Devils fire coach Hynes after dismal start to season
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — John Hynes paid the price for the New Jersey Devils failing to deliver on the high expectations created by having three No. 1 overall draft picks in the lineup.
Hynes was fired as coach Tuesday after a 9-13-4 start that left the team in last place in the Metropolitan Division and with the NHL’s second-worst record.
General manager Ray Shero announced the move roughly 20 minutes before Hynes was scheduled to speak to the media before the Devils’ game against the Vegas Golden Knights. Hynes had been coach for four-plus seasons.
Shero said assistant Alain Nasreddine would become the interim coach and Peter Horachek, a pro scout for the team, would join the coaching staff as an assistant.
The dismissal comes a day after the Devils were ripped by the Buffalo Sabres 7-1, a game Shero said was hard to describe. That followed a 4-0 loss at home to the rival New York Rangers on Saturday.
Shero said he made his decision to fire Hynes after the Buffalo game, adding the team’s inconsistency and inability to hold leads all season contributed to his disappointment that began with an 0-4-2 record after six games.
“I don’t think there is any one player performing even at the level, let alone above, that we would expect or they would expect,” Shero said. “That’s the thing that is disappointing. Obviously change brings opportunity not only for Alain Nasreddine but also for our players. It’s opportunity for them and to find out where we are and where we are going to go.”
Shero said Nasreddine would be given a chance to turn things around, adding there is a lot of time left in the season.
Nasreddine said he was in shock when Shero informed him of the change, calling it a bittersweet moment since Hynes had been his mentor for the last decade.
“I think everyone in that room is disappointed,” Nasreddine said of the team. “Everyone in that rooms feels responsible. Everyone in that room can be better.”
The Devils had high hopes entering the season after drafting Jack Hughes with the No. 1 overall pick just two years after taking Nico Hischier with the No. 1 pick. The other first overall pick on the roster is Taylor Hall, who won the league MVP award in 2018 after leading New Jersey to the playoffs.
The Devils are the third team to change coaches this season. Toronto fired Mike Babcock two weeks ago and Calgary parted way with Bill Peters last week.
Hynes, who was hired by the Devils in June 2015, had a 150-159-45 record in 354 career regular-season games. When the New Jersey made the postseason in ’18, it was the first time since going to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012.
Hynes ranks second in team history in games coached, wins and points (345).
“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,” Shero said in a statement. “John is a respected leader, developer of talent and friend which makes this decision difficult. We are a team who values and takes pride in accountability to the results we produce.
Nasreddine played for six different NHL organizations during his 15-year pro career with Chicago, Edmonton, Florida, Montreal, the Islanders and Pittsburgh.
“I have earned everything in life and I expect the players to do the same thing with their job and how they play,” said Nasreddine, who said he spoke briefly with Hynes after the move.
Horachek was a longtime assistant coach for the Nashville Predators, as well as interim head coach of the Florida Panthers and the Maple Leafs. He has been a pro scout with the club since 2015.