John Hynes will be the next head coach of the Predators, replacing Peter Laviolette, who was fired on Monday.
The 44-year-old Hynes spent the last four-and-a-half seasons behind the Devils’ bench, leading them to the playoffs once. He compiled 150-159-45 record and was fired on Dec. 3 following a 9-13-4 start. He’s now only the third head coach in Predators franchise history.
“John Hynes is bright young coach and great leader who has a track record of both effectively developing young players and successfully motivating veterans,” said Predators GM Davie Poile in a statement. “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.”
“This is a tremendous opportunity to join an organization with a history of success, a team with immense talent and a phenomenal fanbase,” said Hynes. “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.”
There are a number of connections between Hynes and the Predators, one being Devils GM Ray Shero, who worked as an assistant GM under Poile. Hynes also played with Nashville assistant GM Jeff Kealty at Boston University and worked within USA Hockey with Poile.
Hynes takes over a Predators team that has lost four of their last five, including the Winter Classic collapse. Nashville sits five points out of a Western Conference wild card spot as they host the Bruins Tuesday night.
This is a prime chance for Hynes to lead a turnaround of a team that is performing well despite the results. The Predators have posted positive possession and expected goals numbers (52% Fenwick, 52% xGF, per Natural Stat Trick) and are averaging 3.44 goals per game. What’s been dogging them is poor special teams — 16.8% power play, 74% penalty kill — and goaltending (.916 even strength save percentage). Better goaltending from Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros would be the start of a big turnaround that Poile believes can come from his team.
Every struggling NHL team that fires a head coach midseason is hoping to mimic the Blues from a year ago. Poile bolstered his roster over the summer in hopes of making another run at the Stanley Cup after falling short in 2017. There are 41 games left in their regular season, which means plenty of time to climb out of their hole and fix what’s been ailing them this season.
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.