them and Crosby.

The Penguins are committed to 18 players at $54.4 million on the salary cap for next season. The cap is set at $64.3 million.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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