PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Penguins' Dan Bylsma expressed his perfunctory regrets last week when two NHL coaches were shown the door.
The Washington Capitals fired Bruce Boudreau right around the same time the Carolina Hurricanes were canning Paul Maurice.
"You never feel good about seeing a coach in that position regardless of who they are and who they're coaching for," Bylsma said.
In other words, Bylsma doesn't care much for Boudreau or the Capitals, but he doesn't like the idea of coaches being removed from their jobs, either
He understands how the game works. His chance came when the Penguins had tuned out Michel Therrien in 2009 and were in danger of missing the playoffs.
Under Bylsma, they went 18-3-4 and won the Stanley Cup.
Little wonder, then, that NHL teams are invariably looking for the next Dan Bylsma.
Boudreau's unemployment lasted all of two days, until the Anaheim Ducks hired him. He got on a plane and has presumably scoped out the finest wing restaurants in southern California.
That's the way the game goes. One of these days, it could catch up to Bylsma, and he knows it.
He's been smart, imposing his will without being overbearing. The best coaches find a way to give the players all of the credit and little of the blame. They build a foundation and stay out of the way.
For all of Scotty Bowman's unmatched hockey genius, he lacked people skills and wore out his welcome at several stops, including Pittsburgh.
The Penguins seem to have an uncommon maturity, perhaps because of the example Sidney Crosby sets.
But every coach, with the possible exception of Buffalo's Lindy Ruff, gets fired sometime.
Maybe Bylsma will be a similar exception, a guy who will last until he leaves on his own terms.
It's not impossible, but the odds are against it in the NHL.
The finalists for the Boston Red Sox managing job were Bobby Valentine and Gene Lamont.
As contrasts go, that's like deciding between chili and oatmeal for lunch.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org