Nashville Predators: Assistant Coaching Changes Could Make Huge Difference

Nashville Predators head coach John Hynes Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators head coach John Hynes Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

With the arrival of a new head coach comes inevitable changes to the coaching staff. Head Coach John Hynes is finally putting his stamp on the Nashville Predators.

When you consider all of the strange things that have happened with the Nashville Predators since John Hynes’ arrival last season, you have a hard time grasping how his presence and coaching style will impact this team in the future.

While the influence of Hynes on the team has been good overall, there’s only a small sample size of what he can do from a coaching perspective. If the caliber of his new assistant coaches is any indication of the changes happening in Nashville, the Predators will look, unlike anything we have seen for quite some time.

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Resetting the coaching staff

When the Predators fired Peter Laviolette last January, assistant coach Kevin McCarthy was relieved of duty as well. This left at least one coaching spot that would need to be filled by Hynes.

With Hynes’ arrival, Rob Scuderi stepped into an assistant coaching position alongside Dan Lambert and Dan Muse.

After the Predators were eliminated in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to Arizona in August, Scuderi returned to his former Defense Development Coach role.

The Predators also decided not to extend Muse’s contract, leaving yet another coaching position to fill.

Moving Scuderi and not renewing Muse’s contract left Dan Lambert as the sole assistant coach on Hynes’ staff.

With the impending return of a more gritty play style, Hynes and Poile decided to add some assistant coaches who know a thing or two about playing a tough and physical game.

Dan Hinote gets hired

In mid-September, Poile announced that he had hired Dan Hinote as an assistant coach. Hinote spent nine seasons in the NHL as a player and won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.

Hinote’s first assistant coaching job was with the Columbus Blue Jackets. During his time in Columbus, he worked as an assistant coach under then-head coach Todd Richards. Hinote also spent time as an assistant coach for USA Hockey’s National Development Team.

The Predators hired Hinote due to his leadership skills, experience on the ice, and ability to identify with and motivate the players having played himself.

Known as a strong penalty killer during his playing days, Hinote will also work with the players to improve the penalty kill, which caused them many issues last season.

This overall looks like an awesome hire to join Hynes in his first full season behind the bench for the Predators. Former players who were successful in this league can turn out to be excellent assistant coaches, and eventually head coaches.

Todd Richards joins the staff

In a press release on October 23, Poile announced that the Predators had hired assistant coach Todd Richards. Hiring Richards filled the last coaching spot on Hynes’ bench.

Richards won the Stanley Cup last season as an assistant coach for a very tough Tampa Bay Lightning team. He brings 12 years of coaching experience, which includes the previous four with the Lightning.

Richards also knows what it takes to help bring about Hynes’ vision for the team, having spent five seasons as the head coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

During his time with the Blue Jackets, Richards was also Ryan Johansen’s first NHL coach.

If Richards had anything to do with Tampa Bay’s hard-hitting style of play and Johansen’s 33-goal season while a Blue Jacket, he will be a breath of fresh air for a team that has been stagnate in recent years.

The hiring of Hinote and Richards is precisely what this struggling Predators team needed. Both bring a wealth of knowledge about the game and know what it takes to win a Stanley Cup.

Hinote will be able to motivate the players by sharing his experiences and helping them become more formidable as a team, grow closer, and be more focused both on and off the ice.

Richards knows what it takes for a team to become a more defensive-minded squad and coach a team of this nature. His time and experience with the Lightning, a physical team that is very hard to play against, is invaluable to the Predators.

As a fan, the changes taking place within the organization are exciting to see. The Predators have attempted to play a finesse game with moderate success. That should all change once they take the ice next season.

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It looks like Hynes is going to have a commendable staff around him to help him stick around in Nashville for an extended amount of time as he’s just the third head coach in franchise history.

Hinote and Richards will be integral pieces in bringing about the needed changes in Nashville to help the team stay relevant in whichever division they end up in for this unusual season that coming up.