After firing Peter Laviolette last night, the Nashville Predators have worked quickly to secure their next head coach. The team has hired John Hynes as the third head coach in franchise history. Hynes of course was also fired earlier this season by the New Jersey Devils. GM David Poile released a short statement on the hire:
John Hynes is bright young coach and great leader who has a track record of both effectively developing young players and successfully motivating veterans. We love his coaching resume and are confident that he has learned from every stop during his career, and has the best skill set to get the maximum potential out of our team.
Hynes was hired by the Devils in 2015 after a successful run as head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL, and actually led the team to an immediate improvement. New Jersey posted a winning season at 38-36-8, though still weren’t good enough to qualify for the playoffs. That would come in 2017-18 when Hynes took them from near the bottom of the standings to a 97-point finish on the back of Taylor Hall’s Hart Trophy performance, and everything looked to be on track for the Devils to continue a strong rebuild.
Unfortunately, that rebuild took a huge step backwards last season and even after bringing in high profile players was a disaster again this year. The Devils were 9-13-4 when they fired Hynes, meaning his overall record at the NHL level sits at 150-159-45.
Even with that mediocre record, Hynes’ hiring in Nashville comes as little surprise. Many around the hockey world immediately thought of him when Laviolette was let go, in part because of the connection to Poile. The two have worked together in the USA Hockey system and Ray Shero, who hired Hynes when he was with Pittsburgh and then again with New Jersey, is a former protege of Poile from his time in Nashville.
That familiarity will come in handy as Hynes and Poile try to right the ship in Nashville. The team has a ton of talent all over the roster, but currently sit sixth in the Central Division with a 19-15-7 record. While that is certainly not out of the race, a much more dominant season was expected by the Predators after signing Matt Duchene in the offseason to a huge free agent contract.
The start of the Hynes era in Nashville starts tonight when they take on the Boston Bruins.