Generally speaking, the primary role of a farm team is to develop major league players.
While they have sent their fair share of players to the NHL, the Wilkes-Barres/Scranton Penguins have developed a unique distinction for springboarding coaches to the NHL.
Five of the NHL's 30 head coaching positions (16.7 percent) are currently held by former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coaches or assistant coaches.
Four of the five - Buffalo's Dan Bylsma, New Jersey's John Hynes, Montreal's Michel Therrien and Mike Sullivan of the Penguins - served as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's head coach. Minnesota's Mike Yeo was an assistant under Therrien in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Those totals don't include former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach Todd Richards who was fired by the Blue Jackets earlier this season. Additionally, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coaches Joe Mullen and Todd Reirden are currently assistant coaches with the Flyers and Capitals respectively.
So why has Luzerne County become the cradle of NHL coaches? Throughout the season, the five current NHL coaches who came through Wilkes-Barre/Scranton answered that question.
Dan Bylsma, Sabres - “I'd say it was the water but the water running through the old [pipes] probably didn't help us. I think it says there's a development and growth in the Penguins organization over the last 20 years has been from top to bottom. That's the way it's been for the players, that's the way it's been for the management, that's the way it's been for the coaches. That's what I think it says about the number of coaches and the people that have coached in Wilkes-Barre. You see [Michel] Therrien and Mike Yeo and myself and Todd Richards and Todd Reirden and John Hynes now and [Devils assistant coach] Alain Nasreddine, it's a pretty significant coaching tree that's come through this organization through Wilkes-Barre."
John Hynes, Devils - “You'd think [it's not a coincidence]. I think if you look at the environment the organization has created in Wilkes-Barre I think has been instrumental in that. [Chief executive officer] Jeff Barrett and [Penguins associate general manager] Jason Botterill [have] had a huge impact in Wilkes-Barre and the care they put into it. It's a combination of the environment they've created [and] the players they get. Anytime coaches can move on or coaches have success, they have to have good players to be able to do that. So I think that's a big part of it. It seems like there's been some good guys and some good coaches that have gone through there over the years."
Mike Sullivan, Penguins - “I think that track record [of coaches reaching the NHL] is well documented. I think Wilkes-Barre is a great opportunity for, not just coaches, but players, video coaches, anybody involved. It's a great place to work. I can't say enough about my experience there. Jeff Barrett and and [chief financial officer] Greg Petoruk do a terrific job as far as managing that team and how that team operates. I can't say enough about that experience. I think from a career standpoint, as an individual, it's a nice place to work. They've facilitated careers in a lot of different aspects of the business."
Michel Therrien, Canadiens - “That's pretty unique. A lot of credit first of all to the Penguins organization about [surrounding] coaches in Wilkes-Barre [with] a good pro program. In Wilkes-Barre, they have such great people to work with. People like Jeff Barrett and all the staff. I don't think it's a coincidence you've got five guys [who] spent some time there and ended coaching in the NHL. I don't think it's a coincidence. It's a great place not only for players but for coaches to try to get to the NHL.”
Mike Yeo, Wild - “It's a great environment. First off, the organization provided us with great players and gave us a chance to win a lot of hockey games. The people in Wilkes-Barre from Jeff Barrett to everybody else that's with the team, they give you every opportunity, every resource as a coach to succeed. It's been a successful place. I think that certainly [Michel] Therrien going in there was a huge part of that. I know for myself, he was a huge part of my development. Just helped to create a culture, a winning culture there. Obviously, [former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach] Glenn Patrick did that. But it's a team that's won and when teams win, people are going to win.”
(Photos: Associated Press and Getty Images)