John Hynes

PHT Morning Skate: Delicate line for NHL coaches; Sabres headed for collapse?


Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at

• The Devils discuss why John Hynes was fired, and the tone is pretty close to the opposite of how people discussed coaches like Mike Babcock once he was out the door. Taylor Hall talks up Hynes’ role in Hall winning a Hart Trophy, saying “I have a pretty cool trophy at home that I think he had a part in.” (The Trentonian)

• Kings coach Todd McLellan has been around, including working with Mike Babcock in Detroit. He has some interesting insight on how “delicate” it can be to motivate players without crossing the line, and compares it to how discipline has changed at elementary schools. “Ears aren’t pulled. You don’t go to the principal’s office to see or get the strap.” (Los Angeles Times)

• John Tortorella didn’t comment, but plenty of players from his various stops discuss his methods, with the overriding message being that he doesn’t cross the line. (The Athletic [$])

• A hand injury will likely keep Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon out at least a couple weeks. (Star-Tribune)

• In taking a deep dive regarding the Sabres’ underlying numbers, Travis Yost wonders if another collapse is looming. (Buffalo News)

• Manon Rhéaume, the first woman to play in the NHL, will be honored with a statue outside Quebec City’s Videotron Centre. [CBC]

• An in-depth breakdown of the Blues’ “Enter the Zone,” predictive gaming platform, which “offered a glimpse of the future of wagering on professional hockey.” (ESPN)

• Sonny Sachdeva wonders if Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl could actually maintain their paces at around 140 points, and compares their starts to some of the hottest stretches from the likes of Jaromir Jagr and Sidney Crosby. (Sportsnet)

• How defensemen are evolving to impact games more at 5-on-5 than on the power play. (Rotoworld)

• People might snicker at Alex Burrows making the Ring of Honour, or sneer at his agitating days, but Daniel Wagner explains that you won’t understand Burrows if you aren’t a fan of the Canucks. (Vancouver Courier/Pass it to Bulis)

• When will the Blackhawks break out of their current trend of mediocrity? (Second City Hockey)

• The second tier of pending free agents who might get big raises, from Jake Muzzin to Evgenii Dadonov. (Sporting News)

• There are some interesting photo choices in the latest edition of the Upper Deck hockey card series. [Puck Junk]

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Our Line Starts podcast: Berard’s wild stories; Will Pastrnak score 50 in 50?

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Paul Burmeister, Jeremy Roenick and Anson Carter discuss hot starts from the Blues and Bruins. Will David Pastrnak hit the elusive 50 in 50 mark? The guys also give their initial reactions to the Devils firing coach John Hynes. Plus, Bryan Berard calls in to talk about his new book “Relentless” that includes stories about losing sight in one eye, as well as helping the FBI take down the investor who stole millions from him.

0-1:45 Intros
1:45-8:20 Blues, Bruins, and Pastrnak on fire
8:20-11:05 Arizona Coyotes a pleasant surprise
11:10-17:30 Hynes fired; Taylor Hall‘s future in doubt?
17:30-21:10 JR still has faith in the Predators
21:10-End Bryan Berard on his new book & playing for Mike Milbury

Our Line Starts is part of NBC Sports’ growing roster of podcasts spanning the NFL, Premier League, NASCAR, and much more. The new weekly podcast, which will publish Wednesdays, will highlight the top stories of the league, including behind-the-scenes content and interviews conducted by NBC Sports’ NHL commentators.

Where you can listen:




NBC Sports on YouTube:

Devils fall short in first game after Hynes firing

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Sometimes, a team gets a burst of energy — and, ideally, a bump up the standings — after a coach has been fired. If the New Jersey Devils are going to soak up more W’s after firing John Hynes, that gratification will be delayed.

The Devils managed leads of 1-0 and 2-1 during their first game with Alain Nasreddine as interim head coach, but they couldn’t hold onto a win. Jonathan Marchessault managed a natural hat trick during the third period, and that burst served as enough of a cushion for the Vegas Golden Knights to beat the Devils 4-3 on Tuesday.

You have to think Mackenzie Blackwood would like at least one of those goals back, as early on, goaltending is dooming the Devils once again:

It’s not all bad.

For one thing, if you were engineering a game to get the good PR bump of winning after firing a coach, you’d probably not want to target the Golden Knights as an opponent. They’ve had their issues, yet can be a behemoth with the puck, and this marks Vegas’ fourth win in a row.

And you can at least point to a pretty solid overall game for the Devils. This Natural Stat Trick Corsi chart shows a decent broader night of effort from New Jersey, even if the result was all-too-familiar:

Ultimately, the Devils fell short of even getting a “charity point,” and some wonder if the 2019-20 season is more or less lost already. The same might be said of Taylor Hall, considering his uncertain contract status, and the shaky situation the Devils find themselves in.

But, hey, you can only do so much in one game, and you could argue that the Devils at least made some baby steps.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Devils fire coach John Hynes; Alain Nasreddine named interim coach


After getting completely embarrassed by the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night, and less than three hours before they take the ice for a game against the Vegas Golden Knights, the New Jersey Devils have made a coaching change.

The team announced on Tuesday evening that coach John Hynes has been fired and will be replaced by Alain Nasreddine on an interim basis.

Peter Horachek, who had been working as a pro scout in the Devils’ organization, will also be joining the staff as an assistant coach.

Expectations were extremely high for the Devils this season following a huge offseason that saw them get the No. 1 overall pick (for the second time in three years) that gave them Jack Hughes, as well as blockbuster trades to acquire P.K. Subban and Nikita Gusev.

Along with that they also signed Wayne Simmonds in free agency and were getting a healthy Taylor Hall back after he missed almost all of the 2018-19 season.

Despite all of that the Devils have been off to a miserable start that has them at 9-13-4 and near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. They lost their past two games against the Sabres and New York Rangers by a combined score of 11-1.

That was apparently enough.

“John played an integral role in the development of this team in establishing a foundation for our future and we are grateful for his commitment, passion and unmatched work ethic,” general manager Ray Shero said in a statement released by the team.

“John is a respected leader, developer of talent and friend which makes this decision difficult. We are a team that values and takes pride in accountability to the results we produce. We are collectively disappointed in our performance on the ice and believe changes were needed, starting with our head coach. I have been consistent in my desire to build something here in New Jersey that earns the respect of teams throughout the league and pride in our fans. That is not where we were heading and for me to tolerate anything less was not acceptable.”

Hynes was the Devils’ head coach since the start of the 2015-16 season. The team compiled a 150-159-45 record during his time, making the playoffs one time. They lost in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2017-18 season.

Nasreddine spent parts of five seasons in the NHL as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders. He has been a long-time assistant of Hynes at both the AHL (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) and NHL levels (New Jersey).

“Nas has a long history as a respected leader both as a player and a coach in the respective roles he has served for his teams,” said Shero. “His experience as a captain and alternate captain on the ice, in addition to his responsibilities behind the bench, will serve him well as he leads this team through necessary changes to alter our current trajectory.”

The craziest fact out of all of this is this will be the eighth different coach Hall has had in his 10-year NHL career.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Things look dire for Hynes, Devils after 7-1 loss to Sabres

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(UPDATE: The Devils announced on Tuesday that they have fired Hynes.)

After an offseason full of optimism thanks to some aggressive additions, particularly the lucky lottery win of Jack Hughes, it felt like the New Jersey Devils would at least make a ton of progress in 2019-20.

Pretty much from the 0-4-2 start, the tension was really rising, and it’s felt like something had to give — maybe even beyond the Devils having to bite the bullet and trade Taylor Hall considering his expiring contract.

Sadly, Devils fans have had quite a few low moments to choose from lately (including losing to the hated Rangers 4-0 on Saturday), but Monday’s loss to the Buffalo Sabres might very well represent rock bottom. At least, the Devils must hope so, as the Sabres handed them a painful 7-1 loss. You know it isn’t a great sign when your opponent has three goals before you even register a shot on goal.

The Sabres would end up with five goals in the first period alone. It would be convenient if the Devils could blame a single, solitary issue for all of their problems, but stretches like these often boil down to broader dysfunction.

Maybe the biggest debate is: what feels like the perfect encapsulation of that loss, and the general feeling surrounding these dismal Devils?

Was it this agonizing goal allowed when the game was already getting out of hand?

Or, should we be more precise and point to Conor Sheary‘s “yikes” reaction to that goal?

Either way, things are rough.

The Devils slipped to 9-13-4, with their 22 standings points only placing them ahead of a Detroit Red Wings team that is dreadful, essentially, by design. Plenty of Devils fans have been calling for head coach John Hynes to be fired well before this stretch where the Sabres and Rangers combined to beat New Jersey 11-1 over two lousy losses, but you can bet that the rumblings are more thunderous this week:

*Makes the same face Sheary did at that tweet*

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.