Firebirds First Head Coach

Seattle Kraken General Manager Ron Francis Appoints Former Head Coach of NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres as Firebird’s First Head Coach. Bylsma comes from the Charlotte Checkers, home of the defending Calder Cup Champions where he was named assistant coach by the Seattle Kraken August 2021.

“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.”

Seasoned Coach Status

“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.

Bylsma has eight seasons as an NHL head coach under his belt – a six-season run in Pittsburgh from 2008-2014 that saw him capture a Stanley Cup in 2009 and a Jack Adams Award in 2011 as the league’s most outstanding coach, followed by a pair of seasons in Buffalo from 2015-2017. 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.

Playing and Coaching Schedule

Professional Hockey

• ECHL – Greensboro Monarchs 1yr

• AHL – Moncton Hawks 1yr

• IHL – Phoenix Roadrunners 2 yrs


• L.A. Kings 4 yrs

• Anaheim Might ducks 4 yrs ending in Cincinnati AHL


• AHL Cincinnati – asst. coach 04-05

• NHL NY Islanders – asst coach 05-06

• AHL WBS Penguins – asst coach 06-08

• AHL WBS Penguins – HC 08-09 52 games then called up to NHL Pitt. Penguins for the remainder of 09 season winning Stanley Cup that season – 09 

• NHL HC in Pittsburg for 5 1/2 yrs 08-14

• NHL HC in Buffalo for 2 yrs 15-17 

• NHL asst coach in Detroit for 3 season 18-21

• Last season w/ Charlotte Checkers AHL 

• 3 times asst coach for Team USA WC 2015, 18, 19

• Team USA HC 2014 Olympic team – Sochi, Russia

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.

Firebirds Affiliates

NHL: Seattle Kraken

The Coachella Valley team is affiliated with the NHL’s newest franchise, the Seattle Kraken, for the 2021-22 season. The affiliation is expected to last one season while construction is completed on an arena that will host the Kraken’s AHL expansion franchise in Palm Desert, California. In the meantime, the Checkers will receive the Kraken’s first group of AHL-eligible prospects under a joint affiliation with the Panthers.

About Us

The Coachella Valley Firebirds are the 32nd Franchise to enter the American Hockey League (AHL) with a goal of developing players and personnel for the National Hockey League (NHL).  The Firebirds strive to accomplish this by passionately building an organization from the ground up focusing on talent, entertainment,  service and community.