Pittsburgh’s AHL coach to interview for Pens gig

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One of the first candidates for the vacant Pittsburgh Penguins head coaching job has been announced.

AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach John Hynes will be interviewed next week, GM Jim Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Hynes, 39, has spent the last five season at WBS and is the first official interviewee to be confirmed since Dan Bylsma was fired last week.

More, from the Trib:

Rutherford said then he had a short list of candidates to replace Bylsma, the Penguins’ leader in regular-season and playoff victories, and that official interviews will begin not before June 16. The Penguins will have a new coach by July 1, when free agency begins, Rutherford said.

As a coach, Hynes is reputable as a defensive-minded teacher that is unafraid to challenge players. Penguins’ prospects to play under Hynes have described him as tough, but also honest and fair.

He also is known for his in-series adjustments, including spearheading playoff victories when Wilkes-Barre/Scranton trailed 2-0 and 3-0.

Hynes has worked closely with Jason Botterill, Tom Fitzgerald and Bill Guerin during his time with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Botterill, Fitzgerald and Guerin were each retained and promoted by Rutherford.

Needless to say, Hynes is an interesting candidate. He’s coached at a number of different levels over the last decade — NCAA (Wisconsin), the US National Team Development Program, USA Hockey at both the U-18 and World Junior level and, of course, in the American League.

He’s also a product of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coaching tree.

The AHL club has enjoyed tremendous success sending bench bosses through to the NHL over the last 10-15 years. Todd Richards had the job before moving onto Minnesota and then Columbus; his successor was Byslma, who had the job for two years before jumping to the Penguins.

Bylsma’s successor, Todd Reirden, spent one year in WBS before moving to an assistant coaching gig with the Penguins, a job he still (tentatively) holds.

Other WBS coaches currently in the NHL include Wild bench boss Mike Yeo (who spent six seasons as an assistant) and Montreal’s Michel Therrien, who won the AHL’s Eastern Conference championship in 2004.