The Pittsburgh Penguins have announced that head coach Michel Therrien has been fired and will be replaced on an interim basis by Wilkes/Barre-Scranton Penguins coach Dan Bylsma.

“We believe we need a change in direction and, with 25 games remaining in the regular season, our goal remains to finish strong and qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero said. “Dan Bylsma is one of the bright young coaches in the game and has done an exceptional job as the head coach in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season.”

Bylsma, 38, has led his team to a 35-16-3 record in his first year as head coach, good for fourth place in the AHL.

Assistant coach Andre Savard has been re-assigned within the organization, while director of player development Tom Fitzgerald has stepped into an assistant coaching position. Assistant coach Mike Yeo and goaltending coach Giles Meloche have retained their positions on the coaching staff.

Todd Reirden, Bylsma’s assistant in Wilkes/Barre-Scranton “will continue to be a significant part of the coaching staff” until the team determines a plan of action.

Therrien’s firing comes less than 24 hours after the team’s embarrassing loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs last night. He has not been re-assigned within the organization.

Clearly, such a move is an indication that owner Mario Lemieux will not accept the team missing the playoffs.

The next few days will be crucial in determining if the move was enough to spark the players or if player moves are necessary.

Bylsma will have his first test tomorrow as the Penguins visit New York to play the Islanders, a team which he had assistant coaching duties in 2005-06.

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