NASHVILLE — 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 second-worst 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 career-best 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 Wilkes-Barre/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 248-143-60 in 5 1/2 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 defenceman 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.
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The Associated Press