Dan Bylsma is headed back to an NHL bench, agreeing to become the next coach of the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, per the team's Twitter account:  

Bylsma, 44, has been seen as an option to join Buffalo since the team lost out on Mike Babcock, who spurned the Sabres for Toronto. The former United States Olympic coach spent the 2014-15 season out of hockey while on the Pittsburgh Penguins' payroll.

Darren Dreger of TSN reported the Sabres will send a 2016 third-round pick to Pittsburgh for Bylsma's rights.

Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan welcomed Bylsma to the community, via the Bills on Twitter:

Bylsma previously spent parts of six seasons on the Penguins bench, winning the 2009 Stanley Cup and making the playoffs each year. He was fired following the 2013-14 campaign due to the perceived playoff failures of a high-cost, star-laden roster. Pittsburgh was eliminated in the first round in Mike Johnston's inaugural season.   

The Sabres went 23-51-8 last season under recently fired head coach Ted Nolan, their fourth straight campaign out of the playoffs. They are in the midst of a wide-scale rebuilding effort, which has seen the club dump a number of high-cost veterans in hopes of developing young talent. Wingers Evander Kane and Tyler Ennis and defenseman Zach Bogosian are on board as foundational pieces, but Bylsma inherits a job far more complicated than the one he took over in Pittsburgh.

There is no Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin this time around. The Sabres' best hope will come in June, where American center Jack Eichel looks like a strong fit with the No. 2 overall selection. Bylsma and Eichel already have a relationship from their 2015 IIHF World Championship experience.

At the very least, Bylsma is an accomplished name who will drive interest into the scuffling Sabres franchise. Given the level of coverage their failed effort to land Babcock received, Bylsma is arguably the best possible face-saving outcome.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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The Buffalo Sabres and general manager Tim Murray have begun the team's first head coaching search since Lindy Ruff was hired before the 1997-98 season. 

The circumstances surrounding this search are a bit different than the one that occurred in the summer of 1997. 

The biggest difference is where the team stands.

Ruff inherited a team that had won the Northeast Division the prior season and lost in the second round to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia Flyers. Ted Nolan also won the Jack Adams Trophy, honoring the league's best head coach, in 1996-97.

A spat with the front office, however, led to Nolan not being offered another contract and the Sabres landing Ruff.

This time, the Sabres are fresh off of their second-straight 30th-place finish. Nolan was officially fired this time around and Murray is conducting his first-ever NHL head coaching search. The new head coach isn't necessarily walking into a playoff-ready roster like Ruff did, but there's a ton of promise.

Who will that promise lure behind the bench?

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