The Nashville Predators announced the hiring of head coach John Hynes Tuesday and with it came a glimpse of where the team is headed.
Former head coach Peter Laviolette was shelved Monday and general manager David Poile announced Hynes as the new hire with a press conference a day later, making the former New Jersey Devils bench boss just the third coach in Nashville franchise history.
“For me personally, this has been the hardest year that I’ve ever had because we have been totally unable to meet expectations for ourselves on the ice,” Poile said. “There’s been a lot of criticism of our play. There has been a lot of inconsistencies with our play. So many games that we’ve played this year I felt we were going to win the game, and for whatever happened that win and that point was taken away from us.”
Hynes was fired by the Devils in December after a brutal 9-13-4 start that left New Jersey reeling and in last place in the Metropolitan Division. The 44-year-old was 150-149-5 overall in the Garden State, leading them to the playoffs in 2018. Previously, New Jersey hadn’t seen post-season action since Taylor Hall won the Hart Trophy.
Hynes has an extensive history developing younger players and that’s the draw for the Predators. He brought Nico Hischier to the foreground in New Jersey, for one, and previously spent five seasons as head coach of the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He spent nine seasons on the staff of the USA Hockey National Team Development program, working with the likes of Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel.
“The Nashville job is special,” Hynes said. “I’m very excited to be able to work with this team. It’s very talented, it’s well built. There’s a lot of different dimensions, and it comes from an extremely successful tradition.”
It’s easy to dismiss Hynes’ hiring if you base your opinion on his less-than-successful tenure in New Jersey, but this is as good a second chance as a younger coach can get in this league. He has an opportunity ahead of him and he knows it. He runs up-tempo practices and can get a lot out of a team’s youth, so that’s a good place to start work.
If he can translate that to wins, he’ll have success with the Predators. Maybe not on Tuesday against the Bruins, mind you. But soon-ish.
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