Firebirds Assistant Bickel May Replace Bylsma or Join Him in Seattle

Vince Carbonneau
June 20, 2024  (4:12 PM)

Stu Bickel in action
Photo credit: USA Hockey

Bickel Could Replace Bylsma as Firebirds Head Coach

As the Coachella Valley Firebirds edge closer to an AHL Calder Cup title, the Seattle Kraken's coaching vacancies are on the brink of being filled.
New Kraken head coach Dan Bylsma faces the decision of whether to bring his assistants, Jessica Campbell and Stu Bickel, with him to Seattle. The assistant who stays behind could potentially become Bylsma's successor as the Firebirds' head coach.
Stu Bickel, currently an assistant coach for the Firebirds, might be a natural choice to replace Jay Leach, who joined Jim Montgomery's staff with the Boston Bruins. Bickel, like Leach, is a defensive specialist.
"He's done a great job of working with and developing our defense," Bylsma said of Bickel's impact on the Coachella Valley blueliners. "You see it, not just in the young guys but in the veterans as well. He's a big part of how our defense plays and in developing players like Ryker Evans."
In his Game 3 postgame press conference on Tuesday, Bylsma paused to emphasize, "He cares deeply about the penalty kill. He wears it on his sleeve when the penalty kill doesn't do well. The PK has come up big for us, and it's all due to Stu Bickel and his tutelage."
Bickel, a former defenseman with 76 NHL games and 310 AHL games under his belt, spoke about his coaching ambitions on the Forever Blueshirts podcast. "For me personally, it's been awesome to be able to learn from Dan. We get along really well," Bickel said. "Any assistant coach in the American League hopes to eventually become a head coach or move up to the NHL. It's crucial to have a head coach you can look up to, have conversations with, and bounce ideas off of."
"Dan has done a tremendous job with our group, helping our young players develop. Winning is part of that development, and we've been able to do a bit of everything."
In a couple of games, that "everything" might include an AHL championship.
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Firebirds Assistant Bickel May Replace Bylsma or Join Him in Seattle

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