Enter John Hynes, just the team’s third head coach, which is pretty remarkable considering the franchise’s first game was in 1998.
So, the Predators clearly don’t take firing coaches lightly, which is probably a good trait to have. But they have a difficult decision to make regarding Hynes.
The organisation moved on from Laviolette because, as mentioned, he couldn’t turn the team from contender into Stanley Cup champions. They reached new heights under him, but after being crowned Western Conference champions in 2017, they did nothing but regress. The playoff exits got earlier, and after winning the Presidents’ Trophy in 2017-18, the regular season results became worse and worse.
The Predators were never a basement dwelling team under Laviolette, but obviously there needs to be progression. Management and fan bases never stay satisfied with just satisfactory results. Moving on from the former Stanley Cup-winning coach was the only way to go. However, you never want to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire, and so far under the direction of Hynes, that’s exactly what it seems the Predators have done.
Concerning First Impressions
Since being hired back in early 2020, Hynes has led the Predators to a 22-20-1 record. He was hired midseason after Nashville started the 2019-20 season 19-15-7. They were above .500, but that was not the results anyone expected or demanded. Average isn’t not good enough, but that’s exactly what Hynes has delivered thus far. In fact, when you focus on this season solely, average would be a compliment. The Predators are arguably a team with a handful of potential All-Star players, but they sit in division’s seventh spot with a 6-9-0 record — and by the way there’s only eight teams in the division.
The quality of play we are seeing from the Predators — a team whose roster consists of players such as Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, and Roman Josi to name a few — is shocking, but Hynes leading a team to subpar results is far more predictable.
Hynes came to the Predators with just one NHL head coaching job on his resume. The Rhode Island-native was fired from the New Jersey Devils after five seasons. He left the Garden State with a 150-159-45 record to his name. He had won just one playoff game in five years.
The Predators were supposedly looking for a coach who was going to get them over the hump. Yet, they hired someone who had seen all of five NHL playoff games, in which he obviously lost four.
One complaint that many had about the Predators while Trotz was in charge was the lack of offence. He was a very defensive-minded coach, and he still is. The Predators’ identity was playing low-scoring games. Their blue line was their cornerstone and you can still see those roots in today’s team. Laviolette is a more offensive, up-tempo, in-your-face type of coach and he was the guy to shake the team up, helping them break from the style that had become, dare we say it… boring.