The Devils finally have their new head coach and are any of us surprised that new GM Ray Shero went with a familiar face? There were a lot of rumors and a lot of speculation as to the man that Shero would bring in but John Hynes makes sense.
So if you don’t follow the AHL, you might be asking yourself, who is this guy?
Back in 2009, with the Pittsburgh Penguins struggling to make the playoffs, they brought up Dan Bylsma from their AHL affiliate (Wilkes Barre/Scranton) to help guide the Penguins into the playoffs, which we all know how that ended. Todd Reirden was named interim coach after Bylsma’s call up and eventually would take over as head coach. John Hynes was then brought in to be an assistant coach to Reirden. On July 31, 2010, the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins announced that Hynes would be the team’s new head coach, after Reirden was promoted to an assistant for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Under Hynes, the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins qualified for the playoffs in all five seasons, reaching the conference finals twice.
So why does the choice to make Hynes the Devils head coach make sense?
He’s a young coach and you would have to believe that he will relate well to the young players on the roster. Sure, you wonder if a guy like Elias will take direction from a man only a year older but Hynes is a good in-game coach and should be a breath of fresh air. (Besides, Elias is a team guy, he’ll get it.) He also has 5 years of experience in the AHL which means he comfortable with young players, which the Devils look to have a lot of next season.
He’s a defensive coach but not completely one-sided. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton gave up the fewest number of goals in the AHL this past season, but they also scored goals. The club’s goals-differential was plus 49. The Devils were a -33 last season for those keeping track. I’m one that believes in allowing head coaches to pick their staff but I do also hope the decision to keep Scott Stevens on the bench will be made, whether it’s made by Shero or Hynes.
No matter how you look at it, Hynes has a big challenge ahead of him but on the AHL level, he is a winner. In the 5 season behind the Penguins bench, he’s 231-126-27 with 5 straight playoff appearances which includes 2 trips to the conference finals.
We knew change was coming when Lamoriello stepped down as GM a few weeks ago. The hiring of Hynes to the organization and the words “fast, attacking and supportive” has me a little excited about what’s ahead for the New Jersey Devils.