Preda­tors hire for­mer Devils coach John Hynes as new coach

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS -

NASHVILLE, TENN. (AP) >> The Nashville Preda­tors have hired for­mer New Jersey Devils coach John Hynes as the third coach in fran­chise his­tory af­ter fir­ing Peter Lavi­o­lette.

The Preda­tors an­nounced the hir­ing Tues­day be­fore a morn­ing skate. Nashville hosts Bos­ton on Tues­day night.

“John Hynes is a bright young coach and great leader who has a track record of both ef­fec­tively de­vel­op­ing young play­ers and suc­cess­fully mo­ti­vat­ing veter­ans,” Nashville gen­eral man­ager David Poile said 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.”

Poile fired Lavi­o­lette and as­sis­tant coach Kevin McCarthy on Mon­day af­ter the Preda­tors (19-15-7) had dropped four of five. They are 11th in the Western Con­fer­ence stand­ings with 45 points.

“This is a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity to join an or­ga­ni­za­tion with a his­tory of suc­cess, a team with im­mense ta­lent and a phe­nom­e­nal fan base,” Hynes said. “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.”

Hynes, 44, was 150-149-5 as head coach with the New Jersey Devils, who fired him Dec. 3 de­spite sign­ing him to a mul­ti­year ex­ten­sion last Jan­uary. He was let go af­ter a 9-13-4 start that left New Jersey in last place in the Metropoli­tan Divi­sion and with the NHL’s sec­ond­worst record.

New Jersey hired Hynes be­fore the 2014-15 sea­son, and he led the Devils to six more points than in their pre­vi­ous sea­son. He guided the Devils to the 2018 play­offs for the first time since 2012 in a sea­son when Tay­lor Hall won the Hart Tro­phy for scor­ing a ca­reerbest 93 points in 76 games. He also helped de­velop Nico His­chier, the No. 1 over­all pick in 2017.

Hynes was head coach in the AHL of WilkesBarr­e/Scran­ton for five sea­sons af­ter be­ing an as­sis­tant coach. He also spent nine sea­sons on the staff of the USA Hockey Na­tional Team Devel­op­ment pro­gram, in­clud­ing as head coach from 2003-09 work­ing with play­ers like Patrick Kane, Jimmy Howard, Phil Kes­sel, Jimmy Hayes and Ja­son Zucker.

The na­tive of War­wick, Rhode Is­land, was coach when the Amer­i­cans won the 2004 World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onship, their first medal there since 1997.

Lavi­o­lette went 248-14360 in 5 ½ sea­sons with Nashville, reach­ing the play­offs each of his first five sea­sons. The Preda­tors lost to Pitts­burgh in six games in the 2017 Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal. They won the Pres­i­dents’ Tro­phy and made it to the sec­ond round of the play­offs in 2018. They were elim­i­nated in the first round a year ago.

Poile traded away de­fense­man P.K. Sub­ban, Nashville’s high­est-paid player, and signed free-agent for­ward Matt Duch­ene to a $56 mil­lion, 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.

MARY ALTAFFER - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

FILE - In this Mon­day, Oct. 14, 2019, file photo, New Jersey Devils head coach John Hynes talks to re­porters af­ter an NHL hockey game against the Florida Pan­thers in Ne­wark, N.J.

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