Predators hire ex-Devils head coach John Hynes to replace fired Peter Laviolette
Nashville out of playoff position with 19-15-7 record in NHL's Western Conference
John Hynes was behind the Nashville Predators bench for Tuesday night's home game against Boston, one month after being fired as head coach of the New Jersey Devils.
The Predators, who are out of playoff position in the NHL's Western Conference, made the announcement a little more than 12 hours following the dismissal of bench boss Peter Laviolette on Monday night along with associate coach Kevin McCarthy after the team had dropped four of five games.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to join an organization with a history of success, a team with immense talent and a phenomenal fanbase," Hynes, the third head coach in the Predators' 21-year history, said in statement. "This organization has a strong foundation, from its ownership and executives to the entire front-office staff, and I'm excited to come in and try to maximize this team's abilities."
Nashville is 11th in the conference with a 19-16-7 record after dropping Hynes' debut 6-2 to the Bruins.
The Predators won 248 regular-season games under Laviolette and reached the playoffs each of his first five seasons.
Nashville lost to Pittsburgh in six games in the 2017 Stanley Cup final, won the Presidents' Trophy and made it to the second round of the playoffs in 2018 and last spring was eliminated in the first round.
Predators general manager David Poile said the team is much better than it has performed this season with some players playing below their potential or the team's expectations.
"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," he 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."
Poile traded away defenceman P.K. Subban, Nashville's highest-paid player, and signed free-agent forward Matt Duchene to a $56 million US, seven-year contract on July 1. But the Predators sputtered through the first half of this season. They hadn't won more than two straight games since a four-game streak in late October.
This marked the sixth NHL coaching change of the season.
'Bright young coach'
New Jersey fired Hynes on Dec. 3 after an embarrassing 7-1 loss to Buffalo dropped its record to 9-13-4.
After dismissing Hynes, Devils general manager Ray Shero said, "John is a respected leader [and] developer of talent."
The 44-year-old compiled a 150-159-45 mark in 354 regular-season games over four-plus seasons and led the Devils to the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in six years.
Poile was not deterred by Hynes' recent struggles, saying the coach is a great leader.
"He has a great track record of both effectively developing younger players and successfully motivating veteran players," Poile said. "We're confident that he's the guy to cultivate a winning culture in our locker room."
2011 AHL coach of year
In New Jersey, Hynes helped 2017 first overall draft pick Nico Hischier become a bright young NHLer and assisted in the development of forward Kyle Palmieri, who established career highs in goals (30) and points (57) during his first season with the Devils in 2015-16.
John Hynes should be a good fit with <a href="https://twitter.com/PredsNHL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PredsNHL</a> as they have the personnel particularly with a highly talented D core to play more of a puck possession game. Special teams need a facelift at 23rd PP & 29th PK which will be a priority. I expect a big uptick here! <a href="https://twitter.com/NHLNetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NHLNetwork</a>—@brianlawton9
I like the fit in the <a href="https://twitter.com/PredsNHL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PredsNHL</a> hiring of John Hynes... Runs high tempo practices that demand pace in the team game. Nash city has the talent to take it to another level, and (I believe) will under Hynes.—@Rupper17
Before joining the NHL coaching ranks, Hynes was head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League from 2010-15. The native of Warwick, R.I., led the Pittsburgh Penguins' affiliate to five consecutive Calder Cup playoff berths, including back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference final in 2012-13 and 2013-14, and earned AHL coach of the year honours in 2011.
"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."
Married with three daughters, Hynes began his coaching career at his alma mater of Boston University as an assistant under longtime Terriers head coach Jack Parker in 1997-98. The one-time forward helped BU to four straight Frozen Four appearances and was teammates with Predators assistant GM Jeff Kealty.
Nashville captain Roman Josi said it's sad to see men like Laviolette and McCarthy go after what they've done to help the franchise reach new heights in the past couple seasons.
"Now it's a wake-up call for us players," Josi said.
Poile also announced that longtime NHL defenceman Rob Scuderi will be an interim assistant coach, transitioning from his role in the Predators hockey operations department.
With files from The Associated Press